Middle East studies in the News
Debates Over Academic Freedom Affect Students, Staff, Locals [incl. James Gelvin]
by Allison Ong
[Editor's note: The following is an excerpt. To read the entire article, follow the link above.]
UCLA scholars were also questioned in 2014 when the AMCHA Initiative, a nonprofit that investigates anti-Semitism at American colleges, alleged that UCLA's Center for Near Eastern Studies displayed anti-Israel bias in its event programming.
James Gelvin, the center's interim co-director, said AMCHA's allegations were complete and deliberate fabrications that have not affected the center's activities.
"When (Middle East) governments fail or do something wrong, our job is to critique them," Gelvin said. "We tend not to make governments happy. We also tend not to censor ourselves when it comes to that."
AMCHA co-director Leila Beckwith said the center's events expressed anti-Semitic discourse that was demonizing, meaning it implied Jews are inherently evil.
She said she supports criticism and scholarship on the topic of Israel, but only when speakers discuss both sides of an argument.
Government bodies also pressured academic opinion. After two state senators accused UCLA of withholding certain research records, Chancellor Gene Block issued a statement supporting the protection of faculty from public records requests.
Block referenced a statement from UCLA's Administration-Senate Academic Freedom Task Force, which said that outside groups can use requests to further political goals or intimidate faculty.
"The statement is a compelling affirmation of ... the right of faculty to conduct research and scholarship on controversial topics free from political interference," Block said in his statement. "I wholeheartedly endorse it."
...Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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