There is no university more supportive of the Arab nationalist (historically),
Islamist and anti-Israel line in the United States than Georgetown University,
specifically it’s programs on Middle East studies.
Every conference it
holds on the Middle East is ridiculously one-sided. The university has received
tens of millions of dollars from Arab states, and it houses the most important
center in the United States that has advocated support for a pro-Islamist
One day in 1975, not long before he died, the great professor
Carroll Quigley walked up to me when I was sitting in the GU
Everyone was in awe of this brilliant lecturer (remind me to
write him a tribute explaining why). I thought he might have remembered me from
my extended explanation of why I was late for class one day – I had rescued a
sparrow and taken it to a veterinarian (true, by the way). I couldn’t think of
another reason he would want to talk to such a lowly person.
“May I sit
down?” he asked.
“Of course!” I said, stopping myself from adding that it
was an honor.
Without any small talk, he launched into a subject that
clearly weighed on his conscience: “There are many who don’t like your
What was he talking about? Jews? He explained that he had just
come from a meeting where it had been made clear that the university had a
problem: It was getting Arab money, but on the secret condition that while it
was for teaching about the Middle East, none of it could be used to teach about
Israel. The purpose of the meeting had been how to solve this problem. The
solution? Simple: They would call the institution to be created the “Center for
Contemporary Arab Studies.” It was explicitly expressed that this was how the
problem would be dealt with.
Quigley expressed his disgust to
Ever since then, I have referred to that institution as the “Center
for Contemporary Arab Money.”
Georgetown University also accepted tens of
thousands of dollars from Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi – who was, of course,
very active in promoting anti-American terrorism – to establish an endowed chair
in Middle East studies. When the university president backed down due to bad
publicity, the professor who had been named to the post responded by calling the
Jesuit university president a “Jesuit Zionist.”
This same professor – and
I am not joking when I say that by today’s standards he was a fine scholar and
comparatively decent man – was a personal friend of Palestinian terrorist leader
Nayif Hawatmeh, and an outspoken Marxist.
To his credit, he told me in
1974 on a visit of mine to Lebanon, “One day we will be ashamed of all the
terrorism [against Israel].”
But I don’t think he ever spoke out
At my PhD oral exams, he said something like: “I don’t care
whether you believe it or not, but give the Marxist analysis of development in
the Middle East.” He did not ask me to critique it.
As a Marxist, even
though he was the son of a Muslim imam he did participate in the traditional
glass of scotch after they passed me. And they did pass me, something I doubt
would happen today. These professors really did believe in scholarship and
balance in the classroom.
ANOTHER PROFESSOR, however (I was sure he was
not on my board – I had had open arguments with him), was an example of the new
generation of indoctrinators. He had served in the Peace Corps and adopted two
Kurdish children in the shah era. This teacher’s radicalism and knee-jerk hatred
of Israel was so terrible that we used to joke about it. A right-wing Zionist in
the class conducted an experiment: He wrote an exaggerated Marxist anti-Israel
rant. It read like satire. He got an “A” from this professor. In retrospect,
however, we should have seen that this wasn’t an exception, but a sign of far
worse to come.
In one graduate seminar, yet another professor – an older
anti-Israel guy but still a conservative and a gentleman of the old school –
couldn’t stop the class from laughing as it discussed the ridiculous new book
Orientalism, by Edward Said. We easily pointed out the holes in the book and
Said’s claims of perpetual Western bias against Arabs. We viewed Orientalism
itself as outdated but respectable, too anthropological and generalizing for our
tastes. We saw ourselves as historians and social scientists.
idea that Orientalists were agents of imperialism was untrue. They were great
scholars, though some did do political work in which their views weren’t shaped
but often mistakenly implemented, just like such things happen today. Who would
have believed that this ignorant and malicious book could ever take over the
entire field and destroy scholarship? I guess we should have known, based on the
fate of the professor I had openly argued with. He was the new-style leftist
referred to above, the kind typical today. While I disliked him, he was clearly
not a racist but the very model of the new Politically Correct
Ironically, he was fired after being accused by an African
student of alleged racial bias because he gave the student a low grade. No
I didn’t feel this was a victory, however, but rather that he
had been mistreated. I faced similar situations. I will never forget how my job
interview at another university, the only time I ever applied for a teaching
position, was interrupted by one professor screaming at me, “How could you ever
possibly represent the narrative of the Palestinian people?” To which I
responded that obviously, I didn’t think I was supposed to represent it, merely
teach about it.
Note that the professor at that interview who would have
been willing to hire me was an Arab liberal. But he tried to hint to my naive
younger self why I didn’t have a chance. You should understand that at that
time, in the early 1980s, I had never written about the Arab-Israeli conflict.
And although this professor had me in his Arabic class, I don’t think he
remembered me, and I’m certain he knew nothing about me. No, I think the problem
was my last name.
ALL OF this reminiscing is prompted by a news story I
just read. An Arab professor at Georgetown, a place flush with Arab money, full
of apologists for anti-American Islamism, a place where no Israeli or pro-
Israel student dares to tread, has just launched a campaign claiming that he was
discriminated against and fired for anti- Israel bias! So this is the long-term
strategy: Take over a university or at least the relevant departments; spend 30
years or more in biased hiring practices and dishonest, propagandist
“scholarship”; and no matter how many insiders know the truth, keep claiming the
university is biased against the Left and defamers of America and
Those who don’t know better may believe it. The problem for this
Egyptian professor is that there was no organized campaign against him, and no
one outside the university even knew who he was. The fact is that his scholarly
work, while highly politicized, wasn’t very good. Obscure media appearances are
(as of yet) not sufficient to demonstrate academic excellence.
call this the “Juan Cole principle” after a radical professor whose
pronouncements on contemporary Middle East issues were frequent – even though he
was a specialist on religious disputes in the Middle Ages – and who missed out
on a good job because of his lack of scholarly work, then claimed
This tactic was sufficient in one notorious case at Columbia
University for a crackpot extremist to get a promotion, although it didn’t work
at Duke University.
At any rate, we now see that crying bias is the first
refuge of scoundrels. The real victims never get far enough along in the process
for them to build a case and can never muster support from a biased media,
either.The author is director of the Global Research in International
Affairs (GLORIA) Center (www.gloria-center.org). His forthcoming Book is Nazis,
Islamists, and the Making of the Modern Middle East (Yale University Press).
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