History professor and former president of the Middle East Studies Association, Joel Beinin, went on "extended leave" from Stanford in 2006 due to what he described as the university's "minimal institutional interest in the study and teaching of the modern Middle East." Since that time, Beinin has been serving as director of Middle East Studies at the American University in Cairo (AUC), Egypt.
But was it scholarly concerns or mounting criticism that caused Beinin to leave Stanford for AUC? In a 2006 interview with Egypt Today, Beinin was portrayed as a victim of "conservative reaction" on the part of Middle East Forum director Daniel Pipes, Islam scholar Martin Kramer, and others for being "a staunch critic not only of American policy in the region, but of the state of Israel itself." The interview went on to note that Beinin, after "having fought his fair share of battles," was "ready to settle into...a more comfortable life in Egypt's capital."
Now, it seems, Beinin may be heading back to the U.S. For the past several months, rumors have been circulating that Beinin is being considered to head up Portland State University's (PSU) Middle East Studies Center. A source who wished not to be publicly named and who has contacts at PSU has confirmed that the hiring process is underway and could be finalized within the month.
Needless to say, the prospect of Beinin joining PSU in such a high-profile manner raises concerns for the Portland community. Beinin is notorious for his ideological bias, shoddy scholarship, apologetics, and unsavory tactics.
As Campus Watch noted previously, former Stanford professor Steven Zipperstein once told J: The Jewish Weekly of Northern California, "It's said that Joel Beinin doesn't believe in balance as an intrinsically crucial goal in academic life. The charge is accurate, and he would acknowledge it, I think." Alyssa Lappen wrote about Beinin for Campus Watch in 2004, and stated that, "if one individual can showcase all the flaws of Middle East Studies in academia, Joel Beinin is that man."
Considering Beinin's long list of dubious accomplishments, one might wonder why PSU would hire him as director of its Middle East Studies Center. The answer to that question remains to be seen.