Setting The Record Straight

Campus Watch corrects false allegations made against it.

Response to:

How American Jews Laid the Foundation for Israel's Blacklist
by Mairav Zonszein
The Forward
January 10, 2018

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
False accusations of being part of a lobby or conspiracy

Original text from How American Jews Laid the Foundation for Israel's Blacklist:

Excerpt from original article:

Even before BDS came onto the scene, primarily in the wake of the Second Intifada in 2000, a whole cadre of groups was founded whose mission is essentially to market Israel's image, which necessarily means assaulting and delegitimizing those who advocate for Palestinian rights, since that makes Israel look bad. These include StandWithUS, The David Project, Campus Watch, NGO Monitor, Honest Reporting, and more recently, The Canary Mission, and the AMCHA Initiative.

By excluding all those who challenge Israeli government policies, these organizations have effectively assumed a monopoly over Jewish legitimacy vis-a-vis the state of Israel.

Not only is it not surprising that Israel has created a blacklist; we know where it learned its tactics. The Jewish American community wrote the handbook on blacklisting Jewish dissent.

Campus Watch Responds:

It's difficult to suppress an eye-roll when reading many of our critics. The song (very old) is always the same: Israel-loving Zionist haters collude to suppress free speech, attack professors who criticize Israel or defend Palestinians, and do other unspeakable things. But a brave few, a happy few, a band of others somehow manage to overcome the blackout imposed by Zionist censors to publish erroneous, misleading, hyperbolic, sanctimonious retorts (take that!) in high profile, globally-distributed publications read by millions. Yawn.

The latest champion of light to engage the forces of darkness -- er, I mean, the latest charlatan to play the victim and make laughably false charges against Campus Watch (and others) is one Mairav Zonszein, who, we are told, "wrote her MA thesis on the changing nature of what it means to be pro-Israel in the American Jewish community."

Changing indeed. Whereas the innocent might be forgiven for thinking that being "pro-Israel," or pro-anything, would involve defending said entity from unscrupulous persons given to smearing, misrepresenting, and otherwise working to weaken or even destroy the object of their attacks, the nature of these actions has changed, you see. And keeping up with these changes means turning nature on its head, so that words come to mean their opposite: pro- = anti-; affection = hostility; survival = extinction.

Get it? Clever, no? No?

Alas, several corrections are in order: Campus Watch was founded in September, 2002, primarily in the wake of 9/11 (not the Second Intifada). It was not then, and is not now, a "Jewish organization." In fact, we don't receive orders from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem -- or even New York City.

We are not in the business of marketing "Israel's image," nor of "assaulting and delegitimizing those who advocate for Palestinian rights" -- although we do respond to attempts to smear and delegitimize us (modern life ain't beanball). Rather, CW critiques the entire field of Middle East studies (which includes but goes far beyond Israel) because this key discipline is among the most politicized and biased in all the humanities and social sciences. (See our mission statement here.)

CW is also unconcerned with "Jewish legitimacy," whatever that is, vis-a-vis Israel or anything else. Surely the writer knows that critics (or champions) of Israel or any other state come in all ethnicities, religions, nationalities, etc. Our sole concern is with the rigor and objectivity of a professor's scholarship and teaching.

Finally, we are hardly in the position to blacklist anyone. It is a sad comment on the contemporary left that its adherents consistently react to criticism in articles, blog posts, and social media as if the boot heal of the state were being used to smash opponents and usher in a new age of despotism. (CW is a project of the Middle East Forum, a private think tank; we neither possess nor seek governmental powers.) Perhaps their intellectual vacuity causes spurs them to exaggerate their plight, especially in an age that champions false victimhood as virtue. Whatever the root of their maladies, however, CW continues to defend itself from attack -- time after time after time.

(Posted by Winfield Myers)