Wednesday, March 02, 2005


Columbia Truly Unbecoming

In an overall production that would make Orwell spit up in his grave, the combined efforts of the Columbia University chapter of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and Columbians for Academic Freedom will host a conference on the Middle East and Academic Integrity on the American Campus. It includes such "highlights" as Natan Sharansky, Martin Kramer, Alan Dershowitz, a showing of the film "Columbia Unbecoming", Edward S. Beck (president of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East), Rachel Fish (of the David Project, the group behind "Columbia Unbecoming"), Charles Jacobs (founder of the David Project), Efraim Karsh, Morton Klein (President of the ZOA), Martin Peretz (Editor-in-Cheif of the New Republic), and Susan Tuchman (director of the ZOA's Center for Law and Justice) and a few others.

What a "balanced" panel. But where is Daniel Pipes? Is he not available that day? Or David Horowitz? Too busy?

On another note, is anybody else aware that there are places in the Middle East other than Israel?

"is anybody else aware that there are places in the Middle East other than Israel?"

That's the point of the conference. Ask the Middle East Studies professors and the UN and the NGOs to stop spending 90% of their time browbeating Israel. As anti-slavery activist Charles Jacobs says:

"The issue extends beyond Columbia professors' denouncing Israel's right to exist. The hyper-focus on Israel-Palestine obscures any academically credible understanding of the region by discounting the plight of ethnic, religious and racial minorities in the Arab world.

Professors hostile to Israel obstruct the study of - and Americans' natural instinct to help - the Arab region's victims and second-class peoples: the black slaves of Mauritania, the Iranian Bahai, African Muslims now slaughtered in Darfur, Christians in Iraq, Sudan, Egypt and Lebanon, not to mention women, gays and dissidents. Columbia's Palestinianism is, apart from a being a bias against the Jewish state, a weapon of mass distraction."
Dear Judith,
If only that were the point of the conference. If only it were a conference that brought together experts on Mauritania, Bahai, Sudan, Copts, scholars on issues of gender and sexuality in the Middle East.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. The guests are proponents of Israel who stand in opposition to any criticism of it and any insistence on Palestinian rights.
To suggest that somehow this collection of characters is insisting on broadening discussion and not stifling it is a canard.
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