In the phrase "post-Zionist Pantheon" the word "pantheon" is marked in blue, indicating that it is linked to another bit of information for whoever wants to bother to read it. This phrase appeared on the home page of
Among other names mentioned in the article were those of Ilan Pappe, Benny Morris (before he published his new book and his new approach concerning the "historic mistake" of the non- expulsion of all the Arabs from
Diller, who donated $5 million to set up a permanent framework for visiting professors from
"Well, that's not likely to be a problem," scoffs Kramer, "because
To prove this, Kramer brings citations from Yiftachel in which he ostensibly argues, among other things, that former prime minister Ehud Barak's offers to the Palestinians were humiliating. "Yiftachel was the kind of Israeli that an Edward Said-boosting, Saudi-connected
This wild attack on Yiftachel is only one aspect of Kramer's academic struggle, and not the most important. With respect to the direction of the curricula at Middle East studies departments at all the universities in the
Under the heading "Mission Statement," the editors of the site clarify: "Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum (Daniel Pipe's research institute in which Kramer also participates), reviews and critiques Middle East studies in North America, with an aim to improving them."
The project addresses five problems that Pipes and Kramer believe affect Middle Eastern studies in the
What has made the proprietors of the site particularly angry? This is extensively adumbrated in a book that Kramer has devoted to Middle East studies in the
Kramer casts personal aspersions on well-known Middle East scholars like John Esposito (who, he says, has never studied or taught at a major center for Middle East studies or Richard Bulliet, who was the head of the institute for Middle East studies at
Professor Zachary Lockman of the department of Middle Eastern history at New York University replies, noting that Kramer himself was a researcher at the Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, the heir to the Shiloah center for Middle Eastern and African Studies named after Reuven Shiloah, the founder of the Israeli intelligence community.
The names of this institute, notes Lockman, reflect its function not only as a research institute but also a major site where military, intelligence and Foreign Ministry people can interact with researchers who study issues that are relevant to policy. Lockman offers this model as a possible explanation for Kramer's demand to create a relationship between research institutes and the administration whereby the research institutes would answer to the state's needs.
While Lockman agrees with some of Kramer's points, his main argument is against the latter's attacks on the majority of the members of Middle East research institutes and his sweeping statement that they are a bunch of leftists, in thrall to Edward Said's theory about the West's orientalist perception of the East. He reminds Kramer that the role of academic researchers is not to predict the future but rather to explain the past. Lockman says that Kramer's book affords a banal perspective in that he states that the theories, paradigms and models are distorted and useless because they stand in the way of the direct and precise approach of the reality that he and others like him believe they hold.
Even blunter is Professor Joel Beinin of
But it turns out that not only Middle East researchers are on the cross-hairs of the neo-conservatives, but also researchers from
But the debate among the scholars is not in the realm of theory. The arguments of Daniel Pipes' and Martin Kramer's Campus Watch indicate the political direction of the debaters. They say that many American researchers of the Middle East have no respect for the national interests of their country and use their authority in order to scorn these interests, and that the professors of
Kramer and Pipes do not explain how exactly it happened that the Pentagon's own "Middle East experts" were unable to assess correctly the developments in
It is doubtful that the opinions of researchers like Pipes and Kramer could serve as a knowledge base for the administration when they present Islam as a single monolithic bloc and the Al Qaida organization as representing all the organizations of radical Islam. An outlook that attributes to Islam as a whole rooted in "personality characteristics" does of course concord with the "clash of cultures" theory propounded by Samuel Huntington but it ignores the profound differences in the existing perceptions in Islam.
"Criticism is the life breath of academia in a free society," says Dr. Yoram Meital of the Middle East studies department at
The dispute has recently moved into the political arena. In October, the House of Representatives approved an amendment to the higher education law, known as Title VI.
According to this provision, universities receive federal aid of tens of millions of dollars as support for international studies, including
This advisory body would be made up of seven appointed members, and their aim would be to help the national effort to educate and train citizens to take part in the internal security effort. The practical translation of this is that universities at which the
The proposed law could have a huge effect not only on American researchers. Researchers from all over the world, including
Roll out the Bar'el
By Martin Kramer
My Sandstorm entry on "How Not to Promote Israel Studies" got the attention of Zvi Bar'el, Ha'aretz correspondent, who made it the peg of an article that oozes bias and misinformation. I'm no more than a local phone call away from Bar'el, and I get calls from journalists around the world about what he labels my "academic struggle." But I guess a chat with me just would have complicated things. This is a cheap import of the irrational hysteria unleashed on the far left by HR3077. Israeli scholars, concludes Bar'el, "are liable to be required to reveal their political tendencies and their opinions of American policy before they are able to be visitors at advanced studies programs in the United States." Give me a break.
Sat, Mar 13 2004 3:44 pm