Middle East studies in the News
Pro-Hamas Prof Protests Suspension From Army War College [on Sherifa D. Zuhur, incl. Middle East Studies Association]
In January I reported  here at Pajamas Media on U.S. Army War College (USAWC) professor Sherifa Zuhur's paean to the terrorist group Hamas, " Hamas and Israel: Conflicting Strategies of Group-Based Politics," published by USAWC's Strategic Studies Institute (SSI). In her monograph she claims that Hamas had "evolved" beyond their 1988 covenant calling for the destruction of Israel and the eventual murder of all Jews by Muslims, and that that Hamas has been misunderstood due to the misreporting by "Israeli and Western sources that villainize the group."
I followed up that article last month with a  report about the ongoing controversy between Zuhur and USAWC over their refusal to renew her contract. Last June she enlisted the support of Middle East Studies Association (MESA) president Mervat Hatem, who sent a  letter to USAWC Commandant LTG Robert Williams repeating claims by Zuhur that she had been harassed and her academic freedoms had been infringed by USAWC.
I observed that Zuhur's grievance-mongering with USAWC was merely a repeat performance of her claims of censorship and discrimination when her contract with the American University of Cairo (AUC) was not renewed in 2000. In that case, she had filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming discrimination by AUC on the basis of gender and national origin. The EEOC found that her complaint had no basis and closed the case. She then took her case public by encouraging a letter-writing campaign directed at AUC leadership by fellow academics and ideological supporters. She then began a hunger strike in protest of the decision by the AUC Faculty Senate denying her appeal. Her efforts to win a contract renewal from AUC were unsuccessful and she wandered through several low-level academic positions before being hired by USAWC.
Last Wednesday the Chronicle of Higher Education  reported Sherifa Zuhur had been suspended by USAWC beginning this week. According to the Chronicle, her suspension is the result of several incidents of professional misconduct, including threatening the school with forwarding her complaints, along with the MESA president's letter and another letter sent to USAWC by the Council of America-Islamic Relations' Pennsylvania chapter on her behalf, to the Arab Times.
Zuhur has also made a series of complaints against USAWC claiming sexual harassment, failing to accommodate her religious practices, and that SSI department chairman Steven Metz physically threatened her during a confrontation in her office, prompting her to faint. Unfortunately for her, a witness present during the incident involving Metz contradicted her account. A  comment left on my last Pajamas Media article purportedly from Sherifa Zuhur included accusations that Metz and SSI staff had been responsible for my article (for the record, I have not had any direct communication with Metz or SSI officials).
In a letter outlining several incidents of professional misconduct by Zuhur, SSI Director Douglas Lovelace said, "I have never before dealt with such blatant examples of disrespect and contempt for one's supervisors and support staff. Nor have I encountered the level of obstreperousness you display in my 40 years as a supervisor." He indicated that if she continued her public misinformation campaign against SSI and USAWC he would move to have her fired.
The appearance of CAIR into Zuhur's grievance theater is hardly surprising given their consistent advocacy on behalf of Islamic terrorists and their supporters. In CAIR's letter to USAWC, they demanded that the school implement its diversity and sensitivity training for all its employees and award financial compensation for Zuhur commensurate with the three to five year contract USAWC declined to offer her.
CAIR was named by federal prosecutors as an unindicted co-conspirator in the recent Holy Land Foundation terrorism finance trial, which concluded with  guilty verdicts on all 108 counts against the defendants, including CAIR-Texas founder and board member Ghassan Elashi. During the trial, FBI Agent Lara Burns  identified CAIR as a front for the terrorist group. As a result of the evidence presented at the trial documenting their long association with Hamas, the FBI has  severed all ties with CAIR.
Apart from USAWC findings of professional misconduct, Sherifa Zuhur's claims of censorship are all the more bizarre considering that SSI published her apologia for Hamas in December, which included an approving forward by SSI Director Lovelace — the same individual who informed her of her suspension.
However, the findings of professional misconduct at her grievance-mongering at USAWC virtually mirror her actions following the previous non-renewal of her contract at AUC in 2000. In both cases, her academics were insufficient for her to win contract renewal, which prompted her wild claims of religious, ethnic, and sexual discrimination that were eventually proven false. As with her public campaign directed at AUC leadership in 2000, her failure to secure reappointment at USAWC has prompted her to enlist the support of CAIR.
Zuhur must also be concerned about the potential future employment fallout concerning her close association with recently appointed National Intelligence Council chairman Chas Freeman, who is  facing an investigation by the Office of Director of National Intelligence Inspector General's office following reports of his ties and financial support by the Saudi and Chinese governments. Last April, Zuhur  appeared on a panel sponsored by Freeman's Saudi-supported Middle East Policy Council defending Hamas. Thus far there has been no discussion about the propriety of a USAWC professor speaking for a known front organization of the Saudi Kingdom.
In conclusion, USAWC's predicament with Sherifa Zuhur is really a direct result of their strategic blindness. Not only has Zuhur engaged in this kind of professional misconduct before when her academic performance failed to meet AUC's muster, but her grievance-mongering behavior should hardly be a surprise considering that her specialty is not Islamic studies and Middle East affairs, but gender and identity studies. That she has appealed to CAIR can hardly be unexpected considering her longtime open support for Hamas.
Hopefully, USAWC will refuse to knuckle under to Sherifa Zuhur and CAIR's grievance-mongering. In light of her present suspension, it seems as if they can't get Sherifa Zuhur out of the door quickly enough. Hopefully, they will learn from this incident by demonstrating greater prudence in selecting her successor.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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