الخميس، 8 يونيو 2017

Campus Watch a New McCarthyism!!

Second World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies
Amman- Jordan
June 11-16, 2006

Campus Watch a New McCarthyism!!


Mazin S. Motabagani
Associate Professor Orientalistics
Department of Islamic Studies, Faculty of Education
King Saud University
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia


In the year 1988, I wrote to Professor Bernard Lewis asking for an appointment as part of my ongoing research on his methodology in his study of Islamic History. He wrote to me differentiating between the “free world” where he lived and the “un-free world” where I live. He described the “free world” “where you have no restrictions on your research or findings”. This came to mind when I started preparing a paper on the contemporary American Orientalism and their influence on the neo-conservatives in the Bush Administration, and particularly when I came across the internet site called www.campus-watch.com.

In this site, I found them to be a group of American scholars who are know to be pro-Israel, anti-Palestinian and felt that they are fed  up with the Middle East studies discipline. They think that pro-Arab and pro- Palestinian has overtaken this field. They also felt that the USA government is spending money on people who are doing disservice to the country and its foreign policy.  Here I said to myself is this really the “free world” Lewis mentioned in his letter, or is it a new world?

The site picked few examples that they thought fit this criteria. One example is the appointment of Professor Waleed Al-Khaldi to the Edward Said Chair, and also the appointment of Joseph Masad to a post at Columbia University. Another example is Professor Roger Owen of Harvard University who faced a harsh critique in this site, which made him respond in an article he published in Al-Hayat daily Newspaper directing his fight back against campus watch people and their attitude.

They went on to device what was to be called a blacklist or professors who should be ousted from American Universities. The leaders of this campaign were Daniel Pipes and Martin Kramer. However, many scholars in this field some who were sited and attacked while others felt the danger of such trend challenged this campaign.

It was so many months after I submitted a proposal, I came across an article by Professor Joel Benin using the term McCarthyism. However, Benin meant the whole attack on academic freedom in the USA while I used it just for the site campus-watch.com.

I may not have been the first to use the term ‘McCarthyism’ to describe the new trend to attack academic freedom, but to label the work of campus-watch site as such maybe the first time. McCarthyism has had many victims in the USA. According to the wikipedia.org these victims were in all occupations; actors, play write, physicist, athletes and so on.  This term has been in the current use to mean “mass pressure, harassment or blacklisting used to pressure people to follow popular political belief.” It adds that this all is done “under the pretext of maintaining national security”. ([1])  

This paper will consist of two sections:
First: Analysis of Site performance
Secondly: Reaction to the site, where I will look into the responses it invoked among scholars in the field of Middle Eastern Studies.

Section I
Analysis of performance
The pro-Israel Middle East Forum has recently launched www.campus-watch.org, a controversial new website that monitors campus debate on the Arab-Israeli conflict.  Specifically, the website cites professors’ writings and speeches concerning Israel, be it positive or negative, details activities on college campuses that relate to the Middle East conflict, lists anti-Israel professors, and encourages students to report occurrences of anti-Israel bias to the website.  Through these avenues the website’s creators hope to restore equity to academic debate on the issues of the Israeli-Arab conflict.
Campus-Watch aims to amend professors’ analytical errors, underline instances of politics mixing into scholarship, criticize intolerance of alternative views, and highlight the abuse of power in shaping students’ expressions of political feeling. It posts articles from various professors that demonstrate a clear bias against Israel as well as articles that criticize these professors. 
The website also chronicles anti-Israel events and instances of violence. Readers can thus learn about the riot at Concordia University on September 9 that prevented a speech by former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu; the pro-Palestinian divestment conference at the University of Michigan on October 11-12; and the vandalizing of a memorial to Israeli terror victims at Yale University on October 22. The website tries to maintain objectivity by reporting all news in the form of articles from college or local newspapers. 
The website organizes its material both chronologically and by college campus. Currently the site features reviews of 23 universities, ranging from well-known institutions like Harvard, Stanford and University of California- Berkeley to small colleges like Arizona State and University of Hawaii. The extensive news section is frequently updated to keep pace with the large number of articles and events that the website’s organizers consider to be flawed in their political outlook.
The creators of Campus-Watch operate under the assumption that the percentage of professors with anti-Israel views is disproportionate to the percentage of people with such views in the general populace.  Interestingly, the website points out that the United States government has identified positively with Israel since its founding, yet the academic community in this country has never viewed the Jewish state in a positive light.  The academics that started Campus Watch hope to counteract some of the negative impact that it perceives in the widespread anti-Israel “intellectual” agenda.
Many academics, both non-Jewish and Jewish, have opposed the mission of Campus-Watch.  The website requests students to report their teachers’ statements that they feel are biased against Israel. This section has been controversial and has generated a lot of criticism.  This method of gathering information limits free speech.   In his October 20, 2002 article for palestinechronicle.com, “Israeli Sympathizers’ Arrogance Knows No Bounds,” Raff Ellis writes concerning Campus-Watch: “The main objective of these fascist style tactics is to totally suppress dissent, to cultivate the approval of the masses and to strike fear into the hearts of those whose conscience drives them to speak out against the daily injustices heaped upon the Palestinians.”  Even some professors who agree with the website’s perspective on Israel have criticized the page that requests people to report the statements of their professors.  They claim that the concept eerily resembles the McCarthy era witch-hunts.  Some have gone so far as to claim that the website intended to draw such a parallel when it stated that it wished to develop dossiers on every professor that unfairly criticizes Israel. The Campus-Watch administration disputes the significance of the word “dossier.”  It even says that it is considering changing that word simply because it is impeding serious discussion of the issues at hand, as some people cannot see past the incidental word choice.
The first controversy of this site was its involvement of publishing files on eight professors whom the site claims to be anti- Israel. This list has critically been called “the blacklist.”  Upon learning of the list, many professors who were opposed to the views of Campus-Watch, or at least to their “blacklist,” asked to be listed along with the eight original professors.  Campus-Watch responded: “The fact that these individuals insist on declaring solidarity in public with academics that Campus-Watch has identified as apologists for Palestinian and Islamist violence is important information for university stakeholders to be aware of, so we are posting their names, in compliance with their wishes.”
The long-range effect of this website and its attitude towards normative academia is yet to be seen, but its stirring contribution to the current debate on college campuses is indisputable.([2])
by Comentator
Volume 67, Issue 4
November 10, 2002
Kislev 5763

