Philadelphia – March 30, 2021 – A new report by the Middle East Forum's Campus Watch, "Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute: The Omidyar Empire's Misadventures in Academe," is the first deep dive into Roshan's funding of politicized, anti-American and anti-Israel scholars at universities across the globe.
Roshan is a private U.S. foundation funded by the Omidyar Group, the philanthropy of eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam. It is run by Iranian-born Elahe Omidyar Mir-Djalali, Pierre's mother.
Under the guise of supporting the understanding of Iranian culture and history, Roshan funnels money – and a veneer of legitimacy – to politicized professors who skew history against the West and, at times, toward the Tehran regime.
The report demonstrates that hidden among many legitimate grants on Iranian culture are those supporting tendentious, highly politicized, even Islamist projects and individuals, including:
- Fatemeh Keshavarz – Roshan Institute chair in Persian Studies and director of Roshan Institute for Persian Studies at the U. of Maryland, whose book "Jasmine and Stars: Reading More than Lolita in Tehran" was presented as a "pro-Islamic Republic" response to Azar Nafisi's critical "Reading Lolita in Tehran."
- Hamid Dabashi – Professor of Iranian Studies at Columbia University who has called American Jews the "diehard Fifth Column Zionists working against the best interests of Americans."
- Noam Chomsky – Vehemently anti-Israel and anti-U.S. former MIT professor who whitewashes the Iranian regime and blames Israel and the U.S. for unrest in the Middle East.
- Maseeh Ganjali – U. of Hawaii apologist for the Tehran regime who complained of the "two-dimensional" representation of Iran by U.S. media: "It's still a young government. It's sort of a new country with a lot of young people. ... they're figuring a lot of things out ..."
- The Roshan Institute Fellowship for Excellence in Persian and Iranian Studies – A recipient at the U. of Arizona produced "Aiding Israel: How the Iranian Media Bolsters Israeli Pinkwashing," falsely asserting that Israel persecutes Palestinians by diverting attention to the freedoms enjoyed by the LGBT community in Israel.
"Roshan's strategy of maintaining a low profile has allowed it to escape scrutiny from higher education watchdogs and other media so that its biases went unnoticed – until now," said Campus watch director Winfield Myers. "We hold Roshan and, by extension, the Omidyar empire, to account for their role in strengthening the politicized status quo in Middle East studies."
The Middle East Forum promotes American interests in the region and protects Western civilization from Islamism. It does so through a combination of original ideas, focused activism, and the funding of allies.
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