A pro-Israel organization has set up a Web site to monitor professors and universities for pro-Arab, anti-Israel bias. The Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum organized the CampusWatch site to counter pervasive bias in universities´ Middle East studies. Forum director Daniel Pipes said that his think tank hopes to eventually monitor 250 North American academic institutions.
"Our goal is to monitor, critique and improve Middle East studies," Pipes said. "We [pro Israel academics] are not at universities because our views are not welcome. We´re trying to create an alternative voice within the field."
Scholars whose articles are compiled into dossiers on the Web site include Hamid Dabashi and Joseph Massad of Columbia, John Esposito of Georgetown, Juan Cole of the University of Michigan and Snehal Shingavi of University of California at Berkeley. Other institutions whose dossiers are listed include Stanford, Northeastern, the University of Chicago and the University of North Carolina.
Opponents immediately called the project a "McCarthy-like" attempt to gag opposition to American policy in the Middle East. Professors listed on the site said they had been bombarded with emails over the weekend. In a show of support for those named on the site, about 100 other academics have asked to be added to the list.
The Campus Watch site accuses American Middle Eastern scholars of generally being biased against the United States and being apologists for unfriendly regimes. University of Chicago historian Rashid Khalidi, who is quoted as sympathizing with the Palestinian cause, called the site "slimy" and intended to stifle opposition. "What they´re trying to do is exclude from public debate opinions that go against the neo-conservative consensus that dominates discussion of policy on Iraq or policy on the Israeli conflict by smearing us and calling us aliens," he said.
Pipes said he would not remove a "Keep Us Informed" page on the site that opponents say is an attempt to get students to turn in their professors. He said it gives students a place to complain about mistreatment. " What you have in university is exclusion of alternate points of view," Pipes said. "You´ve got to subscribe to the party [anti Israel] line and then you can make your career. If you don´t, you´re out." Pipes intends to change that.