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MESA and IIIT: Islamists Infiltrating Academia

MESA's leaders never met an Islamist they didn't embrace, so it's in keeping with their fallen reputations that their annual conference next month in DC will feature a reception for the International Institute of Islamic Thought, a Muslim Brotherhood-linked organization. In a Campus Watch article posted today at American Thinker, I examine just how far IIIT's tentacles reach into America's universities:

The field of Middle East studies has a troublesome penchant for partnering with Islamist organizations. Case in point: The 2014 annual conference of the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA) will host an International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) reception at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC on November 23.

The true nature of IIIT, a Virginia-based think tank, was revealed during the 2007 U.S. v. Holy Land Foundation terrorism-financing trial, which unearthed a 1991 Muslim Brotherhood memorandum naming IIIT as one of the likeminded organizations in the U.S dedicated to a "grand jihad" aimed at "eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within" so that "God's religion [Islam] is made victorious over all other religions." . . . As far back as 1988, an FBI investigation exposed IIIT's goal to "get inside . . . American universities" for the larger purpose of instituting "the Islamic Revolution in the United States." Clearly, IIIT is making headway.

To read the entire article, please click here.

By Cinnamon Stillwell  |  October 30, 2014 at 12:36 pm  |  Permalink

Juan Cole's 'New Arab' Fantasies

Juan Cole

Hope springs eternal for Middle East studies professors who prefer to issue apologias for the Middle East and Islam than engage in clear-eyed, rigorous research. This is proved again in a new Campus Watch report by Andrew Harrod, "Juan Cole's 'New Arab' Fantasies," which appears today at FrontPage Magazine:

The "advent of a new generation" of Arabs was the overly optimistic theme for University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole's recent lecture at the George Washington University Elliot School of International Relations. Cole's discussion of his new book, The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation is Changing the Middle East, to an audience of about fifty, mostly Elliot School students, failed to substantiate his ongoing hopes for the so-called Arab Spring.

Elliot School professor Edward W. (Skip) Gnehm introduced Cole as a Middle East expert who is popular on television, a supposedly confidence inspiring credential. Cole focused on Tunisia, noting that this comparatively small North African country with no oil resources had received "insufficient press." His main concern was "youth revolutionaries," as the Arab press termed Arab Spring regime opponents in Libya, Tunisia, and elsewhere.

To read the rest of this article, please click here.

By Winfield Myers  |  October 28, 2014 at 10:44 am  |  Permalink

Stacked MESA Panel to Praise Steven Salaita

Steven Salaita is set to receive more praise (and pity) from his academic peers next month when a panel at the annual Middle East Studies Association (MESA) conference in Washington, DC, examines his travails at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, which in August rescinded an offer to appoint him professor of Native American studies.

The panel is to discuss "issues of freedom of speech, academic freedom, university governance, civil discourse, and the potential repercussions for faculty in Middle East studies." Given its composition, its biases in favor of Salaita are beyond doubt: every member specializing in the Middle East shares Salaita's history of anti-Israel activism, including support for the Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions (BDS) movement and objections to off-campus criticism of academe. The records of non-specialists also give every indication that they, too, will support Salaita.

A small sampling of the radicalism of panel members demonstrates this bias:

  • Laurie Brand (chair), former MESA president and director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Southern California, was signatory to a hysterical December 2002 letter warning that a U.S. invasion of Iraq would encourage Israel to engage in "ethnic cleansing" against Palestinians:

"Americans cannot remain silent while crimes as abhorrent as ethnic cleansing are being openly advocated. We urge our government to communicate clearly to the government of Israel that the expulsion of people according to race, religion or nationality would constitute crimes against humanity and will not be tolerated."

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By Winfield Myers  |  October 24, 2014 at 10:24 pm  |  Permalink

Hamza Yusuf Still An Apologist for Sharia

Hamza Yusuf, recently portrayed as a moderate, is in fact an apologist for Sharia and its "brutal hudud punishments" and the return of the Caliphate. That he has partnered with Hatem Bazian of UC Berkeley (and, like Yusuf, of Zaytuna College) further clarifies his true beliefs, as Bazian is the poster child for anti-American, anti-Israel, radical Islamist academics. See CW's collection of articles on him here.


By Winfield Myers  |  October 24, 2014 at 2:22 pm  |  Permalink

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

[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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By Winfield Myers  |  October 20, 2014 at 3:42 pm  |  Permalink

MESA Letter on Gaza Aid Ignores Hamas, Blames Israel

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."

By Cinnamon Stillwell  |  October 16, 2014 at 2:58 pm  |  Permalink

Anti-Semite Prof. Ali Mazrui Dies

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]."

By Winfield Myers  |  October 13, 2014 at 5:09 pm  |  Permalink

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

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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By Winfield Myers  |  October 10, 2014 at 10:51 am  |  Permalink

Muslim Scholars Condemn ISIS, Or Do They?

Over 120 Muslim leaders and scholars, including UC Berkeley's Hatem Bazian, Hamza Yusuf of Zaytuna College, and Brandeis University's Joseph E.B. Lumbard, have signed an open letter to the Islamic State (ISIS) disputing the theological basis for ISIS's heinous actions. Yet Ayman S. Ibrahim, a PhD candidate in Islamic studies at Fuller Theological Seminary, points out at First Things that "the statement is ambiguous in crucial areas, which not only weaken its argument, but also question whether it is truly a rigorous and valid refutation of ISIS's deeds and claims."

By Cinnamon Stillwell  |  October 7, 2014 at 12:56 pm  |  Permalink

Rep. Nita Lowey on Misuse of Higher Education Act Title VI Funding

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) was spurred to ask Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to prevent biased Middle East studies programs from misusing Title VI funds by the Joint Statement of ten organizations, including the Middle East Forum, issued September 17, 2014.

By Winfield Myers  |  October 3, 2014 at 1:18 pm  |  Permalink

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