|At his press conference on July 14 defending the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreement [JCPOA] with Iran, US President Barack Obama made the obvious and indisputable point that “deals” in international affairs are made between adversaries, not allies. Implicit in what he said is that, despite their divergent interests, adversaries sign such deals to advance an interest they share – in the case of the JCPOA, a commitment to peace.
To prove his point, the president cited the arms control agreements between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.But any analogy between these agreements and the JCPOA cannot withstand even the most cursory examination.The agreements the United States signed with the Soviets during the Cold War – the two SALT Treaties in 1972 and 1979, the Vladivostok Accord in 1974 and the INF Treaty in 1987 – were bilateral. They involved two countries, not seven as does the JCPOA (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany plus Iran). As a result, the United States could respond in whatever way it wished in the event these agreements were violated, which they were. In the case of the JCPOA, because it is a multilateral agreement, responding unilaterally is more difficult politically, and less likely to have the intended effect.
No less important in assessing the president’s analogy is that the Soviet leaders during the Cold War were not like the mullahs in Iran today. They wanted to live. The mullahs, while perhaps not actively seeking to die, are aware of the advantages of doing so, which include gaining access to the 72 virgins the Koran and the Hadith promise Muslims upon arrival in Jannah, the Muslim equivalent of Heaven. In addition, nuclear war carries with it the likelihood of collective martyrdom, to which the Shi’ite Muslims of Iran in particular aspire. In light of this, the statement in 2001 by then Iranian president Rafsanjani that destroying Israel would be worth the lives of millions of Iranians in any Israeli nuclear counter-attack is readily comprehensible.
Whatever their monstrous crimes, the Soviets had no such eschatological vision animating their actual policies. While Soviet generals such as Marshal A. M. Sokolovskii, chief of the general staff of the Soviet armed forces during World War II and defense minister in the late 1940s, seriously contemplated nuclear war with the United States, they did so not because they wished to die in fulfillment of an ideological imperative, but because they believed the Soviet Union could fight and win such a war: the Soviet population was still predominantly rural, and thus sufficiently dispersed to survive even multiple nuclear strikes by the United States. Similarly, several in the civilian leadership prior to Khrushchev, notably Beria, Malenkov (until 1954) and Stalin himself thought that somehow only capitalist countries could be destroyed by nuclear weapons. However ridiculous, this caused them to believe that in a nuclear war the Soviet Union would not only survive but emerge victorious.
This is very different from seeking nuclear war so that millions will die.
It is essential to remember that the eschatological vision the Iranians embrace does not allow for the peaceful coexistence Soviet leaders from Khrushchev onward declared to be their policy toward the United States and the West. To be sure, “peaceful coexistence” was not always peaceful. While precluding direct military confrontation between the superpowers, it allowed their proxies, such as Israel and its Arab enemies, to fight one another periodically. Nor was it meant to be permanent, or to signify a change in how the Soviets viewed the course of history.
Capitalist countries, including the United States, were destined to collapse.
But for the Iranians, peaceful coexistence, even with the limits the Soviets placed on it, is a theological impossibility.
While the mullahs may be capable of using nuclear weapons the way the Soviets used them during the Cold War, namely for the political benefits that accrued from threatening non-nuclear countries with total destruction, their apocalyptic theology would seem to require them, at some point, to attack their enemies with nuclear weapons. The fact that Israel possesses nuclear weapons, and that Sunni Muslim regimes, in their fear of Iran, will soon acquire them, may actually make the Iranians more likely, rather than less likely, to do this.
In short, the paradoxical logic of nuclear deterrence – the concept of MAD, or Mutually Assured Destruction – that kept the nuclear peace for the duration of the Cold War is sadly inapplicable to the Middle East today and for the foreseeable future.
In seeking public support for the JCPOA, President Obama would do well not to invoke misleading historical analogies that demonstrate his ignorance of history. The agreement with Iran must be considered on its own terms, both as a means of serving American interests and of protecting the American people, and for its likely effects on America’s allies and America’s enemies in the Middle East and elsewhere.
At the same time, one can fairly wonder why an American president so deficient in his knowledge and understanding of history should be given the benefit of the doubt in his predictions of the future.
