Setting The Record Straight

Campus Watch corrects false allegations made against it.

Response to:

Academic Freedom, CampusWatch Goes after Columbia's Rashid Khalidi and PARC
by Cecilie Surasky
January 13, 2010

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

Campus Watch Responds:

In a rambling diatribe that substitutes assertion for argument, Cecilie Surasky of Muzzlewatch, a project of Jewish Voice for Peace, poses false premises about Campus Watch research from which she draws necessarily false conclusions.

She begins with the most hackneyed cliché in the far left's reservoir of ideas-whose-time-has-passed:

Is space opening up or shutting down for professors who criticize Israel or express sympathy for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement?

One answer is that academic McCarthyite group CampusWatch is, unfortunately, still in business.

Not only are we still in business, but we have learned new words and phrases over the years--a virtue that separates us from some verbally-fatigued antagonists.

She continues:

In fact, they just published yet another hopefully meaningless attack on the Palestinian American Research Center (PARC) and keynote speaker at their October conference, the preeminent Middle East scholar (and famously, former-friend-of-Obama) Rashid Khalidi, Columbia University's Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies. Why do they want PARC to stop receiving funding from the Department of Education? Because in his speech at a conference on Palestine, Khalidi criticized Israel, and worse, criticized Campus Watch! Comical, yes. Imagine, one of the country's most respected Middle East scholars having the audacity to criticize Israel and CampusWatch at a conference called "Palestine: What We Know."

Hope is also a virtue, but sometimes it's no match for facts. The article in question (about which more below) was in fact our second on this topic: Surasky missed the first one, "PARC's Anti-Israel Polemics," which appeared in 2008. It broke the story on PARC's taxpayer-funded radicalism and bigotry, and we were so pleased with its reception that we ordered up another.

Surasky asserts that our author, Jonathan Schanzer, found PARC's federal funding problematic because Khalidi criticized Israel and CW. Such a charge is evidence of either vincible ignorance or invincible naiveté, since the article is in fact filled with evidence that PARC is hardly the type of recipient that Congress had in mind when it created Title VI funding for area studies. Comical better describes the assertion that American taxpayers owe PARC grants; tragedy more aptly captures the reality that they receive it.

Surasky then writes:

CampusWatch's Jonathan Schanzer smears Khalidi with a charge he denies, that he was ever an official spokesperson for the PLO....

Again, Surasky simply asserts but fails to refute. In making his charge, Schanzer drew upon earlier Campus Watch research as presented in a 2004 article, "Arafat Minion as Professor." Here's a bit of what they found; the article contains additional evidence:

According to Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times, writing on June 9, 1982, Mr. Khalidi was at that time "a director of the Palestinian press agency." That would be Wikalat al-Anba al-Filastinija, or WAFA, the PLO press agency, where Mr. Khalidi's wife, Mona, was chief English-language editor in 1976-82. Mr. Friedman quotes Mr. Khalidi in his official capacity saying that the Israelis are out to "crush the P.L.O."

Surasky also examines a recent article at Electronic Intifada. Because it contained numerous errors and misrepresented CW and its research record, I critiqued it earlier in "Correcting Nora Barrows-Friedman of the Electronic Intifada."

Comment: The sloppy, tendentious research on display in Surasky's article typifies the reactionary left, which has become an enclosed, self-referential community content to demonize perceived enemies rather than advance legitimate research agendas.

(Posted by Winfield Myers)