History Prof. Juan Cole is one of eight professors included on a list of allegedly biased professors and universities on the website www.campus-watch.org, a Philadelphia-based pro-Israeli Middle East Forum to monitor pro-Palestinian and pro-Arab sentiments on college campuses.
The upcoming Second National Student Conference on the Palestine Solidarity Movement, sponsored by Students Allied for Freedom and Equality, also attracted the website's attention with links to articles calling the University anti-Semitic.
Problems in the perception of Middle East issues led to the creation of the site, Middle East Forum Director Daniel Pipes said.
"Middle East studies is in very bad shape. There are profound mistakes of interpretation," Pipes said. By addressing the flaws of the discipline - which he said included the incorporation of politically radical ideas, instructors that do not tell the whole truth and professors' abuse of authority - Campus Watch can improve Middle East studies departments nationwide.
"We are the honest auditors of an intellectual Enron," Pipes said.
The University is included on the list because it is known for what Pipes called "false diversities" - racial, gender and class diversity.
"When it comes to the diversity that really counts - intellectual diversity - (the University doesn't) have it all," Pipes said.
Cole said the website does not represent his viewpoints accurately and is another attempt for right-wing extremist groups to influence academic discussion about the Middle East in the United States.
"The implication of the so-called "Campus Watch" website, that either I am disloyal or that I am anti-Israel, or, worse, a bigot, is a monstrous lie. The lie is being propagated as part of a more general campaign to control scholarly discourse on Middle East studies," Cole said. "This odious attempt to smear me and monitor me is no more to me than a loud fart by a boor in Philadelphia."
The criticism Campus Watch has generated is expected from certain groups, said Martin Kramer, editor of the Middle East Quarterly, who said his recent publications helped inspire the establishment of Campus Watch.
"These are the same people who ruthlessly criticize the media and the government," he said. "Professors have more protections than generals or journalists - it's called tenure - so sparing them external criticism seems redundant."
While Cole said he does have his viewpoints on the conflict in the Middle East, he disagrees with how the website is portraying them.
"A historian of the modern Middle East can hardly hide his views of the situation, and I have never tried. If anything, I now feel called upon to speak out more," Cole said. "I have always been a civil libertarian and a fierce defender both of the civil rights of all minorities and of the right of Israel to exist within secure and recognized borders."
Hamid Dabashi, Columbia University professor of Middle East and Asian language and culture, referred to the website as a "hit list," targeting innocent members of higher education.
"I don't know why I am worthy of having a dossier," Dabashi said.
This is not the first time Dabashi said he has suffered because of the Middle East Forum.
Since this summer, his undesired connection to the group has made him the victim of "racist and obscene" harassment - his computer was hacked and spammed e-mails were sent from his Columbia account, he said.
He added that he received obscene phone calls against him and his students.
Earlier this week, Campus Watch announced changes to its format by including professors' dossiers under its survey of institutions section.
The content of both sections remains unchanged, Pipes said.
While the website has attracted national attention, Cole said he has no plans to change his teaching tactics or opinions.
"I am not someone who can be intimidated. I have always treated all my students with respect and fairness and have good to excellent teaching evaluations," he said.
Cole is concerned about the affect Campus Watch will have on students who report professors' behavior, he said.
"To any degree that they can suborn a student to actually spy and send reports to a dossier on a member of the university community, they have deformed that student's character and pushed him or her to do something essentially undemocratic and anti-intellectual. That would be a very great shame," he said.
Since he said he doesn't use the classroom as a forum to propagate his views, Dabashi is not worried about students' reporting him.
Over the course of his 25-year teaching career, Dabashi said he has often been the subject of student praise.