The author is a professor of history at Central Connecticut State University and the author of Meeting the Demands of Reason: The Life and Thought of Andrei Sakharov (Cornell University Press, 2009).
(Published in The Jerusalem Post on July 30, 2015)
[Published at Campus Watch on July 6, 2015]
How utterly appropriate: Steven Salaita will be the Edward W. Said Chair of American Studies at the American University of Beirut (AUB) for the 2015/16 academic year. A supposed expert on Native Americans whose anti-Semitic attacks on Israel cost him a job at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne, Salaita will assume a chair named for the late Columbia University English professor whose 1978 book Orientalismcontributed more than any other work to the systemic intellectual decadence that still characterizes Middle East studies.
Salaita is Said’s equal when it comes to producing polemical revisionist history that relies more upon postcolonial victimization studies than upon rigorous research. Although Illinois expected him to teach American Indian studies and he’ll teach American studies at AUB, all six of his books deal with modern Arab studies, Arab Americans, or Israel. In the through-the-looking-glass historiography of Salaita and his academic allies, these disparate fields are connected by a typology of the victim that is easily transferred from antiquity to the present, so that Canaanites are Native Americans and ancient Hebrews are modern Zionists. It’s a handy way of attacking the entire history of a people or civilization without having to bother with facts, research, doubt, unanswerable questions, or the human agent at the heart of all genuine historical research.
In 1980 Malcolm Kerr, the distinguished Middle East studies scholar who served as AUB president, wrote a gentlemanly but devastating critique of Orientalism in which he mentions almost forty excellent scholars whose work Said ignored because noting their contributions would undermine his thesis that Western scholarship on the Middle East was uniformly reductionist and racist. Four years after writing his review, Kerr was assassinated near his AUB office by members of Islamic Jihad. If he could know that a chair named for Said now exists at AUB—and that next occupant will be a man as dedicated to politicized, vindictive scholarship as its namesake—he would be spinning in his grave.
[Published at FrontPage Magazine, July 23, 2015)
Less than one week after the slaughter in Chattanooga, Tennessee of four U.S. Marines and one sailor by Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, a Kuwaiti-born Islamist who grew up in suburban Chattanooga, a pattern has emerged in Middle East studies scholars' analyses of the shooting: obfuscation of any Islamist or jihadi motives accompanied by efforts to depict Abdulazeez as one among many troubled killers whose recent actions have shocked the country. No specialized knowledge of the Middle East is required for such politicized and misleading analyses, and none is evident in the examples that follow.
The title of University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole's article at truthdig reveals his desperation to deny any religious motivation: "Four Marines Dead: Semi-automatic Assault Weapons Are a Security Problem for the U.S." Cole lumps the latest chapter of jihad in America with non-sectarian mass murders committed by psychopaths:
The mass murder of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., or the theater massacre in Aurora, Colo., both in 2012, were insufficient to spark a serious national legislative debate about this threat. Now that four Marines are dead at the hands of a civilian armed with such a weapon, can we discuss again a ban on those weapons, of the sort enacted in the Clinton administration?
Cole never considers Islamist beliefs, the possible influence of ISIS or others, radicalization via the Internet, or overseas meetings with pro-jihadi individuals or groups as possible motivations for Abdulazeez's actions. His effort to label the deliberate targeting of U.S. military personnel as a symptom of insufficient gun control is simply willful blindness masquerading as scholarly commentary.
Omid Safi, director of Islamic studies at Duke, took to his Facebook page to claim a moral equivalence between the accidental killing of civilians by U.S. drones and premeditated mass murder—again, with no mention of jihad or Islamism:
I see people suffering in ?#?Chattanoogashooting, victim of another crazy act of suffering, yes by a Muslim . . . a pot-smoking, drunk-driving/arrested Muslim. My heart and prayers go out to the families of the victims, who loved their babies as much as anyone, including the victims of American drones.
Because in Safi's hyper-politicized mind, long used to cloaking Islamist sentiments in the florid language of sentimentalism, the events he cites are the same. As for the killer's pot smoking and drinking, offered as evidence that he wasn't a true Muslim, the 9/11 hijackers sought out strip dancers in Las Vegas bars the summer before their heinous acts. Lascivious living and terrorism, it seems, go hand in hand.
