Setting The Record Straight

Campus Watch corrects false allegations made against it.

Response to:

Thoughts on Academic Freedom at Pessah
by David Newman
The Jerusalem Post
April 17, 2011

False allegations of attacking professors who criticize Israel
False allegations of suppressing free speech
False allegations of being a Zionist organization

Campus Watch Responds:

In his latest attack on critics of Israeli higher education, David Newman demonstrates both his ignorance of Campus Watch's mission and his penchant for hyperbole. It's an old habit that he seems incapable of breaking.

In the pages of the Jerusalem Post, he utterly mischaracterizes CW:

The thought police of the extreme rightwing has grown in strength in recent years. It includes sites such as Campus Watch and Isracampus, well-funded organizations like Im Tirtzu and NGO Monitor, whose objectives are to prevent freedom of expression among all those who do not share their fortress view of the world. For them, anyone who believes in such values as peace, human rights or the universal values of Judaism are collectively labeled as traitors, anti-Zionists and enemies of the Jewish State. In scenes reminiscent of darker days, they send their representatives into universities to record lectures, which are then selectively edited, published on their web sites and used as ammunition to impose an extreme rightwing agenda on public discourse.

Where to begin? Campus Watch does not engage in critiques of Israeli universities, academic debates in that country, or Israeli professors. We critique professors in North America: period. At no time have we extended our mission to include foreign schools, including any in Israel. A cursory glance at our web site would reveal as much.

One also wonders how CW can be characterized as "thought police of the extreme rightwing." What police powers do we possess? (Hint: none whatsoever.) We critique professors (in North America) in an entirely open and rigorous manner. In claiming that we "police" anyone's thought, Newman follows the intellectually lazy path of equating criticism with censorship. We do not possess the will or the means to prevent anyone's "freedom of expression." Does Newman truly not notice the absurdity of making such a charge from his post as dean at an important university in the pages of a major daily?

As for CW being "extreme rightwing," this too is baseless. What is the extreme right in such a milieu? Fascist? Nazi? To state the implications of such a charge explicitly is to reveal its lack of historical grounding. Newman is simply engaging in ad hominem attacks in lieu of fact-based critiques.

Newman's thinking reaches its wooly-headed worst when he charges that CW attacks, "anyone who believes in such values as peace, human rights or the universal values of Judaism" by labeling them as "traitors, anti-Zionists and enemies of the Jewish State." I challenge David Newman to point out a single instance in which anyone writing for CW has made such outrageous charges. He will fail in his efforts to do so, because none exist. "Anyone" who believes in "peace" or "human rights"? Really? This is beyond jejune.

As to Newman's charge that CW records university lectures and then selectively edits the results "to impose an extreme rightwing agenda on public discourse," does Newman, the self-declared champion of free speech, object to public lectures being made available to a wider public? Does he wish for public lectures on university campuses to remain the purview of an elite group? Outsiders (the great unwashed) are unwelcome? Such sentiments won't bolster his credentials among small-d democrats.

Finally, regarding the accuracy of our reports, we stand behind them. We do not engage in selective editing; quite to the contrary, we go to great lengths to ensure that our reports are accurate and, therefore, informative.

(Posted by Winfield Myers)