The Jewish Question at MD
There was a time, not so very long ago, that the Division
Heads of Surgery, Pediatrics and Prevention were all Jewish. The Provost was
Jewish. There were many Jewish department chairs—Behavioral Sciences,
Epidemiology, Sarcoma Medical Oncology, Head and Neck Medical Oncology, Investigational
Therapeutics, Cancer Biology, Biochemistry and of course, ye olde (very olde)
VP for Research Administration. The VP for Clinical Research was also Jewish. Now, not
The question is not whether or not this is all true. It is.
The question is why?
At MD Anderson today, where people tend to vanish overnight
for no apparent reason or for reasons made up in the higher reaches of Pickens,
there is no shortage of paranoia. I am not even sure it is paranoia if they
really are shooting at you. So is there a concerted effort to purge the ranks
of the faculty of Jewish professors?
The answer is complicated.
First, the current provost and the acting head of Pediatrics
are both Jewish, so there has not been a complete ablation of all Jewish
leadership at Anderson despite it being significantly depleted. Though–it might be hard to assemble a minyan in Pickens if someone died. Of course, given the number of Jews left, there are few potential Kaddish recipients around anyway. It is hard to
make the case, therefore, that the Jewish presence in the MD Anderson
leadership is a complete void, but the numbers are surely down.
Second, after some many years of a wonderfully heterogeneous
faculty population from all over America and the world, why would one group be
singled out for attrition?
But, a counter argument is the significant lack of women
leadership and black leadership as well. There has never been a black Division
Head and, as far as we know, I am the only man to sleep with a permanent Division
Head thus far, but that is presumptuous of me.
The real key may lie in the new building on campus:
The Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation gave MD Anderson
$150M in 2011 to fund a number of projects, the largest of which is the Sheikh
Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Building for Personalized Cancer Care.
This Zayed family from the UAE is the same one that funded
the The Zayed Foundation for Coordination and Follow Up in 1999. This think
tank turned out to be anti-Semitic, anti-American and anti-Israeli and was
forced to close in 2003.
This is also the same Arab family who donated $2.5M to the
Harvard Divinity School but was forced to take it back by a student there,
Rachel Fish, a true American heroine. The think tank shut down in response, but
who knows if the sentiment voiced and funded by the Zayed’s vanished? Doubtful,
Now, MD Anderson has taken $150M (that’s a lot more than
$2.5M) from the same family and the Jews are starting to vanish from the upper
reaches of MD Anderson.
Frank Bruni’s superb
column (‘Platinum Pay in Ivory Towers’-NY Times, May 20, 2015) about executive
pay in academia featuring the new President of UT Austin as a shining example
of sanity. Contrast his reponse to money to that of the executives at MD