Middle East studies in the News
David Project Goes into Fiction
by George Saliba
Again through the courtesy of Mr. Jacob Gershman, of The New York Sun, I received a link to yet another transcript of the David Project film, which is now apparently published on a Web site of its own. I also understand that this soap opera has already gone through six incarnations so far, with maybe more to come.
After reading the "new" transcript, which I assume is the latest, my first reaction was to dismiss the new charges leveled against me as pranks of a student, or a group of students, engaged in creative writing, and not to dignify those pranks with a response. But then I remembered that in this day and age, similar creative writings did indeed change the image of a bona fide war hero into that of a coward, and the images of draft dodgers into war heroes. And since I was the object of the slander, I felt I was in a privileged position to answer those charges, if for no other reason than to set the record straight, and allow us, as a Columbia community, to move back into the realm of reality, and to our classrooms, where the serious business of teaching is supposed to take place.
The twists in the new transcript do not even rise to the level of garbled misquotations of arguments recollected from poor memory going back at least four years, as was the case with the first transcript I saw last November. They have now lost touch with reality altogether, with "unidentified" characters creating fictitious encounters, and leveling unadulterated fanciful charges, not to say lies, out of respect to the persons involved.
The fabricated dialogues would have been funny if an environment of "Inquisition" had not already been unleashed in the midst of our community by the behavior of President Bollinger, and had my colleagues across the University and I not been put, as a result, in the position of guilty until proven innocent. These accusations, innuendos, incriminations by association, and sheer intimidation of faculty and students alike, have now gone way beyond the domain of MEALAC and have reached into departments where no teaching of Middle Eastern Studies is known to take place. Even the members of the ad hoc committee, appointed by President Bollinger to investigate MEALAC, none of them from MEALAC, have already been personally vilified in the same vicious press.
This all takes place while President Bollinger does not rise to defend the autonomy of this great institution and the reputations of the people working in it. Instead, he apparently continues to give a listening ear to the very same people who channeled their political campaign through the voices of a handful of persons on our campus, some of whom may not even be students in the first place, and who were certainly not students of MEALAC.
Yet there is a silver lining to the cloud. Out of the approximately 2,500 students that I must have taught over the last five years, many of them Israeli citizens, the David Project had to resort to fiction in order to incriminate me and my colleagues. They could not find even one disgruntled student in order to level a real charge. That in itself speaks volumes of the integrity of those thousands of students of whom I feel very proud, and whose rights I feel are being trampled upon in the process. I salute each and every one of them for not accepting to be enticed into what must have become a lucrative business of movie making.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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