The Middle East Studies Association (MESA) is continuing its mission to make academia safe for anti-Israel bigotry.
In a letter to New York University president Andrew Hamilton released Monday, MESA's Committee on Academic Freedom (CAF) charged that the Department of Education's investigation into antisemitism at NYU, announced in November of last year, is "a politically motivated assault on academic freedom and on the constitutionally protected right of free speech, as well as a threat to the autonomy and integrity of NYU and every other institution of higher education in this country."
The investigation was initiated in response to a complaint from an NYU student in light of several aggressive actions by members of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a virulently anti-Israel organization with an active chapter at NYU. In one instance, the New York Police Department charged an SJP member with assault after he grabbed the arm of a female student holding a microphone as she sang the Israeli national anthem.
In her complaint, the student argued, "SJP is a radical organization affiliated with terror groups, bent on adopting a policy of anti-normalization of Jewish groups, and on isolating, demonizing and ultimately destroying the Jewish state."
Just how low will it go?
The Middle East Studies Association (@MESA_1966) worries that @NYUniversity's inquiry into the execrable Students for Justice in Palestine (@NYUSJP) "weaponize[s] allegations of anti-Semitism ... to advance a political agenda." https://t.co/BIYIQES0ax— Daniel Pipes دانيال بايبس (@DanielPipes) January 27, 2020
MESA's letter defends SJP, which organized a boycott of pro-Israel student groups at NYU. MESA says it opposes the Department's investigation because it's "politically motivated," and that the complaint conflates support for Palestinians and criticism of Israel with antisemitism.
That claim is false. SJP and related groups who promote the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel are not critics of Israel or Israeli policy; they are opposed to Israel's existence.
MESA president Dina Rizk Khoury, who supports academic boycotts of Israel, co-signed the letter,
If you thought MESA couldn't discredit itself any more after Marc Lamont Hill, a Temple University communications professor and anti-Israel activist with no expertise in the Middle East, delivered the organization's keynote address at its annual meeting last November, think again. Its latest defense of campus thuggery proves its decades-long decline continues unabated.
David Gerstman is managing editor of Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.