Events around date of publication of this item.
Who's Watching the Watchers?
: Who's Watching the Watchers?By
: Joel Beinin Date of issue
30 September 2002Topic(s) addressed
: Commentary Abstract
Another effort to police dissent is focused on those who teach Middle East studies on college campuses. Middle East Forum, a think tank run by Daniel Pipes and supportive of the Israeli right wing, has established a Campus Watch website. After failing in his own pursuit of an academic career, Pipes has evidently decided to take revenge on the scholarly community that rejected him.
Campus Watch notes that "Middle East studies in the United States has become the preserve of Middle Eastern Arabs, who have brought their views with them. Membership in the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), the main scholarly association, is now 50 percent of Middle Eastern origin." Some Americans have foolishly believed that all U.S. citizens have equal rights regardless of their country of origin and that pointing to peoples' country of origin to discredit them is a form of racism. This too, is outmoded thinking according to Campus Watch. But imagine the uproar that would be created by the suggestion that because Daniel Pipes is Jewish he may be more loyal to Israel than to the United States.
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), the most influential pro-Israel think tank in Washington, is linked to both the Iraq war hawks and the attack on Middle East studies. Richard Perle is a member of WINEP's Board of Advisors as was Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, a leading advocate for a war on Iraq, before he joined the Bush administration. Daniel Pipes is a WINEP adjunct scholar. Last year WINEP published a lengthy screed by Martin Kramer, former director of the Dayan Center for Middle East Studies at Tel Aviv University, trashing the entire field of Middle East studies: Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle East Studies in America. Campus Watch appears to be inspired by this book. Kramer edits the Middle East Forum's journal, Middle East Quarterly and is a WINEP visiting fellow. Although he is not directly involved in Campus Watch, he has issued a statement supporting its aims.