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Berkeley, Bazian, and Barghouti Promote BDS

Hatem Bazian

What do a UC Berkeley Near Eastern studies (NES) lecturer, the co-founder of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), and a member of a Berkeley city commission have in common? All three are promoting the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. In the latest Campus Watch research, CW West Coast representative Cinnamon Stillwell reports on a recent lecture by PACBI leader Omar Barghouti, with an introduction from UC Berkeley's Hatem Bazian in which he expressed his support for Cheryl Davila, a member of a Berkeley, California city commission who was dismissed after introducing a BDS resolution. Stillwell's article appears today at Frontpage Magazine:

Bazian provided the introduction to a September 18 lecture co-sponsored by NES and delivered by Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). An audience of approximately two hundred, comprised mostly of students and including local anti-Israel activists, twenty or so women in hijabs, and a tall man with a "Palestine" sash around his neck who, during the Q&A, claimed to work for the virulently anti-Israel online magazine Electronic Intifada, filled a large lecture hall in UC Berkeley's Dwinelle Hall.

Before introducing Barghouti, Bazian rallied the audience to the "cause" of Cheryl Davila, the former Human Welfare & Community Action Commission (HWCAC) member.

To read the entire article, please click here.

By Cinnamon Stillwell  |  September 30, 2015 at 12:26 pm  |  Permalink

The Middle East Studies Blind Spot: Anti-Semitism

Sayyid Qutb

In an MEF-sponsored essay published at the History News Network, historian Jeffrey Herf asks why Middle East studies professors ignore or downplay the anti-Semitism found throughout Arab lands and Iran:

Anti-Semitism, the hatred of the Jews as Jews, has a history in the Arab states and in Iran. It is blatant and obvious in the declarations of the government of Iran and in the public statements of Islamist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah. The link between Islamism and anti-Semitism has been a continuing theme of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt since the canonical writings of Hassan al-Banna, Haj Amin al-Husseini, and Sayyid Qutb from the 1930s to 1950s. The evidence of its presence is extensive in the files of the American and British diplomatic archives. It was a theme in the liberal and left-leaning journalism of the World War II era and in the scholarship of the postwar decades.

Yet the discipline of Middle East Studies today, rather than building on this valuable scholarly legacy, shows too little interest in the topic. Or it finds anti-Semitism's origins in the existence and policies of Zionism and the state of Israel while neglecting the presence of such antagonism in the years before Israel's founding.

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

By Winfield Myers  |  September 28, 2015 at 9:31 am  |  Permalink

The Politicization of Middle East Studies

MESA passed a resolution earlier this year praising calls for anti-Israel boycotts.

The latest Campus Watch Research is by Middle East historian Efraim Karsh along with Middle East scholar Asaf Romirowsky. The two critique the Middle East Studies Association's (MESA) increasingly anti-Israel stances on both scholarship and activism. The piece appeared September 18 in The American Interest:

The influential Middle East Studies Association objects to the State Department's definition of anti-Semitism, thereby giving up any pretense of professionalism it still had.

It has been a while since the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), the largest and most influential professional body for the study of the region, whose 2,700-plus members inhabit departments of Middle East studies throughout the world, dropped its original designation as a "non-political learned society" to become a hotbed of anti-Israel invective. So deep has the rot settled that the association seems totally oblivious (or rather indifferent) to the fact that its recent endorsement of the anti-Israel de-legitimization campaign, and attendant efforts to obstruct the containment of resurgent anti-Semitism on U.S. campuses, have effectively crossed the thin line between "normal" Israel-bashing and classical Jew baiting.

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

By Winfield Myers  |  September 21, 2015 at 1:32 pm  |  Permalink

Will Yale's $10 Million Saudi Grant Whitewash Islamic Law?

Saudi businessman Abdallah S. Kamel has donated $10 million to Yale University Law School to establish a center for the "Study of Islamic Law and Civilization." In doing so, Yale joins Harvard, Georgetown, UC Berkeley, and other American universities in accepting Saudi largesse that, experience tells us, often results in Middle East studies centers and academics producing apologias for Islamism. In this case, the focus is on Sharia (Islamic) law, which, as noted by the Independent Journal Review, is "antithetical to the classical and modern liberal traditions of Western Civilization." The fact that Yale Law School Dean Robert C. Post described Sharia, a pre-modern, barbaric legal code that proponents are seeking to expand into the West, as having "a long and proud tradition, which encompasses great intellectual achievements" does not bode well.

By Cinnamon Stillwell  |  September 15, 2015 at 4:23 pm  |  Permalink

UC-Irvine's Mark LeVine: Boycott Pro-Israel Singer Matisyahu

Matisyahu (l); Mark LeVine (r)

As noted at the Fousesquawk blog, University of California, Irvine history professor and anti-Israel agitator Mark LeVine, in his latest Al-Jazeera op-ed, defends a Spanish music festival's initial (and later reversed) decision to exclude Jewish reggae artist Matisyahu due to pressure from BDS País Valencìa, the Spanish chapter of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement.

Critics of the decision, including the Spanish government, the World Jewish Congress, and the Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain blamed anti-Semitism. Yet Levine claims the issue wasn't Matisyahu's religion, but his pro-Israel beliefs and the fact that he "has performed for the IDF and for AIPAC." LeVine, a BDS proponent, summed up the movement's stance: "Matisyahu has no place appearing at a peace festival."

It is condemnable that any scholar would favor BDS, which not only singles out for opprobrium Israel, the Middle East's only democracy and by far its freest society, but violates the free flow of information on which scholarship is based. One would also hope that LeVine, a musician and author of the book Heavy Metal Islam, would more highly value the "artistic freedom" to which he pays lip service. Instead, he demonstrates his willingness to politicize both his profession and his avocation as his fealty to the BDS movement (like that of an increasing number of Middle East studies academics) wins the day.

