A pro-Israeli think tank launched an Internet site Wednesday, September 18, to "monitor" the attitudes of American professors and universities toward Islamic "fundamentalism" and the Arab-Israeli conflict, while Jewish groups in the U.S. are using television advertisements to publicize itself as the "only democracy in the Middle East."
Under the name of Campus Watch, the site, launched by the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum, will maintain what it calls "dossiers" on professors and academic institutions and collect information from students regarding their teachers' political opinions, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The site encourage students to "report" their professors' speech and acts under the banner of "keep us informed", asking then "to provide Campus Watch with reports on Middle East-related scholarship, lectures, classes, demonstrations, and other activities relevant to our work."
The site ads that information not yet been published or only reported in the local/campus press is most useful.
Forum director Daniel Pipes, and Martin Kramer, editor of the forum's Middle East Quarterly, have been prominent critics of Middle East studies as taught in U.S. universities.
According to the Wall Street Journal, institutions the site will focus on include the University of North Carolina, where freshmen this year were required to read passages from the Qur'an, and Harvard University, where a Muslim-American student delivered a commencement address originally titled, "My American Jihad."
At the same time, Jewish groups in the United States are starting a television advertising campaign and will spend more than .83 million ($3.36 billion) to promote Israel's side in its conflict with the Palestinians, the Sidney Morning Herald reported.
The ads will run on cable news stations in 100 cities, with the message that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, where Arabs, Jews and Christians "enjoy freedom" of religion and speech and the right to vote.
The ad does not mention that Palestinians are suffering on a daily basis under the occupation of the "only democracy in the Middle East" that kills civilians, demolish homes and covers up for its soldiers' terrorist acts against Palestinians.
"This is really a back to basics campaign," said David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), which is helping to fund the ads. "The essential element is that Israel is ... a kindred spirit of the United States."
While the ads do not mention the violence in the Middle East, supporters say the goal of the campaign is to build political support for Israel.
However, the New York Post reported that CNN is refusing to run ads promoting Israel as the Middle East's only democracy, saying it does not run "advocacy advertising regarding international issues from regions in conflict".
James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, a pro-Arab advocacy group, criticized the campaign.
"Of course I find it troubling. What they're trying to do is sell an image that will cover up the real problems that exist."