Setting The Record Straight

Campus Watch corrects false allegations made against it.

Response to:

What Is Left of America (and Its Experts) in the Taliban Era?
by Abdelwahab El-Affendi
August 31, 2021

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

Original text from What Is Left of America (and Its Experts) in the Taliban Era?:

Opponents of [Edward Said's] views, including an alliance of neoconservatives and pro-Israel lobbies, launched multiple crusades against fair-minded academics, including campaigns of defamation, lobbying to cut official funds to universities deemed anti-Israel, or even anti-America.

These ventures included the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, set up in 1995 by Lynne Cheney and Senator Joe Lieberman, and described by critics as a form of New McCarthyism for its systematic targeting of progressive academics as "enemies of the American civilisation".

In 2002, the pro-Israel lobbyists launched Campus Watch, dedicated to targeting academics deemed hostile to Israel's agenda. The group published a "black list" of "offending" academics, and urged students to snitch on their professors!

Campus Watch Responds:

Writing from the terrorist-friendly confines of Qatar, Abdelwahab El-Affendi, a professor of politics at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, sees a Jewish conspiracy behind every affront to his tender sensibilities. According to his fevered imagination, critics of Edward Said's Orientalism (1978), including neoconservatives (a euphemism for Jewish intellectuals) and "pro-Israel lobbies" (Jews who defend Israel's right to exist) launched nothing less than "crusades" (an odd word choice, no?) against peace-loving professors. These included "campaigns of defamation" and "lobbying" (hey, they're THE LOBBY, right?) to defund "universities deemed anti-Israel," and so on.

The chronology-challenged El-Affendi segues from Said (1978) to ACTA (1995) and the "New McCarthyism," "targeting" those innocent academics, and enemies of civilization before landing on Campus Watch's (CW) doorstep in 2002. From Jimmy Carter to George Bush, rotary telephones to the Internet, in three mendacious sentences!

Having saved the best for last, he gets everything wrong about CW. So, for the record again (and again, and again):

  • CW was not launched by "pro-Israel lobbyists." It was launched by Daniel Pipes as a project of the Middle East Forum to critique the myriad weaknesses of Middle East studies (MES) in the aftermath of 9/11. CW critiques all manner of problems in MES, far beyond anything to do with Israel. Oh, and Pipes is not a "lobbyist" for anyone or any nation: he's a scholar, which is more than can be said of propagandists like El-Affendi.
  • CW has never "targeted academics deemed hostile to Israel's agenda." As with the rest of the Middle East Forum, CW approaches all material from the perspective of America's, not Israel's, interests. No one sends us "Israel's agenda," whatever that is; we steer our own course.
  • CW has no "black list" of "offending academics" – both terms offered in quotes, as if lifted from our website. Where, professor, did you find these? You didn't: you made them up, because they don't exist at CW. At its September 2002 launch, CW posted dossiers on some of the most politicized professors. After two (2) weeks, having served their purpose, the dossiers were removed. Had El-Affendi bothered to look, he might have noticed their absence. Not that we would expect such thoroughness or honesty, mind you.
  • Finally, CW invites students who are bullied, graded down, or otherwise targeted (that word!) for their views to let us know. That's called exercising their free speech rights, and it has nothing to do with being asked to "snitch on their professors." Such a totalitarian attitude to student rights has no place in the classroom, but we're hardly shocked that a tool of the Al-Thani family would express such a worldview. After all, it's why CW was – and is – so needed.

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