Philadelphia, May 6, 2005 – Columbia University's Middle East Institute has rejected an announcement for the Middle East Forum's summer internship program.
The Middle East Forum requested that it be sent out on April 22, 2005. Noting the announcement had not gone out, the Forum sent a follow-up inquiry on May 5. In reply, Astrid Benedek, MEI's associate administrator, explained that she would not do so until the Forum made changes on its Campus Watch website. She also indicated she would not reply again to the MEF ("I think we best end our communication right here").
This refusal contradicts an earlier statement by Benedek about the institute's policy of semi-automatically forwarding information for "countless other … outside organizations."
The Middle East Institute is directed by former PLO advisor Rashid Khalidi.
Although Columbia's Middle East Institute receives taxpayer funding via the federal government's International Studies in Higher Education Act, Title VI, it demonstrably shows a lack of impartiality. For example, while it turned down the MEF intern announcement, it on May 2, 2005 circulated an invitation for a study trip to Gaza sponsored by the Faculty For Israeli - Palestinian Peace, a group that blames "the occupation" for all the region's problems.
This latest development again confirms the depth of the problems in Middle East studies at Columbia University (on which see http://www.campus-watch.org/survey.php/id/16). It also reconfirms that stakeholders in the university need to scrutinize its actions carefully.
Campus Watch, www.CampusWatch.org, founded in 2002 by the Middle East Forum, critiques Middle East Studies at North American colleges and universities with an intent to improve them.
Media contact: Alex Joffe