It was ten years ago this week, on September 18, 2002, that Campus Watch—a project of the Middle East Forum that reviews and critiques Middle East studies in North America with an aim to improving them—opened its doors. The response was instantaneous: the Middle East studies establishment, long unused to outside scrutiny, recoiled in horror at the prospect of accountability and proclaimed themselves martyrs. Declaring "solidarity" with eight academics Campus Watch (CW) had identified as apologists for Palestinian violence or militant Islam, over 100 faculty and graduate students, most from fields other than Middle East studies, requested to be listed on the CW website. Thus was born the "Solidarity with Apologists" list and more importantly, the preposterous conceit that outside criticism of academia is a form of "McCarthyist" censorship.
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Middle East Forum president and CW founder Daniel Pipes notes the occasion at National Review Online's The Corner:
Campus Watch, the Middle East Forum's project to critique Middle East studies in North America, opened its metaphorical doors on September 18, 2002, to a hysterical opposition from the academics that did much, thank you, to propel it to prominence and effectiveness.
On the project's fifth anniversary, I wrote an assessment in which I noted some of our accomplishments but noted that "the field's basic problems remain in place." Ditto on the tenth anniversary.
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