Campus Watch in the Media
Middle East studies programs get tax-payer dollars, now they may get congressional scrutiny
by Susan L. Rosenbluth
To this day,
Like many members of Middle-East studies programs throughout the
Dr. Khalidi has declared
Just Like Said
Although he is director of
In this, he is very similar to the recently deceased Dr. Said, a
"Said can be credited with the current techniques being used on American campuses today to propagandize for terrorism under an innocent pretense. Said postured in his writings that, in history, ‘facts do not matter, only emotions matter.' In other words, write your own history to achieve your desired ends, at the same time, fool everyone else by appealing to their emotions," said Lee Kaplan in an article published on FrontPageMagazine.com.
Dr. Said's influential "postcolonial theory" held that it is immoral for scholars to put their knowledge of foreign languages and cultures at the service of American power.
Many Jewish and pro-Israel observers blame Ms. Robinson for allowing the
Ms. Robinson, acting in the capacity of the UN high commissioner for human rights, rejected many American demands to remove anti-Israel language from final conference documents.
Ms. Robinson, 59, was
Several Jewish and pro-Israel groups see her appointment as another example of anti-Israel bias on the
Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, said
"It's especially astonishing that a school with such a large Jewish population would insult Jewish people by hiring these haters of the Jewish state of
James Tisch, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, agreed that under her Ms. Robinson's leadership "the Human Rights Commission was one-sided and extremist."
"In her tenure at the HRC, she lacked fairness in her approach to the Israeli/Palestinian issue," he said, hoping that "for the sake of her students and the reputation of
Ms. Robins has also been blasted by Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), the only Holocaust survivor on the Hill. He said she did not do enough to prevent anti-Israel rhetoric from taking over the
"Mary Robinson's lack of leadership was a major contributing factor to the debacle in
According to Rabbi Charles Sheer of the Columbia-Barnard Hillel, the principal anti-Israel voices on the
Rabbi Sheer did not deny that there are many fine courses at
But, he said, some faculty members, whose teaching style is called "'advocacy education,' espouse a consistent anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian bias."
"Their personal politics pervade the classroom and academic forums," said Rabbi Sheer.
He also noted that although many
Up until a year ago, universities could allow anti-Israel "advocacy education" professors to operate without fear of scrutiny. But now there is CampusWatch.org, a Website founded by Middle East Forum director Dr. Daniel Pipes and Dr. Martin Kramer, a professor of Arab history at Tel Aviv University and the author of "Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America."
Like Dr. Pipes' Middle East Forum think tank, CampusWatch is dedicated to "promoting American interests in the
Anyone with information on how classes in
Students, parents, and faculty who have watched with frustration as Middle East studies programs were co-opted by what they see as left-wing, anti-American elements, have cheered the new Web site. But supporters of the status quo in
The monitoring that
Last month, Dr. Kramer reported on an Al-Jazeera program, "From Washington," which held a discussion on
According to Dr. Kramer, Dr. Khalidi "said little that was original or surprising—until the end, when he blew a gasket and uttered the sort of thing he would only dare to say in Arabic."
When the program's subject turned to American think-tanks, Dr. Khalidi was critical of these organizations, saying they "don't want true dialogue with people whose views differ from their own, but who want to force their opinions on American citizens and the world."
His example was the very centrist Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which he labeled ‘the fiercest of the enemies of the Arabs and the Muslims."
Directed by former Ambassador Dennis Ross, who was the chief
Even Dr. Khalidi has shared podiums with members of The Washington Institute.
But that did not concern Mr. Khalidi on Al-Jazeera. Perhaps playing devil's advocate, the program's moderator, Hafiz al-Mirazi, pointed out that the Washington Institute had hosted many Arab leaders, including PA Information Minister Nabil Amr and Egyptian presidential adviser Osama al-Baz. Mr. al-Mirazi noted that, just recently, Washington Institute associate David Makovsky wrote a joint op-ed with Dr. Hala Mustafa, a journalist with the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram, on promoting democracy in the Arab world.
At this point, according to Dr. Kramer, "Khalidi boiled over."
"By Allah, I say that the participation of the sons or daughters of the Arabs in the plans and affairs of this institute is a huge error, this Israeli institute in Washington, an institute founded by AIPAC, the Zionist lobby, and that hosts dozens of Israelis every year," said Dr. Khalidi. "The presence of an Arab or two each year can't disguise the nature of this institute as the most important center of Zionist interests in
"I very much regret the participation of Arab officials and non-officials and academics in the activities of this institute, because in fact if you look at the output of this institute, it's directed against the Palestinians, against the Arabs, and against the Muslims in general. Its products describe the Palestinians as terrorists, and in fact its basic function is to spread lies and falsehoods about the Arab world, of course under an academic, scholarly veneer. Basically, this is the most important Zionist propaganda tool in the
Only in Arabic
According to Dr. Kramer, Dr. Khalidi would never have made this outburst in English, and Dr. Kramer offered a reason: "It would damage his reputation as a bridge-building moderate."