My heart is heavy because immediately the shooter was labeled a domestic terrorist, while Dylann Roof killed 9 people in a historic black church, and MSM media (and a bunch of politicians) resisted using the T-word. . . . My heart is heavy because another day, another black person dies in police custody.
Would Safi have had a lighter heart had Roof been labeled a "domestic terrorist," like Timothy McVeigh? How about a more accurate label still: Islamist terrorist, which denotes the affiliation that, for many federal agents, bureaucrats, and the president himself, dare not speak its name.
In an interview with PRI, Safi misapplied Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel's famous quip that, "Few are guilty, but all are responsible" to the Chattanooga shooting in order to spread the blame:
I take that same approach when it comes to the Charleston shooting or police brutality. We want to hold the individuals who are responsible for these horrific acts accountable, and then to step back and ask the question about how all of us [are]… responsible?
Just hours after an American Muslim gunned down four US Marines in Chattanooga, Tennessee on Thursday, Reza Aslan had harsh words for anyone describing it as a terrorist attack. “Terrorism,” he said, is “an absolute bulls#@t and meaningless term.”
According to the reporter, Aslan stayed on theme by conflating international jihad with far-right militias in the U.S.—a convenient strategy to avoid any analysis of the unique dangers jihadis like Abdulazeez pose to the West:
Perhaps most striking take-away of the evening was Aslan’s casting of violent Muslim jihadism in the same mold as what the West now experiences as libertarian militia and sovereign citizen movements, commonly associated with anti-government white supremacist ideology.
We’re now at a point in the history of Middle East studies wherein “scholars” of the region deny the obvious, ignore the infamous, and offer apologias in their never-ending effort to protect Islamists from the consequences of their actions while blaming the West for all the world’s ills. Just when the West most needs insightful policy advice guided by expertise, it receives instead propaganda in the guise of scholarship to support its enemies. Seldom has any academic discipline so failed its duty.
He came with conceptions, but he made a voyage of discovery. And so he caught truths, deeper and more durable truths about himself and about us all. (The Traveler’s Luck)
So wrote Fouad Ajami, who died one year ago today, about Joseph Conrad, whose talents for capturing the clash between East and West he judged superior to V.S. Naipaul’s. He might have been writing about his own gift for interpreting the Middle East from his adopted American home. The truths he caught were gained (like Conrad’s) through an immigrant’s eyes—eyes trained not just on his adopted country, but on the land of his birth.
Ajami wrote that Naipaul, for all his “extraordinary talent,” lacked access to the “inner precincts of that universe” of Islamic civilization found in the “tiled courtyards and the private chambers that are meant to keep others out and to keep secrets in.” It is Ajami’s willingness to disclose those secrets and to subject them to ruthlessly honest critiques that gives his work a timelessness and importance attained by few writers of any genre. For expressing these truths, he earned the respect and even love of readers and colleagues who form a counterculture within a Middle East studies establishment dominated by intellectual homogeneity enforced by ethnic, religious, and political litmus tests.
On the surface, Ajami qualified as a member of the fraternal order of the professionally aggrieved: a Shiite Arab of Persian ancestry who hailed from Lebanon, he could have ridden a successful career on the same anti-American, anti-Israel, and anti-Western platitudes that so many lesser lights have used to ascend to positions of influence and renown. But he came to accept Israel’s existence as an historical fact and to better understand Arab history because of it, even as he wrote unflinchingly about those secrets hidden from the foreigner, and for his intellectual honesty became a pariah to scholars Michael Dorancalls “faceless drones taking refuge in smug solidarity.” Never was their smugness more viscerally displayed than in the weeks and months following his death.
Perhaps the most intellectually and morally vulgar of these by a professor of Middle East studies was by As’ad AbuKhalil of Cal State Stanislaus. Claiming that Ajami was an “Arab Zionist” who was “never really known among Arabs” as was Bernard Lewis, and that his Middle East studies colleagues “never held him in high esteem,” Ajami “gave a respectable cast to the racist discourse about Arabs and shared ‘inside views’ about their culture.” He had “deep contempt and hatred for his people and the culture in which he was born,” and “left a harmful legacy for Arabs.” Revealing the bitterness of one for whom the falsehoods that bind the strains of ethnic solidarity trump truth and a sense of shame, he wrote:
Ajami is like the one Jewish person who gets invited to anti-Semitic conferences to attest the views about Jews held by anti-Semites.