Cinnamon Stillwell is the West Coast Representative for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum. She can be reached at

By Cinnamon Stillwell  |  September 10, 2015 at 12:35 pm  |  Permalink

Brandeis to Award Endowed Chair to Anti-Israel Scholar

Pascal Menoret

Pascal Menoret, who has a history of anti-Israel activism, will be officially named the Renee and Lester Crown Chair in Modern Middle East Studies in a September 8 ceremony marking the tenth anniversary of the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University, the nation's only non-sectarian Jewish-sponsored college.

While teaching at NYU's Abu Dhabi campus, Menoret was among the faculty signatories to an "NYU Out of Occupied Palestine" petition urging the university to "divest from all companies in its portfolio that contribute to or profit from the Israeli occupation," which the petition defines as including "the West Bank and East Jerusalem." It goes on to decry Israel's alleged "denial of the most basic human and civil rights to the 4.5 million Palestinians who live in these occupied Palestinian territories." His Facebook page cover photo extends this theme, as it shows a portion of Israel's security fence at the Aida refugee camp in Beit Jala in the West Bank on which is painted Palestinian agitators hurling stones at Israelis, thereby romanticizing violent "resistance."

In 2014 Menoret, who specializes in Saudi cultural history, signed a petition defending the NYU chapter of the virulently anti-Israel Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) from "disciplinary action" for the mock eviction notices it slipped under dormitory doors—many of them belonging to Jewish students—allegedly to mimic the notices given to Palestinians prior to home demolition.

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By Winfield Myers  |  September 6, 2015 at 9:00 am  |  Permalink

Politicizing Arabic Instruction in San Francisco Schools

Lara Kiswani

The San Francisco Unified School District is embroiled in a controversy that demonstrates the pervasiveness of politicization in Arabic instruction. According to, the school board has approved a resolution for "K-12 Arabic and Vietnamese language and culture classes beginning in the 2017-18 school year." In order to create "culturally appropriate professional development opportunities for school faculty," the district plans to work with the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), a fiercely anti-Israel, pro-BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) local organization whose website blames global "repression" on "U.S. imperialism and Zionism."

Lara Kiswani, AROC's executive director and cofounder of the UC Davis chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, is notorious for having declared at a 2014 UC Berkeley BDS panel discussion, "Bringing down Israel will really benefit everyone in the world" and, to a Jewish graduate student's concerns about anti-Semitism, responding, "As long as you continue to be on that side [of Zionism] I'm going to continue to hate you."

Opposition from Jewish community leaders and others has prompted the school board to issue an apology and to reconsider "whether to retain or drop AROC." As president Emily Murase put it, "Clearly we want to make sure it [the Arabic language and teaching program] does not contain political agendas." The board's decision will determine whether or not teaching Arabic entails indoctrinating children with the political biases of that troubled region.

By Cinnamon Stillwell  |  September 2, 2015 at 5:43 pm  |  Permalink

Middle East Studies Profs Team with Iran Lobby to Push Deal

The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) has produced a letter promoting the Obama administration's nuclear deal with Iran (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) signed by "73 prominent International Relations and Middle East scholars." Among the latter are Richard Bulliet, John Esposito, Fawaz Gerges, Rashid Khalidi, Hamid Dabashi, William O. Beeman, Juan Cole, and Reza Aslan.

A recent Campus Watch article on Middle East studies academics toeing Teheran's line in support of this deal includes the last four and clearly, they have company. The fact that NIAC is an Iran lobby group whose advisory board includes both Aslan and Cole demonstrates the willingness of these academics to further state-sponsored propaganda. It's also proof of the Iranian regime's ability—as with other Islamist lobbies—to infiltrate American university life. NIAC received funds from the Alavi Foundation (which funneled $345,000 to Harvard's Center for Middle East Studies) until Alavi was closed for being a front-group for Tehran's mullahs.

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By Cinnamon Stillwell  |  August 28, 2015 at 2:57 pm  |  Permalink

IPT on Lincoln Prof Kaukab Siddique's 'Incitement to Violence'

The Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) analyzes Lincoln University professor Kaukab Siddique's long history of bigoted, pro-terrorist commentary, accusing him of "incitement to violence." IPT interviews Siddique's frequent target, Pamela Geller, along with Pennsylvania Senator Anthony Hardy Williams, who has called on the university to take action against the tenured professor based on possible violations of its professional conduct code.

By Cinnamon Stillwell  |  August 26, 2015 at 3:14 pm  |  Permalink

BDS Profs vs. the Muslim Leadership Institute

Abdullah Antepli

Who would object to a program that sends American Muslims to Israel to meet with Jewish, Muslim, and Christian residents in order "to explore how Jews understand Judaism, Israel, and Jewish peoplehood"? Answer: Middle East studies professors intent on scuttling coexistence in favor of delegitimizing Israel through the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement. Today at FrontPage Magazine, Campus Watch West Coast representative Cinnamon Stillwell explains why the Muslim Leadership Institute and its co-director, Duke University's Abdullah Antepli, were declared traitors to the "cause":

Participants in the Muslim Leadership Institute (MLI), a program of the Shalom Hartman Institute (SHI) founded and directed by Duke University chaplain Imam Abdullah Antepli and author Yossi Klein Halevi, partake in two twelve-day seminars at the SHI campus in Jerusalem. The program includes visits to religious and historic sites, northern Israeli Arab communities, and the West Bank.

Since its inception in 2013, MLI has met with fierce resistance from the BDS movement, including Middle East studies professors who coauthored at least two petitions this year aimed at shutting it down.

To read the entire article, please click here.

By Cinnamon Stillwell  |  August 21, 2015 at 2:43 am  |  Permalink

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