Failing to muster empirical evidence in her opinion piece, Laurie Adkin of the University of Alberta settles for ad hominem attacks and religion-based smears against Campus Watch (CW), a project of the Middle East Forum in Philadelphia.
If Adkin intended to refute charges that some critics of Israel and Zionism cross the line and engage in anti-Semitic rhetoric and behaviour, her obsession with Jews, Israelis, Zionists and their supporters undermines her position even further.
Campus Watch, she asserts erroneously, is a "right-wing Zionist organization" founded to "identify and harass" scholars who publicly criticize Israel; it and unnamed allies "equate informed criticism" of the "State of Israel with anti-semitic (sic) hate speech."
These are loaded words for one who claims to desire nothing more than the freedom to criticize a small nation in the Middle East.
In fact, CW was founded to critique five significant problems in the highly politicized academic field of Middle East studies: analytical failures, the mixing of politics with scholarship, intolerance of alternative views, apologetics and the abuse of power over students.
It accomplishes this mission without regard to religion, ethnicity or nationality. CW does not harass anyone, nor does it take the charge of anti-Semitism lightly; Adkin's assertions to the contrary evince not thorough research (she offers not a whit of evidence), but the conceit common among academics that they alone, among all groups in society, are exempt from critique. Only on campus is criticism equated with censorship.
Also common - dominant throughout academe, in fact - are the political positions that Adkin claims to defend against an onslaught by censorious opponents.
This fact, her op-ed in a major newspaper, the conference she mentions in her opening paragraph and her academic career demonstrate the ease with which she voices her opinions.
In speaking up for her own rights to free speech, Adkin should defend equally those of others, including Campus Watch.
Director of Academic Affairs
Middle East Forum