Richard Falk, far more prominent than AbuKhalil, after recalling their once-warm friendship and his role in bringing Ajami to Princeton in 1973, wonderedin the weeks after Ajami’s death whether he failed to detect “character flaws” that emerged later in life, and concluded his remembrance-as-hit-piece on this damning note:
For me Fouad Ajami’s legacy is that of “sleeping with the enemy.” And it is an enemy that is politically, morally, and legally responsible for millions of deaths, displacements, and devastating losses. In a just world such a responsibility would lead to criminal accountability, but such a prospect is for now situated in what Derrida called the “democracy to come,” a polity in which there would be no impunity for crimes against humanity.
Non-academics joined the attack, with the infamous New York Times obituary reflecting acceptable elite opinion when it quoted Ajami’s nemesis Edward Said’s quip that he had “unmistakably racist prescriptions.” Worse, it relied heavily upon Adam Shatz’s vitriolic 2003 profile of Ajami in The Nation, “The Native Informant.” For Shatz in 2003, as for Ajami’s academic detractors, he was “entirely a creature of the American establishment,” a man “almost entirely deserted by his people.”
These calumnies continued in post-mortem attacks by non-academics: Ajami’s “view of the Arab world was narrow, lacking an understanding of its societies and myriad cultures; the flourishing of arts and culture, science and literature in the region had no interest for him”; he “changed his political colors as per convenience”; and he “succeeded because he pandered to the pro-Israel, anti-Arab causes with his conservative criticism that always seemed to blame the Arabs for everything that went wrong in the Middle East, ignoring the fundamental corruption of Middle East politics which was set in place by self-serving Western government policies.”
Such vitriol reveals the moral bankruptcy and intellectual parochialism of contemporary Middle East studies both on campus and beyond, where it infects journalists, policy experts, and opinion makers around the world. If such a milieu is hostile to detractors in general, it is utterly unforgiving to the “native informant” whose ethnicity and religion should, by the iron rules of academic opinion, determine every aspect of his thought and action. For his unblinking depiction of Arab culture and society, his embrace of America, and his acceptance of Israel, Ajami was declared a traitor to his people. In their condemnation of his writings and his virtues, however, his detractors condemn only themselves.
(Via Campus Watch, May 21, 2015)
On July 22, 2011, the Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik killed seventy-seven people in and near Oslo. Not long before he attacked, he emailed a 1,500-page document titled “2083: A European Declaration of Independence,” which included conservative critics of radical Islam among his sources. Immediately, some in the media, academic, and think tank worlds declared these persons guilty by association and charged them with shaping Breivik’s thought, even though the manifesto cited about the same number of liberals and conservatives.
Yesterday we were given a look inside the mind of another mass killer when the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released Bin Ladin’s Bookshelf, a “sizable tranche of documents recovered during the raid on the compound used to hide Usama bin Ladin.” The 409 items range from publicly available U.S. government documents to personal letters from bin Laden to family and fellow terrorists.
They also include a fawning January 2005 Washingtonian magazine profile of Georgetown University Wahhabi apologist John Esposito (he doubts bin Laden read it), who has made a lucrative career of blaming the West for the Middle East’s troubles. Two volumes by the radical anti-American, anti-Israel MIT linguist Noam Chomsky make the list: Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies, and Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance, which argues that America’s natural trajectory is world domination by force.
Seasoned America-hater William Blum also scored with two volumes: Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, and Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II. Upon learning in 2006 that bin Laden had mentioned him in an audio tape, Blum said, “If he shares with me a deep dislike for certain aspects of U.S. foreign policy, then I’m not going to spurn any endorsement of the book by him. I think it’s good that he shares those views.”
Whereas the pundits and journalists who heaped scorn on the anti-Islamist writers Breivik cited could do so only by willfully distorting their views and equating reasoned criticism with hate-mongering and bigotry, the radical authors whose books lined bin Laden’s shelves lent genuine support to his views, if not his actions. They shared with him an incorrigible antipathy towards America and the West even as their elite reputations lent a veneer of legitimacy to their hate-filled rhetoric. That the man behind the deaths of so many innocents could turn to them for intellectual support should permanently discredit their ideas and their work.
Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s claim that President Obama does not love America, while perhaps unartfully phrased, is defensible. Surely the president’s intention, stated publicly when he was running for president, “to fundamentally transform America” suggests a strong aversion to America as it now exists. Moreover, he has condemned the American people for “clinging to their guns and their religion,” and by citing “their antipathy to people who aren’t like them,” slyly insinuated that they are collectively racist. When asked if he believed in American Exceptionalism, he replied that he believed in it the way Greeks believe in Greek Exceptionalism and the British in British Exceptionalism. His wife Michelle famously opined that American was “a downright mean country” and that until her husband ran for president, she had no reason to be proud of it.
Still, President Obama has his defenders, and in a country that is more or less evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, this is to be expected. Indeed, the whole issue of the president’s true feelings about America is one on which reasonable people may disagree.
But that was not the case among the faculty at Central Connecticut State University after Mayor Giuliani delivered his broadside. On the campus email list-serve, one professor vowed that she would refuse to attend any lecture the mayor might give here. Another, recently retired, pronounced him a racist. Yet another, while conceding that the mayor was not a racist, argued that his derogation of the president nevertheless harmed the generic struggle against racism – which seems to imply that President Obama should not be criticized for anything and that anyone who does so is morally deficient.
As it happens, Mayor Giuliani spoke at CCSU two years ago under the auspices of the Vance Foundation, which over the years has brought to campus speakers on both sides of the political spectrum, such as George McGovern and Jimmy Carter on the left and George H. W. Bush and Jeane Kirkpatrick on the right. Could Giuliani’s statement about Obama cause the Foundation to bring him here again? Judging from the comments above, it seems safe to predict that should it do so, the response from faculty would be volcanic. Some have even suggested that in the future the Vance Foundation should either sponsor speakers the faculty agrees with or should be barred from using the university as the venue for the lectures it pays for. In November 2013 a committee selected by the Faculty Senate sent the foundation a list of seven nominees to speak at CCSU in 2014. One was Melissa Harris-Perry, who, in a recent interview on MSNBC with Attorney General Eric Holder, asked him to quack like a duck. Another, Alice Walker, has compared Israel to Nazi Germany. Maya Angelou, also on the list, has praised the barbaric and oppressive regime of the Castro brothers in Cuba. Three of the remaining four were similarly situated on the far left of the political spectrum. The last, Valerie Strauss, opposes school vouchers benefitting students from poor families while sending her children to expensive private schools.
College faculties across America are overwhelmingly liberal, and their political contributions show this vividly. In 2012 96% of donations from Ivy League faculty went to President Obama, the remaining 4% to Governor Romney. This imbalance is most apparent in humanities departments, where the temptation to indoctrinate students politically is especially pronounced; when President Bush was in office, students of mine regularly complained about professors denouncing him instead of teaching what they were contractually obligated to teach.
The CCSU administration and faculty loudly proclaim their devotion to “diversity.” But their commitment is more rhetorical than real. What they really seek is the opposite: a faculty and student body that are racially and ethnically heterogeneous but that politically think the same things. I hope that the good people of Connecticut, who through their taxes largely subsidize higher education in the state, make clear to their elected representatives that instead of indoctrinating students, our universities should educate them, which means, in part, practicing genuine intellectual diversity. At CCSU a good start towards this objective would be allowing the Vance Foundation to sponsor speakers with whom the faculty will occasionally disagree.
Jay Bergman is Professor of History at Central Connecticut State University and serves on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Scholars, an association of academics and others committed to reasoned discourse and disinterested scholarship in American higher education.
The article above appeared as an op-ed in newspapers in Bristol, Manchester, Middletown, New Haven, Torrington, Waterbury, and West Hartford, Connecticut at the end of February and the beginning of March 2015.
Readers of the Justice should consider the following facts relevant to the issue of police “racism” and to the controversy involving Khadijah Lynch and Daniel Mael:
*The forensic evidence in the Ferguson matter showed incontrovertibly — and was corroborated by witnesses, several of them black — that Brown’s hands were down, not up, and that he was charging Officer Wilson when he was shot.
*Eric Garner’s daughter ascribed her father’s death to “pride,” not racism, and the officers who restrained Garner when he was resisting arrest were supervised by a black police sergeant who did not consider “racism” a factor in his death.
