From: Gabriel Piterberg
To: Members of the UCLA Department of History
I take the liberty of bringing to your attention a personal matter only because it pertains to the academic freedom and integrity of UCLA. Last week (12/10) I sent Professor Kenneth Reinhard, director of the Center for Jewish Studies, the following e-mail:
"I have recently received from the Center for Jewish Studies a document entitled Winter Jewish Studies Courses at UCLA, which lists all the courses offered on Judaism and Israel. My History 197/201 seminar, Myths, Politics and Scholarship in Israel, Winter 2003, is absent from that list. As far as I could ascertain, this is the only course with a pertinent title on offer at UCLA in Winter 2003 that your list has omitted."
Let me emphasize that my seminar has no problem of enrollment. On the contrary, it is enrolled to capacity and on the 197 side there is a waiting list. I haven't heard back from Professor Reinhard or from anyone else at the Center for Jewish Studies. There is a lingering doubt in my mind about the possibility that the omission of my seminar was an innocent mistake. I think that this is an ominous sign that should not be ignored, and that the intensifying activity of Campus Watch at UCLA and other major campuses should be borne in mind as a pertinent context.
Campus Watch is a web site directed by Daniel Pipes and Martin Kramer, Middle East scholars and activists for the cause of the pro-Israeli lobby in America. The web site and other activities of these two individuals are a crusade against the community of the Middle East Studies Association, which is explicitly accused, among many other things, for the fact that more than half of its membership consists of people "of Middle Eastern origins." The web site itself is a black list of professors whose views are unpalatable to the pro-Israeli lobby and to the current administration. The academic community is advised to be wary of these professors, and students are encouraged to spy and report on what they— and other potential suspects—do in class and publish. As a major academic center with an illustrious tradition in Middle East studies, UCLA is one of the main targets of Campus Watch. Jim Gelvin and I are on its black list.