Are Some Middle East Studies Profs Antisemitic?
by Winfield Myers • Oct 23, 2007
A group of professors, mostly from the humanities and with a large contingent from Middle East studies, have formed the Ad Hoc Committee to Defend the University. They claim that "outside groups" are "seeking to influence what is taught and who can teach."
It's the subject of this story in today's issue of Inside Higher Ed.
But the professors aren't concerned with generic complaints; their real target is more specific. Although Campus Watch isn't mentioned, the Committee clearly alludes to it:
Aside from there being nothing ironic about that claim, there is also nothing true about it. CW does not target anyone for disagreeing with Israeli policies or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We critique professors of Middle East studies for myriad problems in their writing and teaching, whether Israel is involved or not.
Still, it's notable that their first two complaints deal directly with Israel:
Among the signatories (there were 144 as of this writing, about 5:30 EDT) are several professors of Middle East studies. Among them are: Gabriel Piterberg of UCLA; Magid Shihade of UC-Davis; Lisa Hajjar of UC-Santa Barbara; Gil Anidjar of Columbia; Laurie Brand of USC; Joel Beinin, listed as at Stanford, although (for now at least) at the American Univ. in Cairo; Lawrence Davidson of West Chester Univ.; Elliott Colla of Brown; Ahmad Dallal of Georgetown; Mark LeVine of UC-Irvine; Zareena A. Grewal of Yale; Suad Joseph of UC-Davis; Lila Abu-Lughod of Columbia; and others.
Since so many professors of Middle East studies are signatories, let's see if the charges made by critics of contemporary academe are in fact "unfounded," and if the term "anti-Semitism" is in fact tossed around so loosely. Here are just a few examples; judge for yourselves:
Juan Cole of Michigan, writing at his blog on Sunday, Oct. 21:
Joseph Massad of Columbia, writing in Al-Ahram Weekly this past March:
Same man, same paper, December, 2004:
Saree Makdisi of UCLA, writing on his blog in April:
Omid Safi of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, speaking to the Associated Press in June, regarding the recent Pew Research Center Poll showing that 26 percent of American Muslim between the ages of 18 and 29 say that suicide bombing is justified in at least some circumstances.
Rashid Khalidi of Columbia, speaking of the Hamas takeover of Gaza in June, on National Public Radio:
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