*It has been estimated that police nationally have approximately forty million contacts with people every year. (1)
*From 1976 to 2011 there were annually, on average, 7, 982 black homicide victims nationally. Over the same time period, police killed annually, on average, 227 blacks, many of them armed and dangerous, The latter figure is less than 3% of the former. (2)
*Almost all black murder victims are killed by other blacks. In 2012, for example, 2,648 blacks were murdered nationally; 2,412 were killed by other blacks. The latter figure is more than 95% of the former. (3)
The claim that police are conducting a war against blacks is preposterous and has no basis in realty.
Moreover, Khadijah Lynch’s statements that she has no sympathy for the two murdered NYC policemen — indeed that she is “laughing her ass off” because of it; that America is a “fucking racist society” and could benefit from an intifada; and that she needs to get her gun license are vulgar, infantile, imbecilic, vicious, and callous to an extreme.
She and her enablers among the students — who clearly have learned nothing at Brandeis about the necessity of tolerating views they disagree with — are a disgrace to my alma mater.
Daniel Mael — who has received death threats for simply exercising his constitutional right to free expression — should be applauded, not condemned, for having the courage to post her despicable statements.
In the words of Justice Louis Brandeis, “sunlight is the best disinfectant.”
B.A. Brandeis, Class of 1970
Professor of History
Central Connecticut State University
New Britain CT
Office of the President
Dear President Lawrence:
I have read Sohrab Ahmari’s article in the Wall Street Journal on recent controversies at Brandeis concerning Daniel Mael.
I have also read your “rebuttal.” It is, to put it charitably, unpersuasive. You claim that “[d]uring my tenure, no student has been sanctioned for exercising their free-speech rights, regardless of the topic or perspective.”
But according to Ahmari’s article, “officials” at Brandeis told Mr. Mael “not to use social media, including by publishing articles and circulating petitions.” Since you don’t deny they did this, one can only infer that they did — which means that contrary to what you wrote, Mr. Mael’s right of free expression WAS violated during your tenure as president of Brandeis.
In addition, you imply strongly in your “rebuttal” that because students, not faculty, control the process under which complaints like that of Eli Philip against Mr. Mael are adjudicated, you bear no responsibility for any violations of individual’s rights that may occur — such as Mr. Mael’s right to be provided reasonably quickly with the content of Mr. Philip’s charges against him. In fact, according to Ahmari’s article, Mr. Philp’s charges were lodged in December 2013, but Mr. Mael was not informed of them until October 2014, ten months later.
As a lawyer, you are surely aware of the rights defendants possess in legal proceedings against them. And as a lawyer you cannot possibly believe that the rights defendants possess in legal proceedings should not exist in judicial matters involving Brandeis students.
And yet you did nothing to rectify the clear violation of Mr. Mael’s right to know the charges against him in a timely fashion.
This is just further proof — following your revocation of the honorary degree previously promised to Ayaan Hirsi Ali — that in circumstances requiring courage, or at the very least, a modicum of simple decency, you act in ways that can only be considered evidence of cowardice.
Once again you have disgraced my alma mater. If you possess a shred of decency, you will resign.
B. A. Class of 1970
Professor of History
Central Connecticut State University
New Britain CT 06050
Email to Columbia Law School on its Allowing Students Traumatized by Non-Indictments to Postpone Final Examinations
Columbia Law School
New York, New York
Dear Dean Scott:
Your law school’s policy of allowing students traumatized by the recent decisions of grand juries in Missouri and New York to postpone their final examinations would be laughable if it wasn’t so indicative of the moral bankruptcy of American high education today, with its reverse racial discrimination (euphemistically referred to as affirmative action), mindless anti-Israel movements (e.g. BDS), and pervasive presumption that white males as a collective entity are racist and sexist and homophobic (an example of which is the recent fraud perpetrated by a supposed rape victim at the University of Virginia).
Students at your law school who avail themselves of your idiotic dispensation are clearly not mature enough to enroll in law school, much less to serve as attorneys.
I urge you in the strongest possible terms to revoke this dispensation and thereby show your law school to be something more advanced than a kindergarten for coddled, immature adolescents.
