Setting The Record Straight

Campus Watch corrects false allegations made against it.

Response to:

The Battle for Palestine on US Campuses: a review of 'We Will Not Be Silenced: The Academic Repression of Israel's Critics'
by Kim Jensen
July 6, 2017

False allegations of attacking professors who criticize Israel
False allegations of suppressing free speech
False allegations of attacking critics of America's policy in the Middle East
False allegations of being a Zionist organization
Misc. Corrections
False accusations of being part of a lobby or conspiracy
False allegations of connections to other organizations

Original text from The Battle for Palestine on US Campuses: a review of 'We Will Not Be Silenced: The Academic Repression of Israel's Critics':

Excerpt of text referring to Campus Watch:

This climate of censorship is especially hard felt on college and university campuses where a historic upsurge in successful pro-Palestine activism has led to a corollary increase in McCarthyist pressure by the dozens of Zionist organizations who have formed into a network called the Israel on Campus Coalition. Characterized by their shameless meddling in internal university proceedings, well-organized groups like the AMCHA Initiative, Stand With Us, Campus Watch, Canary Mission, and ADL are the most visible tip of a slander-industrial complex whose mission is to purge professors and students who challenge their own narrative.

Campus Watch Responds:

Rarely have so many errors been committed in so little space as they were by one Kim Jensen earlier this month. It takes a special kind of carelessness and cluelessness to get almost everything about an organization--in this case Campus Watch--wrong. To be fair, Jensen had help: she's after all reviewing a book chock-full of fallacies that sports a foreword by the infamous conspiracy monger and anti-Semite Cynthia McKinnney. But we're hardy folks here at CW, given that we've seen such nonsense from the likes of the execrable Mondoweiss many times over the years. It's what they do.

So, for the record (yet again), CW does not engage in censorship, a fact that should be obvious to anyone with a modicum of knowledge of the rule of law. We do not possess, nor do we seek, nor would we use them if we had, the state power to silence anyone for anything. It is a long-held and dearly beloved affectation of a certain type of delicate professor to cry "censorship" whenever some meddling (see below) outsider has the temerity to criticize him. Poor thing. Perhaps someday he'll understand, but we rather doubt it.

McCarthyist--ah yes, McCarthyist, the refuge of those for whom history is too complex (see theories, conspiracy). Just as we lack and do not seek and would not accept the powers of censorship, so we lack and do not seek and would not accept the powers inherent in true McCarthyism, which depends (again) on the power of the state to have any meaning. Let's try arguing by analogy and see if it helps: Your neighbor cannot censor you or exercise a McCarthyist control of your life, although he can certainly criticize you and call attention to your failings. Similarly, CW can't do these things either. Because we're a private entity with no legal oversight of anyone's exercise of their First Amendment rights. We use articles, blog posts, and social media, not legally binding edicts.

Zionist networks? CW is not a "Zionist" organization, but a project dedicated to critiquing the intellectual shortcomings of Middle East studies. Sometimes those shortcomings involve scholarship and teaching on Israel; more often they do not. In any event, we are free to do as we will without worrying about running afoul of anyone's lobby, not least because of the fictional nature of said lobby.

Speaking of which, we are also not a member of the Israel on Campus Coalition. We have worked with other organizations on some issues, most notably reform of Title VI of the Higher Education Opportunity Act, but that effort has nothing to do with the subject at hand.

As for "shameless meddling in internal university proceedings," the real shamelessness here lies in those who believe academe to be a sacred grove off-limits to comment or criticism from the great unwashed. Medical doctors, attorneys, politicians, sports stars, clergy, butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers all manage to survive external criticism without catching the vapors. Only professors view themselves as so removed from quotidian life that they should remain untouched by the opinions of the hoi poloi.

Now, CW must tip its hat to "slander-industrial complex," a phrase at once clever and mendacious, like vicious gossip that titillates even as it repulses. CW stands by the rigor and accuracy of its criticism and invites anyone to examine our work. And while we're proud of our output, we doubt we qualify as "industrial," although we appreciate the unintended compliment. The charge of slander, though, is absurd, unprovable (because it never happened), and a sign those who can't refute our criticism resort to ad hominem fallacies.

Finally, regarding the charge that we wish to "purge professors and students" who challenge our narrative, CW is not a front group enraged at the world's refusal to adhere to an authoritarian form of ideological purity. Therefore, we don't engage in purges of our own, nor do we wish to see them in academe. We instead welcome intellectual and philosophical diversity and look forward to engaging those with whom we disagree. That distinguishes us from the likes of Mondoweiss and the contributors to "We Will not Be Silenced," who appear not to have had a new idea since 1848.

(Posted by Winfield Myers, director of academic affairs and of Campus Watch, Middle East Forum)