The sessions of our workshop covered a wide range of topics touching on the mixed history of repression and expansion in Middle East studies. The workshop was the first of its kind and was generously supported by the Middle East Studies Association and the Islamic Fund of the Watson Institute, among others. Session One, "The U.S. State Department and the Legal Status of Scholars," included Carol Rose (executive director, American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts), Elke Breker (Brown University Office of International Scholar and Student Services), Elizabeth Perry (consular officer, U.S. Department of State), and Kate Deboer (director of Fulbright foreign student and Israeli-Arab scholarship programs for America-Mideast Educational and Training Services). The presentations addressed the practical rather than the theoretical aspects of bringing foreign scholars to the United States, as well as the impact of shifting rules on academic work. To our delight, there was real disagreement about the significance of the new visa restrictions. Even if the resulting conversation did not produce a consensus, it reflected the fact that this question is being deliberated with the seriousness it deserves.
Session Two, "Academic Publishing and ‘The Public,'" was moderated by James Der Derian (director of Global Security Program, Watson Institute), and included presentations by Stephen Walt (Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University), Lynne Withey (editor, University of California Press), and Juan Cole (University of Michigan). Again, the presentations emphasized the practical, recent experience of the individuals. Walt spoke about the aftermath of the famous and controversial "Israel Lobby" article he co-wrote with John Mearsheimer. Withey narrated the story of the pressures—most coming from Alan Dershowitz—brought on the press when it published Norman Finkelstein's book Beyond Chutzpah. Cole spoke about how scholars needed to better explain the value of their work to the general public—and how blogging could play a major role in such efforts.
Session Three, "Campus Surveillance," was moderated by Mark Tessler (University of Michigan) and included papers by Lisa Anderson (dean, School of International Public Affairs, Columbia University), Robert O'Neil (University of Virginia, and former chair of the AAUP's Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure), and myself. Anderson's paper, delivered by Tessler, used the example of the attacks of Campus Watch and the David Project on Columbia faculty to show the damage that can be done to academic freedom from outside. I surveyed the Web sites of monitoring groups and argued that their rhetoric of objectivity and freedom were antithetical to notions of academic disinterest and self-governance. O'Neil focused on the effects of monitoring within the classroom. He suggested that while there was a real lack of legal remedies to the online slander of monitoring groups, other non-legal strategies are available for containing their threat to the sanctity of classroom teaching.
In Session Four, former U.S. senator Lincoln Chafee, now at the Watson Institute, spoke of his experience on the Foreign Relations Committee with regard to Middle East peace. In Session Five, Ken Stern of the American Jewish Committee delivered a talk entitled, "Criticism of Israel Is Not Anti-Semitic, Except When It Is," in which he offered a parsing of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.