Dec. 13, 2003, Philadelphia – Several Middle East academics came out this month in public opposition to a new peace initiative for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The professors signed a statement by the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), an Illinois-based group the FBI has fingered as a U.S. front organization for HAMAS, the Palestinian group listed by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization.
By signing this petition, Campus Watch notes, these professors again demonstrate the extremist cast of the Middle East studies field. Indeed, the petition reflects anathema to a peaceful, two-state solution. Among the points supported by the professors are:
- An insistence on the "right of return" to Israel of the descendants of the Palestinian refugees, which now number as many as four million. This is tantamount to calling for the destruction of the State of Israel.
- Scorn for the "exclusive nature of the Israeli polity as a ‘Jewish State'."
- Questioning of Israeli sovereignty over West Jerusalem, Israel's capital.
The IAP circulated the statement after the grassroots peace initiative known as the Geneva Accords were signed on December 1, 2003. Middle East specialists who signed it include:
As`ad AbuKhalil, (Department of Politics, California State University);
Samih Farsoun, (Professor of Sociology, American University);
Joseph Massad, (Assistant Professor of Middle East History, Columbia University); and
Erica Dodd (Adjunct Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture, University of Victoria).
"These professors are agitating for the destruction of Israel," said Daniel Pipes, founder of Campus Watch. "We hope that university officials and stakeholders take note of this behavior."
Jonathan Calt Harris, managing editor of Campus Watch, notes that, "Campus Watch is not surprised that Joseph Massad signed this statement, as he is among the most radical professors in the Middle East field today. However, we are sad to see that some other professors have also signed this statement. We recently had seen a relative decline in radicalism among Middle East specialists."
Campus-Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum, reviews and critiques Middle East studies in North America with an aim to improving them. The project mainly addresses five problems: analytical failures, the mixing of politics with scholarship, intolerance of alternative views, apologetics, and the abuse of power over students. The work of Campus Watch is featured on its website, www.campus-watch.org.