June 19, 2004

Massad, Joseph
[CLME W3042] Palestinian and Israeli Politics and Societies and [C1101] Contemporary Civilization

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Without fear or favor (have graduated) and without any political axes to grind, I say without hesitation that Professor Massad was the best teacher I've had at Columbia or anywhere else. I was lucky enough to have him for two classes (three semesters): both CC and his Palestinian and Israeli Politics and Societies. Perhaps more than anything, I admire and have been inspired intellectually by his unfailing, unflinching honesty about his own opinions and assumptions, and his equally unfailing and unflinching willingness to examine these opinions and assumptions with a critical eye. His lectures were uniformly fascinating, especially because it was obvious that he had complete control over the material -- he can field any question, and at a length that suggests that he's thought about it before.
But what made the lectures even more fascinating was his enormous interest in them -- both personal interest and intellectual interest (some digressions -- the result, it seemed, of his enthusiasm -- were often the most fascinating part of the lecture!)
I know I will carry what I've learned from Professor Massad with me for the rest of my life -- both the content and the method. -- And add to all this: he's simply one of nicest people I know.