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Cat among the pigeons

Reader comment on item: The War on Campus

Submitted by S.R.Judah (United Kingdom), Oct 2, 2002 at 17:35

It seems that Middle East Forum's new site www.campuswatch.org, has Middle East Studies professors all a twitter. Reactions to the site vary from name calling to accusations of a McCarthyite witch-hunt. It appears that these latter day scholars do not take kindly to criticism that questions their output.

A case in point is Prof. Edward Said's vitriolic attack on Israel in http://www.ahram.org.eg/weekly/2002/605/sup21.htm. Now I have no objection to balanced criticism of Israel per-se. But among other things, in a rambling and hysterical attack, Said mentions Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers as being a Jew. Now Said must know the implications of naming someone a Jew, in the context of an Arab readership. And as such, he must have known that by so doing, in the minds of his Arab readers anyway, he was furnishing a clinching argument. When a supposedly respected MES academic of international repute, stoops to such methods to bolster or prove his point, one has to question the value of any scholarly output from such a source.

But leaving that aside, what is unforgivable, is that in academic debate, one never introduces the ethnicity of one's debating opponent, as an arguement. It is a cardinal sin in academic scholarship, and to do so wilfully, demeans not just MES professors but university scholarship as a whole.

So congratulations are due to Daniel Pipes. The near hysterical responses to his new site indicate that his critique has struck home; it has become the proverbial cat among the pigeons of the MES ivory towers.
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