Since the site campus-watch is the creation of the Middle East Forum. it is only logical to give a brief introduction of this forum. In 1990 the forum was founded as a think tank to “promote American Interests in the Middle East, defining interests to include fighting radical Islam ( rather than terrorism), working for Palestinian acceptance of Israel …..etc) The forum claims that one of its missions is to improve Middle East studies in North America.  The Forum is directed by Daniel Pipes. This forum decided to create a web site to carry some of the mission of the forum. The site itself describes its mission as to “gather information on Middle East studies from public and private sources and makes this information available on its website, www.Campus-Watch.org.” They also add the following: “produce analyses of institutions, individual scholars, topics, events, and trends. Makes its views known through the media - newspaper opeds, radio interviews, television interviews.  The owners of the site will use different sources for their material such as students reports and complaints. ([3])
Activities of the Site

The site was very active in the field of collecting articles and reports on the Middle East Studies in the USA. However, the site posted

Section II
Reaction to the Site
The neo-McCarthyism was faced with strong opposition since it touched a large scale of scholars and professors in the American universities. One of the prominent figures who wrote about this trend is Professor Joel Benin –who used the term McCarthyism- in an article titled “The new American McCarthyism: policing

In an effort to counter what they label as a McCarthyesque hunt by a pro-Israel think tank, about 100 professors from across the country have asked to be added to a "Campus Watch" Web site that singled out eight professors because of their views on Palestine and Islam.
The Web site lists "dossiers" for the eight university professors and teachers, including a graduate student instructor from UC Berkeley, and portrays them as preaching dangerous rhetoric to students. The site also calls them "hostile" to America. (Professors Want Own Names Put on Mideast Blacklist
They hope to make it powerless by Tanya Schevitz) Saturday, September 28, 2002 in the San Francisco Chronicle
The professors listed on the site have been spammed with tens of thousands of racist, obscene and threatening e-mails.
have received more moral support and endorsement of my career as a teacher and a scholar over the last couple of weeks than ever before," he said.
". . . I have a stake in being party to voices of civilized dissent against this horrific environment of fear, violence and intimidation that the likes of Daniel Pipes want to perpetuate so that only their views are heard."
Critics however have claimed that it's real purpose is to attempt to intimidate academics who have criticised the policies of Israel and the United States in the Middle East. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campus_Watch
controversy over Campus Watch, involving among other things, charges and counter-charges of McCarthyism, is documented on the web site itself. Many opponents of Campus Watch see it as an attempt to stifle any criticism of Israel in American academia. [2][3] [4][5]
Rashid Khalidi, a Directory of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University and a target of Campus Watch: "This noxious campaign is intended to silence such perfectly legitimate criticism, by tarring it with the brush of anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism, truly loathsome charges. They reveal the lengths that these people apparently feel impelled to go to in order to silence a true debate on campus." [6]
Joel Beinin, a Professor of Middle East History at Stanford University, said this of Campus Watch:
"After failing in his own pursuit of an academic career, [Daniel] Pipes has evidently decided to take revenge on the scholarly community that rejected him. [....] These efforts to stifle public debate about U.S. Middle East policy and criticism of Israel are being promoted by a network of neo-conservative true believers with strong links to the Israeli far right. They are enthusiastic supporters of the Bush administration's hands off approach to Ariel Sharon's suppression of the Palestinian uprising and aggressive proponents of a preemptive U.S. strike against Iraq." [7]
Political scientists John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt wrote in March 2006 that Campus Watch was founded by "passionately pro-Israel neoconservatives" with the intention of "encourag[ing] students to report comments or behavior that might be considered hostile to Israel" and that it was a "transparent attempt to blacklist and intimidate scholars."[8]
^ Daniel Pipes, Is Campus Watch Part of a Conspiracy?, Middle East Forum, May 12, 2006
^ The War on Academic Freedom by Kristine McNeil, The Nation, November 11, 2002
^ Zionism vs. Intellectual Freedoms on American College Campuses, David Green, ZMag
^ Short Cuts, Sarah Roy, London Review of Books, April 1 2004
^ The New Commissars Anders Strindberg, The American Conservative, February 2 2004
^ ADC Denounces New Efforts to Chill Academic Freedom, Press Release, Arab Americans Anti-Discrimination Committee, September 26 2002
^ Who's Watching the Watchers?, Joel Beinin, History News Network, September 30 2002
^ The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, March 2006
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campus_Watch"

[1] -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCarthyism
[2] - Avi Narrow-Tilonsky "The Professors Exposed: A Review of Campus Watch"

[3] - www.campus-watch.org (about us)

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