Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Daniel Pipes - 3

Jihad Khazen Al-Hayat - 29/06/06

Of the many hats worn by Daniel Pipes, today I will briefly discuss two: Middle East Forum and Campus Watch.

The Middle East Forum was founded by Pipes - who is its director - in 1990, and became an independent organization in 1994. By 2004 it had 15 employees and a budget of more than 1 million dollars.

The website of the Middle East Forum, describes it as:
“A think tank whose goal is to define and promote American interests in the Middle East, defining interests to include fighting radical Islam (rather than terrorism), working for Palestinian acceptance of Israel, urging the Bush administration to better manage its democracy efforts, reducing funds going to the Middle East for energy purchases, more robustly asserting U.S. interests vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia, and containing the Iranian threat. The Forum also works to improve Middle East studies in North America”.

The Middle East Forum “sees the region, with its profusion of dictatorships, radical ideologies, existential conflicts, border disagreements, political violence, and weapons of mass destruction as a major source of problems for the United States. Accordingly, it urges active measures to protect Americans and their allies.”

The Forum’s list of 20 “experts on Islam, Islamism and the Middle East” includes neoconservatives and several people from the Middle East whose views and activities appeal to the Forum. Among the neoconservatives are Patrick Clawson (of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy), Martin Kramer, William Kristol (editor of The Weekly Standard), Meyrav Wurmser (director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Middle East Policy), Laurent Murawiec (virulently anti-Saudi, from the Hudson Institute), and Robert Satloff.

Other Middle East Forum experts are Ziad K Abdelnour, a founding member and president of the US Committee for a Free Lebanon; Habib C Malik, who teaches history and cultural studies at the Lebanese American University in Beirut, and Arab-American right-wing journalist Joseph Farah.

The experts also include Tashbih Sayyed, the Editor and Publisher of Pakistan Today, who has defended and praised Daniel Pipes in articles. His publication welcomed President George W Bush’s nomination of Pipes to the US Institute of Peace, with an article by Fatima Sayyed claiming that “many moderate American Muslims welcome the appointment”.

The Middle East Forum publishes Middle East Quarterly, edited by Michael Rubin. It claims to be “the only journal on the Middle East consistent with mainstream American opinion” and “America’s most authoritative journal of Middle Eastern affairs”.

The list of the journal’s contents gives a flavour of the thrust of the Middle East Forum. The Spring 2006 issue of Middle East Quarterly continues the Forum’s long-standing campaign against the Council on Islamic American Relations (CAIR) with an article by Daniel Pipes and Sharon Chadha entitled: “CAIR: Islamists fooling the establishment”. It claims CAIR is wrongly an establishment favourite.

Other articles in the issue are on the “Islamist Challenge to the US Constitution” with “US Islamic groups wanting to return to separate but equal”; “Re-energizing a West Bank-Jordan Alliance”; “At what Cost Israel-China ties?”(arguing that Israel’s arms sales to China are a “costly blunder”); and “Replace Turkey as a (US) Strategic Partner?”

The 2006 issue contains a debate on “Has Saudi Arabia Reformed?” and on US-Saudi relations. It includes a document on “Does Saudi Arabia Fund Terrorism?” and complains that “four years after 9-11 the US government takes Riyadh at its word.”

One of Pipes’ most controversial activities has been the setting up of Campus Watch to monitor Middle East studies on campus. Critics of Campus Watch accuse it of setting up witch-hunts in order to try and intimate scholars and to skew Middle Eastern studies towards a more favourable position on Israel and on US policies in the Middle East.

The website of Campus Watch proudly carries at its head a statement by Miriam Cooke of Duke University, taken from an article she wrote expressing much concern over the activities of Campus Watch. Cooke wrote: "Campus Watch is the Trojan horse whose warriors are already changing the rules of the game not only in Middle East Studies but also in the US University as a whole. They threaten to undermine the very foundations of American education."

Campus Watch claims to review and critique Middle East studies in North America with an aim to improving them. It describes itself as addressing five main problems in Middle East studies: “analytical failures, the mixing of politics with scholarship, intolerance of alternative views, apologetics, and the abuse of power over students. Campus Watch fully respects the freedom of speech of those it debates while insisting on its own freedom to comment on their words and deeds.”

Campus Watch has in particular campaigned against Rashid Khalidi, who has the Edward Said chair at Columbia University. Pipes spoke out against Khalidi’s appointment when it was made in August 2003. (Khalidi strongly defended himself at the time against accusations that he was anti-American and a supporter of “terror attacks”, as opposed to legitimate resistance to occupation, in the Middle East).

But a Columbia University investigation into the Middle East Studies faculty stated in its report of March 31 2005 that the university’s Middle Eastern studies professors did not engage in large-scale intimidation of pro-Israeli students. However, Professor Joseph Massad was criticised by a five-member panel for exceeding “commonly accepted bounds of behaviour” in the classroom.

The investigation was ordered by Columbia’s president Lee Bollinger after a group of students made a video, funded by the David Project, a pro-Israeli group based in Boston, alleging that Middle Eastern studies professors had harassed them.

Campus Watch includes a “keep us informed” sectionon its website, asking for reports on Middle East related scholarship, lectures, classes, demonstrations and other relevant information. This is equivalent to an invitation to spy on individual teachers. As some sort of cover, it claims to want positive news as well as negative: “we are very interested in learning about professors and administrators who do credit to Middle East studies”.

Campus Watch has a survey of institutions and of faculty. For example Fawaz Gerges, the professor of Middle Eastern studies at Sarah Lawrence College in New York, who is widely regarded as a highly respected scholar and commentator, is described in an article by Jonathan Calt Harris (managing editor of Campus Watch) in the National Review of July 2003. “Who is Fawaz Gerges? Another problem Middle East scholar who minimizes the threat of militant Islam while presenting the US as a sinister force.”

Campus Watch refers to those academics it has in its sights in the most vulgar, derogatory, crude terms. In its research section, the headline “Georgetown’s Jihad Denier” refers to Professor John Esposito and in the article “Academics Against Israel” the “academics” in question are actually certain Israeli academics whom Alexander H Joffe and Asaf Romirowsky accuse in an article in the Jerusalem Post of October 19 2005 of working in conjunction with pro-Palestinian and “peace” activists to delegitimize Israel in the eyes of the world and “propose its destruction”.
They add: “This is being paid for by Jewish support of higher education in Israel, and of organizations such as the US-based Association for Israel Studies.”
According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Sheldon Adelson, described as the richest Jew in the world, is considering whether to donate money to expand Georgetown University’s Programs for Jewish Civilization, which would involve hiring three more professors and possibly a new building. The newspaper said one of the key goals of Adelson and other advocates of the Jewish center is to moderate the Arab presence at the university, which is strong and getting stronger. This is particularly important because many Georgetown graduates end up at the State Department.

As to Pipes, it gets worse with Islamist Watch tomorrow.


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