Fake History and Sustainable Anti-Israel Bias In the Academies : Ruth King


You know the old saw “ignorance is bliss.” When it comes to the history of the Middle East I prefer the blissfully ignorant to the “scholars” who teach fake history parroting the biased fiction that passes for Middle East studies to gullible students.

Take the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) that feeds faculty to the departments of Middle East history in most American Universities.

“The Middle East Studies Association (MESA) is a private, non-profit learned society that brings together scholars, educators and those interested in the study of the region from all over the world.” This is their claim, which sounds innocent enough.

In fact, students will “learn” that Jews usurped ancient Arab lands, colonized them, instituted harsh repression and liquidated basic rights in their illegal occupation.  They will be taught that Arab wars and terrorism were a reaction to Jewish invasion of Arab lands.  They will unlearn, if they ever knew, anything about the Jews’ historic ties to Palestine, the Balfour Declaration or the deception that deeded 80% of Palestine to the Hashemites who had absolutely no historic ties to the area.

The current president of MESA, Beth Baron, a professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the Graduate Center of City University (CUNY), is an outspoken supporter of the morally lopsided Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.  She has published dozens of letters to the Israeli government condemning its actions and defending terrorists.  She refers to the Israel Defense Forces as the “Israeli Occupation Authorities.” In August 2017 CUNY gave her a thirty thousand dollar raise and named her a “Distinguished Scholar.” Imagine what she teaches her students.

Judith Tucker, a professor of History at Georgetown University, is the President-elect of MESA, and (no surprise) a leader in the BDS movement.  Back in 2014 she co-authored a resolution that defended scholarly associations’ right to endorse and participate in BDS.  In January of 2016, Tucker sponsored a resolution titled “Protecting the Right to Education in the Occupied Palestinian Territories” that was presented at the annual American Historical Association (AHA) convention.  While that fortunately failed to pass, at the convention Tucker chaired a “Roundtable on Violations of Academic Freedom in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

Lisa Hajjar, a professor of “Law and Society” at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is a member of the board of MESA whose term expires this month.  As the late and greatly lamented Professor Steven Plaut wrote in Frontpage in June 2005: “Lisa Hajjar has made an entire academic career out of bashing the United States and Israel for their supposed use of ‘torture’ against Arabs.  She spouts off these baseless accusations from her academic home at the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), where she teaches in its ‘Law and Society’ program.  In fact she has no credentials at all in law.  (She also teaches “Middle East Studies” at UCSB, with even fewer qualifications in that field.) Instead she holds a PhD in sociology from American University.  The one in Washington, not Cairo.“

At Columbia University, past president of MESA Rashid Khalidi is the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies.   He is fiercely anti-Israel and in his latest screed bemoaned: “Israel advocates will ‘infest’ the Trump administration and impose a new ‘vision’ of the Middle East disproportionately favoring the Israeli government…..  they have a vision whereby the occupied territories aren’t occupied, they have a vision whereby there is no such thing as the Palestinians, they have a vision whereby international law doesn’t exist, they have a vision whereby the United States can unilaterally cancel a decision in the United Nations.” His entire department of fake history shares his views.

When it comes to Islam, the MESA troops are also active in promoting fake history.  In “A Brief MESA Nostra Taxonomy” Hugh Fitzgerald wrote: “A near-monopoly has been established among academic centers by the army of apologists for Islam.  Then there are the largely, though not entirely, wacky or slightly off (in some cases) or simply career-minded play-it-very-safe Americans.  Some of these are recipients of Arab money, at various academic centers bought-and-paid for by the Saudis and others, holders of Saudi-funded chairs who are not about to bite the hand that not only feeds them, but also holds a dagger.  Others are people who simply want to get on with their work in medieval Islamic law, or the history of Islamic astronomy, but do not wish to cause themselves any unpleasantness as they seek tenure, or summer fellowships, or access to manuscripts.”

Dr.  Mitchell Bard, author of books and columns on the Middle East and Israel, summed it up succinctly: “Middle East Studies departments were, with few exceptions, long ago taken over by radical leftists, disciples of Edward Said’s anti-intellectual ‘Orientalism,’ haters of Israel, and apologists for terror and radical Islam.”

“There’s been a lot of lamenting about the political correctness that’s taken over MESA,” Tristan Mabry, a visiting assistant professor of government at Georgetown University told The Wall Street Journal.  “The A-No.1 issue that dominates MESA is always Israel, and even if you’re not interested in Israel [Mabry’s research focuses on Pakistan, India and Bangladesh], where you stand on Israel is always a litmus test.” Richard Bulliet, professor of Middle East history at Columbia, agreed: “You have a big chunk of the [Middle Eastern history] specialist community that starts every sentence with the word Palestine.” Martin Kramer, President of Shalem College, put it another way, “For MESAns, the Palestinians are the chosen people.”

What is still missing is a solid investigation of the funding that MESA receives from Arab nations.

I have grandchildren applying to college next year.  After perusing the fake history curricula of the prestigious academies in their radar, I would prefer that they major in leather tooling rather than be exposed to courses that should be titled “Advanced and Sustainable Anti-Semitism and Hatred of Israel.”


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Article by Ruth King

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Editor: Rael Jean Isaac
Editorial Board: Herbert Zweibon, Ruth King

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March 2018
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