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Howler of the Month (archive)

Juan Cole

"It's just a way of beating up on the Muslims in the UK. . . . Cameron is grandstanding about this and it's Islamophobia, it's just racism. . . . It's a kind of political hysteria, it's racism, and it's unworthy. I think David Cameron, who has an Oxford education, should be ashamed of himself."

Juan Cole, Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan, on British Prime Minister David Cameron addressing the security threat posed by British citizens joining ISIS; California State University, Long Beach, October 16, 2014. (link to source)

We Couldn't Have Said it Better (archive)

David Cook

"To say that ISIS doesn't have anything to do with Islam is just the statement of an ignoramus or an apologist. There is support for the things that ISIS does inside the Koran. There's support for things like beheading and different exemplary punishments that you can easily find."

David Cook, associate professor of religion at Rice University, as quoted in "Is ISIS a Faith-based Terrorist Group?" by Christopher Massie; Columbia Journalism Review, September 17, 2014. (link to source)

CAMPUS WATCH, a project of the Middle East Forum, reviews and critiques Middle East studies in North America with an aim to improving them. The project mainly addresses five problems: analytical failures, the mixing of politics with scholarship, intolerance of alternative views, apologetics, and the abuse of power over students. Campus Watch fully respects the freedom of speech of those it debates while insisting on its own freedom to comment on their words and deeds.

The Latest on Campus

Incoming Professor Explores Refugee Camp Dynamics [on Sarah Tobin]
October 22, 2014 - The Brown Daily Herald

Willful Blindness to Academic Anti-Semitism
October 22, 2014 - The Times of Israel

University of Tennessee to Expand Arabic Program [incl. Douja Mamelouk]
October 21, 2014 - The Daily Beacon (student newspaper, U. of Tennessee

SJP's History of Hatred [incl. Hatem Bazian]
October 20, 2014 - The Tower Magazine

On Many Campuses, Hate is Spelled SJP [incl. Hatem Bazian]
October 20, 2014 - The Tower Magazine

Professor Juan Cole Discusses ISIL in Iraq
October 20, 2014 - Union Weekly (student newspaper of California State University, Long Beach)

University's Middle East Library is Home to "Enthusiastic" Librarian
October 19, 2014 - Daily Utah Chronicle (newspaper of the University of Utah)

School of Religion to Begin PhD Program for Next Fall [incl. Sherman Jackson]
October 19, 2014 - The Daily Trojan (student newspaper of the University of Southern California)

Pakistani Rock Band Khumariyaan Gets Connecticut College Dancing — And Thinking [incl. Sufia Uddin]
October 17, 2014 - Connecticut College News

Juan Cole Condemns David Cameron for Alerting UK Public to British ISIS Fighters
October 17, 2014 - Fousesquawk Blog


'The Hoya' at Georgetown U. Confuses Anti-Israel Boycotts (Letter to the Editor)

By Winfield Myers | Mon, 20 Oct 2014, 3:42 PM | Permalink

[Editor's note: the following letter to the editor of The Hoya, the student newspaper of Georgetown University, was not published by the paper and so is reproduced here.]

In "13 Professors Boycott Israeli Universities," September 13, Katherine Richardson writes that "Georgetown has become the most-represented university involved in the American Studies Association's boycott of Israeli academic institutions since the petition's creation last month."

In fact, the ASA's boycott was launched last December. The boycott to which Ms. Richardson refers is unrelated, represents "scholars and librarians working on the Middle East," and was launched in August. There is no linkage between the two groups.

An important issue unaddressed by the article is whether two directors of federal Title VI-funded Georgetown centers who signed the pledge speak for themselves or for the centers they lead. Under Title VI of the Higher Education Act, recipients must give "assurances" to "maintain linkages with overseas institutions of higher education"—an assurance threatened by a pledge to boycott Israeli universities and academics.

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MESA Letter on Gaza Aid Ignores Hamas, Blames Israel

By Cinnamon Stillwell | Thu, 16 Oct 2014, 2:58 PM | Permalink

MESA president Nathan J. Brown

The Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA) has sent a letter to the recent "International Conference for the Reconstruction of Gaza" expressing "grave concern over Israel's indiscriminate bombardment and destruction of Palestinian educational institutions" and recommending that "international donors . . . hold Israel accountable" by insisting that aid be contingent upon ending "the blockade and other policies of military occupation" that allegedly imperil "academic freedom and the right to education" in the Gaza strip.

The letter relies upon the notoriously biased United Nations for its obviously inflated figures. Worse, it makes no mention whatsoever of Hamas's rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, or its kidnapping and murder of Israeli citizens, both of which precipated Israel's military action. Also conveniently omitted is Hamas's calculated use of human shields and UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) facilities.

MESA has a long history of issuing one-sided letters accusing Israel of supposed restrictions on academic freedom, as these from 2013, 2012, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2003, 2002, and 2001 demonstrate.

But rest assured, writes MESA president and George Washington University professor Nathan J. Brown, MESA's role is merely "to promote scholarship and teaching on the Middle East and North Africa."


Anti-Semite Prof. Ali Mazrui Dies

By Winfield Myers | Mon, 13 Oct 2014, 5:09 PM | Permalink

Ali Mazrui, who directed the Institute for Global Cultural Studies at SUNY Binghamton, has died at 81. Although the BBC is calling him a "towering intellectual figure," at a 2010 Columbia U. conference he said that Jews had "a certain kind of impurity" that led them to be "like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," but now they have "landed with Mr. Hyde's evil identity." And that "even U.S. presidents are scared [of them]."


Muqtedar Khan Says Muslim Scholars Must 'Break the Theological Claims of Extremism'; So Must He

By Winfield Myers | Fri, 10 Oct 2014, 10:51 AM | Permalink

Muqtedar Khan

In "Muslim Scholars Must Break the Theological Claims of Extremism," an October 7 entry to the New York Times' Room for Debate blog, University of Delaware political scientist Muqtedar Khan states the obvious: "Muslims have an extremism problem." So, in fact, does Khan.

He writes:

Many Islamic groups condemned both Boko Haram and ISIS as un-Islamic. This is a welcome development. But they did not also condemn the Salafi theology that underpins the literal and shallow understanding of Islamic principles that inform groups such as ISIS.


The work of Islamic scholars such as Ibn Taymiyyah, Syed Qutb and Abdul Wahhab, those who inspire the extremists, must be deconstructed and contextualized.

Intellectually eviscerated and utterly discredited would be better, but at least he sees these authors as problems.

But will he apply these criticisms to himself and rein in his own extremism, as illustrated in the following examples? In 2007, Khan refused to serve on a student-organized panel on "Anti-Americanism in the Middle East" with a veteran of the Israeli Defense Force who had served in the West Bank because, he wrote:

I am also not sure how I feel about being on the same panel with an Israeli soldier who was stationed in West Bank. Some people see IDF as an occupying force in the West Bank. I am not sure that I will be comfortable occupying the same space with him. It is not fair to spring this surprise on me at the last moment.

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