Professor of History
Central Connecticut State University
New Britain CT 06050
Asked recently if Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS) receives federal Title VI funds, director Osama Abi-Mershed answered, “we are not tax supported.”
His dean, James Reardon-Anderson, begs to differ.
Following the revelation that the directors of six federally-funded Middle East studies centers signed a letter pledging ”not to collaborate on projects and events involving Israeli academic institutions” in spite of “assurances” each gave to “maintain linkages with overseas institutions of higher education,” Foreign Policy Research Institute president Alan Luxenberg emailed each director and asked if their pledges were personal or apply to the centers they lead.
In response to an inquiry, Reardon-Anderson, acting dean of the Walsh School of Foreign Service, of which CCAS is a part, replied without commenting on Abi-Mershed’s claim that:
Yes, we are very proud that the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies has been, and we hope will remain, a recipient of Title VI designation and support.
Reardon-Anderson stated that, “Of course, as an institution of higher learning, we respect the right of each member of our faculty, students or staff to exercise his or her freedom of speech.” He also noted Georgetown president John DeGioia’s official statement last December after the American Studies Association vote to boycott Israeli academic institutions, which he said “undermines the academic freedom that is essential to the mission of the Academy.” Still, DeGioia affirmed, “While the position of our University remains opposed to any boycott, we will certainly defend the rights of those who disagree.”
But will he defend the “rights” of those who, like Abi-Mershed, try to hide their federal support when faced with possible violations of federal policies? Does freedom of speech extend to freedom to one’s own facts?
Reardon-Anderson’s confirmation that CCAS receives taxpayer dollars exposes Abi-Mershed’s dodgy answer, but information confirming the center’s Title VI support is easily found on many Georgetown web pages.
Since 1997, CCAS has served as the core of Georgetown University’s National Resource Center on the Middle East, funded by a Title VI grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
The Center’s Newsletter stated in 2010 that:
CCAS is pleased announce that the National Resource Center on the Middle East (NRC) at Georgetown, of which CCAS is an integral part, has received $2 million in funding for the next four years from the U.S. Department of Education’s Title VI program.
CCAS’s K-14 Outreach page states:
The program is supported by the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, private sector grants, and the U.S. Department of Education.
And CCAS’s 2013-2014 Student Handbook for the M.A. in Arab studies states “major components” of CCAS include “a Title VI grant from the Department of Education.”
Abi-Mershed’s claim that CCAS is “not tax supported” is clearly false. Why should taxpayers trust him to use their dollars wisely and in accord with federal policies?
The following appeared originally at Campus Watch, which I direct.
Will the taxpayer-supported Middle East studies centers at five American universities join a boycott of Israeli academic institutions? Or were their directors, who signed a recent letter pledging “not to collaborate on projects and events involving Israeli academic institutions,” engaged in personal protests that won’t affect their schools’ official relations with Israeli universities, as Middle East scholar Martin Kramer asks of the director of Columbia’s Middle East Institute?
The letter, “Middle East Scholars and Librarians Call for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions,” was published at Jadaliyya on August 6, 2014 “in the name of the below signatories,” which an update on the site says totals 550. University of Toronto professor of Arab civilization Jens Hanssen is listed as the media contact.
As heads of U.S. Department of Education Title VI National Resource Centers, the directors are administrators of bodies required by the Higher Education Opportunity Act to give “assurances” that they will “maintain linkages with overseas institutions of higher education and other organizations that may contribute to the teaching and research of the Center.”
If their pledges aren’t simply personal but apply to the centers they lead, they stand in conflict with the assurances they gave in exchange for federal funds.
The six directors (Georgetown boasts two) and their respective centers are:
- Lila Abu-Lughod, Middle East Institute, Columbia.
- mirian cooke (no relation to e.e. cummings), Middle East Studies Center, Duke.
- Osama Abi-Mershed, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown.
- John Esposito, Prince Alwaleed bin-Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown.
- Helga Tawil-Souri, Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies, New York University.
- Gabriel Piterberg, Center for Near Eastern Studies, University of California, Los Angeles.
American taxpayers deserve to know the intentions of these six directors: Are their public pledges against Israel merely personal, so that the centers they lead may cooperate with Israeli academic institutions and scholars? Or are they declaring the intention of their centers to engage in an official boycott of Israeli academic institutions despite federal policy?