During a recent dispute between our department at University College, London, and a research panel staffed by the British Arabist academic mafia, my colleague came running into the office and announced that he could find nothing on the Internet to prove the charge that these Arabists were indeed biased and prejudiced.
Herein lies the crux of the problem facing the study of the State of the Israel in Europe today.
Back in the so-called "bad old days" of the mid-1980s - when PhDs were sold to Arab students (particularly Gulf States students) - everything was black and white. British newspapers were full of articles by eminent Arab and British Arabist scholars randomly calling for the destruction of Israel and its replacement by a Marxist (yes) revolutionary Palestinian state.
In 2002 we have seen the remnants of this old school with the Mona Baker scandal, in which two Israeli academics were fired in a blatant case of racial discrimination by the outspoken Arabist academic.
In truth this case was relatively simple and easy to deal with. So overt was Baker's action that it appears she will not be allowed to get away with it. This, however, was really only the tip of the iceberg; uncovering the true picture of British academia is now much more complex. The new generation of Arabist scholars are much more sophisticated at covering their tracks than the likes of Baker.
Currently there are three ways of securing their ideological hegemony in the field of Middle East research.
The first lies through the staffing of quasi-government research bodies that fund the majority of research in the UK through competitive solicited and unsolicited rounds of research proposals. Here the awarding bodies are crammed full of Arabists (of UK and Arab origin) who are reluctant to fund any Israel project that does not include a degree of Israel-bashing in the proposal.
It helps, for example, to use the term "Zionist entity" in the proposal rather than Israel, and to always talk of the Occupied Territories.
The second method lies in the appointment procedure to tenured academic positions. Here it helps to have Arabist friends in high places and be "ideologically" on message with the Arabist cause. In short, don't forget to bash Israel during your interview, and argue that Ariel Sharon is an enemy of peace.
Finally comes the generous endowments many former students leave their old colleges. Both Exeter and Durham have received some $6 million to $7m. each to set up Middle East Studies centers in the past two years. The source of funding in both cases was ex-Gulf students who undertook PhDs at these colleges.
Though today it is clear that universities do not sell PhDs, some academics are so keen on having rich PhDs that they even help the students translate their work into English (a requirement for a PhD in the UK).
In other instances the supervisors rewrite the thesis to a degree that makes it difficult to argue it is the sole work of the original author.
HEADS OF universities claim these Arabists are good for business in this market-driven academic age. They bring in high fee-paying students from the Middle East, which helps ease the economic deficit nearly all British universities currently suffer from.
Heads tend to turn a blind eye to the dubious background of some of these post-graduates.
In the past 10 years a Hamas leader has been welcomed at Exeter, and the leader of Islamic Jihad at Durham. Other students are sent by various Arab states merely to spy on their fellow students (Libya being the worst proponent of this).
The current concentration on attempts by these Arabists to secure an academic boycott of Israel has tended to distract attention from worrying tendencies among some Israeli scholars - particularly the left-wing-dominated Israeli expat academic community.
In short, some Israeli professors appear to regard the study of Israel as being for Israelis only. This latent form of racism is becoming rife in some institutions, where Israel scholars clearly fear for their positions in light of the threat of an academic boycott against Israel.
It is also clear that this trend is not unique to academia. Several Israeli academics greeted the recent appointment of Bret Stephens to the editorship of The Jerusalem Post with scorn. Their comments, not worth repeating, were underpinned by the belief that an American should not be put in charge of an Israeli newspaper.
These are worrying times for the academic study of Israel. Not only is the Arab camp becoming more radical, better organized and cleverer at covering its tracks; elements of the left-wing-dominated Israeli academia are becoming very defensive and extremely insular.
Israeli scholars, particularly those based overseas, need to be careful about their attitude to other scholars, and to avoid slating Israel to please their respective employers in their host countries.
The writer is director of the Center for Israeli Studies at University College, London.