"But Khalidi in Arabic, on Al-Jazeera, is someone else altogether. There he is the bridge-burner, the zealot who would warn other Arabs away from the Washington Institute because it is ‘Israeli' and a ‘Zionist propaganda tool.' Behold, Arab-style McCarthyism," said Dr. Kramer.
Dr. Kramer then turned to Dr. Khalidi's record at
Dr. Kramer acknowledged that Dr. Khalidi hosted two Israelis—both "academic post-Zionists."
"He and they would have nodded in agreement over
This type of funding is an issue that has been tackled by Drs. Kramer and Pipes in op-eds and on their Web site. They and other conservatives have been pushing for stronger Congressional oversight of the $95 million in government subsidies for
Legislation under consideration by Congress—it is now in the Senate after receiving unanimous approval in the House—includes a provision for the establishment of an advisory board to ensure that government-funded academic programs "reflect diverse perspectives and a full range of views."
According to reports on CampusWatch, that is hardly the case now.
"Americans need to know what terms such as ‘jihad' mean and why we are being attacked," he said. "This is at the very heart of our foreign and domestic policy."
Left-wing supporters of the status quo in
Barbara Petzen, outreach coordinator at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at
Michael C. Hudson, director of the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at
Dr. Pipes, who has also called for stringent background checks on Muslim visitors to the
"We are a tiny think tank, with few resources," he said, describing CampusWatch as a kind of consumer guide to
The idea for the advisory board came last June when Stanley Kurtz, a research fellow at
Mr. Kurtz maintained that the centers of
Mr. Kurtz then suggested that the centers should correct that imbalance or else risk losing federal money. "Unless steps are taken to balance university faculties with members who support and oppose American foreign policy, the very purpose of free speech and academic freedom will have been defeated," he told the Congressional panel.
The advisory board that the House has approved would be made up of political appointees who would review the academic programs, but not run them. Three members of the board would be named by the secretary of education, and one each by the majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate.
Fear of the Tax-Payer
Some Middle East academics said they fear that if Congress succeeds in passing legislation calling for the seven-member advisory board to oversee how tax-payer dollars are being spent, it will be dominated by spokesmen for the Bush Administration and, therefore, strong advocates for Israel.
Not surprisingly, one of the staunchest critics of the proposed advisory board is Dr. Khalidi.
"It's the thin edge of the wedge," he said, arguing that the demand for "balance" in
Dr. Khalidi has maintained that critics of his brand of
But Dr. Khalidi said he did not know if
"It depends on the language," he said. "If the board has the kind of prosecutorial intent to search out malfeasance that is presumed but does not exist, that would be objectionable. The university might feel this was political infringement on academic freedom."
In general, according to many reports, enrollment in Arabic-language courses and
There are now 17 national resource centers for Middle East Studies at US universities, up from 14 in 2001. Grants for graduate research have increased by 250 percent, according to Miriam Kazanjian, a consultant for the Coalition for International Education.
But if Drs. Pipes and Kramer and their supporters have their way, these centers will have to present balanced views or risk losing their government funding.
Dr. Pipes said his promotion of an advisory board to supervise the distribution of government funds for area studies programs will be important symbolically.
"It will not materially change anything, but it will alert Congress to the problem," he said.
Other observers say they cannot imagine the school's justifying relinquishing those yearly sums.
"Academic colleagues, get used to it," wrote Dr. Kramer recently. "You are being watched. Those obscure articles in campus newspapers are now available on the Internet, and they will be harvested. Your syllabi, which you've posted, will be scrutinized. Your Websites will be visited late at night."
But one man's consumer affairs advocate is another's creator of an "atmosphere of intimidation," which is what Lisa Anderson, dean of international and public affairs at
Asked by the Washington Post about his comments, Dr. Kramer said they were offered "tongue in cheek," but he accused many
"Academics make their living ridiculing government policies and the superficiality of the media, but when anybody examines their performance, they throw up their hands with cries of McCarthyism. There's a real asymmetry here," he said.
Good for the Goose
And criticized they have been.
Columbia professor Hamid Dabashi said his voice mail was filled with "racist and obscene" messages, including one denouncing him as "a stinking terrorist Muslim pig," after an op-ed by Dr. Pipes in the New York Post denounced him and others as "left-wing extremists."
Dr. Khalidi said he was the target of a massive e-mail campaign after Dr. Pipes' column, but he did not say whether his own remarks on Al Jazeera television about the Washington Institute had generated similar results there.Note: Postings in "Campus Watch in the Media" do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch.
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