Setting The Record Straight

Campus Watch corrects false allegations made against it.

Response to:

Is Musa Al-Gharbi the Last Academic Who Can Tell the Truth?
by B. Duncan Moench
May 3, 2021

False allegations of suppressing free speech
Misc. Corrections

Original text from Is Musa Al-Gharbi the Last Academic Who Can Tell the Truth?:

At first, no one took much notice of Al-Gharbi's relatively uncontroversial takes about U.S. Middle East policy published in an academic journal and a somewhat obscure left-wing website. But that changed when Al-Gharbi got into a Twitter spat with an activist associated with Campus Watch, a right-wing organization that clumsily opposes the radicalization of higher education.

. . .

Al-Gharbi's great accomplishment is that he went from being ignored by outlets like The New York Times and CNN to entertaining requests from them without ever changing his politics. His cancellation at the University of Arizona by the likes of Fox News and Campus Watch didn't transform him into a bitter, angry crusader intent on "exposing" the American right (which is probably what some of his new suitors envisioned).

Campus Watch Responds:

In a May 3, 2021, article in Tablet magazine, contributing writer B. Duncan Moench made false allegations against Campus Watch regarding events from seven years ago. After alerting Moench to his errors and engaging him in a lengthy email exchange, Moench took our complaints to his editors and, in his words, "made your case" and "tried to make your points." But, he explained, "Tablet has a strict policy of not printing retractions or corrections unless a clear factual error has been made, which, after an investigation, they don't believe is the case here."

We appreciate Moench's efforts to correct the record, but find Tablet's editors' refusal to acknowledge and correct published errors unacceptable. Their intransigence is also puzzling, as the facts prove our points.

First, Moench asserted falsely (first paragraph in the "Response to" box above) that in 2014 "an activist associated with Campus Watch" got into a "Twitter spat" with Columbia Ph.D. student Musa Al-Gharbi. He also sullied our reputation and misstated our mission.

In his email exchange with CW, Moench revealed that the unnamed "activist" to whom he referred in his article was Zuhdi Jasser, MD, a moderate Muslim scholar who has for years campaigned against Islamism. CW has no knowledge of whether Jasser in fact exchanged tweets with Al-Gharbi.

We do know, however – as we explained to Moench – that there are no "activists" associated with CW. There are CW Fellows, occasional contributors who write on commission, and a CW Advisory Board comprised of professors. But there are no activists.

Moreover, Zuhdi Jasser has never been associated with CW in any way. His actions on Twitter or any other medium are his alone and in no way represent CW. He is an independent actor unconnected to CW.

Second, Moench revealed via email that he believed CW had a role "in publishing several pieces slamming al-Gharbi and putting him on public 'watch lists.'" This resulted, he claimed in his article, that we along with Fox News participated in Al-Gharbi's "cancellation" at Arizona (second paragraph in the "Response to" box above).

The truth, as we explained to Moench and as he explained to Tablet's editors, is as follows: In November 2014, Adam Kredo of the Washington Free Beacon reported that Al-Gharbi, then an instructor at the University of Arizona, was being criticized for "claiming that the U.S. military is 'a greater threat' than the Islamic State (IS) [ISIS] and for portraying American soldiers as anti-Muslim rapists who commit crimes on par with—or even worse than—IS itself."

In response, CW posted one blog post, one brief Facebook post, and mentioned Al-Gharbi in one paragraph of a 1,170-word article. We added a few articles from external sources to our archives. And that was it.

At no time did we place Al-Gharbi on any public "watch lists," as he appears on none of the lists CW maintains: Recommended Professors; Professors to Avoid; Israel Boycott Proponents; Israel Boycott Opponents; and Solidarity with Apologists. Nothing CW wrote or did concerning Al-Gharbi amounts to a "cancellation."

Moench also mischaracterized CW's mission and slighted our record. As we explained to him, CW is a niche project that critiques only Middle East studies in North American universities, not "the radicalization of higher education."

"Right-wing"? No. We critique biased, politicized scholarship and writing regardless of creed, nationality, ethnicity, or political perspective.

As for whether we go about our business "clumsily," we reply: pot, meet kettle.

Campus Watch calls on the editors of Tablet magazine to publicly acknowledge, apologize for, and correct these errors and mischaracterizations concerning CW. Absent these actions, especially given that the author in question informed them of their errors, Tablet's readers have little reason to take seriously any material they publish.

(Posted by Campus Watch director Winfield Myers)