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'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"β€”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

Jewish Studies Profs Condemn AMCHA (and Accountability)

Some Jewish studies profs have condemned the AMCHA Initiative's exposure of biased scholarship and teaching in Middle East studies. They assert this curtails their academic freedom and has a "chilling effect." Such tiresome, hackneyed apologias for an intellectually corrupt status quo. Only the professoriate demands exclusion from public criticism.

By Winfield Myers  |  October 1, 2014 at 1:24 pm  |  Permalink

Do Directors of Title VI Middle East Studies Centers Intend to Boycott Israeli Universities?

Four of six directors of federally-funded university Middle East studies centers who signed a letter pledging "not to collaborate on projects and events involving Israeli academic institutions" have yet to clarify whether they spoke for their centers or merely for themselves. They are:

  • miriam cooke, Middle East Studies Center, Duke.
  • John Esposito, Prince Alwaleed bin-Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown.
  • Helga Tawil-Souri, Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies, New York University.
  • Osama Abi-Mershed, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University.

As CW revealed earlier this week, Abi-Mershed's claim that "we are not tax supported" was refuted by his dean, who confirmed that, "the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies has been, and we hope will remain, a recipient of Title VI designation and support."

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By Winfield Myers  |  September 24, 2014 at 5:06 pm  |  Permalink

Contrary to Georgetown Prof's Claims, Dean Says Center Receives Taxpayer Support

Asked recently if Georgetown University's Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS) receives federal Title VI funds, director Osama Abi-Mershed answered, "we are not tax supported."

His dean, James Reardon-Anderson, begs to differ.

Following the revelation that the directors of six federally-funded Middle East studies centers signed a letter pledging "not to collaborate on projects and events involving Israeli academic institutions" in spite of "assurances" each gave to "maintain linkages with overseas institutions of higher education," Foreign Policy Research Institute president Alan Luxenberg emailed each director and asked if their pledges were personal or apply to the centers they lead.

In response to an inquiry, Reardon-Anderson, acting dean of the Walsh School of Foreign Service, of which CCAS is a part, replied without commenting on Abi-Mershed's claim that:

Yes, we are very proud that the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies has been, and we hope will remain, a recipient of Title VI designation and support.

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By Winfield Myers  |  September 22, 2014 at 2:40 pm  |  Permalink

Defending Salaita: Anti-Israel Profs Unite!

In the latest Campus Watch research, posted today at American Thinker, I examine the reaction of the field of Middle East studies to the case of Steven Salaita, who was offered a position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that was rescinded following publicity surrounding his offensive and hateful Twitter posts:

While Steven G. Salaita's inflammatory, anti-Israel, anti-Semitic Twitter posts and atrocious academic record may have cost him a tenured professorship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), theydid nothing to lessen his support from the field of Middle East studies. The former Virginia Tech University English professor – whose published work focuses on the Arab-Israeli conflict – was offered a position in UIUC's American Indian Studies Program that was later rescinded by Chancellor Phyllis Wise. Salaita's academic apologists immediately sprang into action, with antagonism to Israel's recent military action against Hamas only adding to the frenzy.

A number of petitions, open letters, and statements calling to reinstate or show solidarity with Salaita made the rounds, all displaying similar characteristics.

To read the entire article, please click here.

By Cinnamon Stillwell  |  September 21, 2014 at 12:15 pm  |  Permalink

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