I just plain don’t feel much like writing a full-blown post today. But I’ve been reading some terrific material at other blogs and would like to point you to some important reading.
First, Muzzlewatch reports on the odd development at George Washington University of an Israeli visiting instructor quitting in a huff when her students (some Jewish) accused her of being a pro-Israel partisan instead of a dispassionate academic. It seems that the University has accepted funding for several positions (including this one) from a foundation run by notorious pro-Israel ideologue and former AIPAC staffer, Mitchell Bard.
Jerry Haber does some terrific sleuthing to discover that Hannah Diskin, the instructor in question, is not affiliated with the Hebrew University as the original Washington Jewish Week story contends. Rather, she is affiliated with the West Bank’s Ariel College, an unaccredited Israeli institution.
I would like to know who are the sugar daddies funding Bard’s academic positions. Could it be that they might be AIPAC megadonors, which would mean that AIPAC is surreptitiously (and indirectly of course) attempting to slant the teaching of Israel and Zionism in the college classroom. Perhaps a view of the Foundation’s IRS 990 form might tell us something on that score (I haven’t done this yet).
Sol Salbe links to another terrific piece of investigative journalism by Daphna Berman (who broke the Other Israel Film Festival story recently) in Haaretz. She investigates a juicy scandal simmering at the Shalem Center, home of American-Jewish neocon demi-god and Wall Street Journal darling, Michael Oren. After reading this, it seems to me that Shalem is nothing more than a warmed over version of the Hudson Institute. The most riveting fact (besides the inter-office sex and director’s directives about the precise angle at which to staple reports) in this expose is the worship by the three Shalem founders of Meir Kahane during their college days at Princeton. How can such an institution command any respect with this intellectual/political pedigree?
I just read Jerry Haber’s recap of this article and he has one hilarious comment on the hot sex at Shalem:
Of course, there is the usual nepotism associated with family businesses. Yoram’s brother, David, worked there for twelve years in an executive position…until he was forced to leave because of an affair he conducted with one of his subordinates. (At the time he was working on a book on the Ten Commandments – or maybe, for him, the Nine)
This sort of thing isn’t happening in a vacuum. Saudi gifts to American institutions are quite large. King ‘sugar daddy’ Fahd donated US $20 million to establish the Middle East Studies Center at the University of Arkansas. Two Saudi financiers of Al Qaeda gave US $5 million to UC Berkeley’s Center For Middle East Studies. Then, Harvard got US $2.5 million; Georgetown US $8.1 million, including a $500,000 scholarship in the name of President Bush; Cornell US $11 million; MIT US $5 million; Texas A&M US $1.5 million and Princeton US $1 million. Rutgers received US $5 million to endow a chair, as did Columbia. Several other universities also received Saudi largesse.
Richard Silverstein says
There is a big difference between AICE positions & those funded by Saudi Arabia. I challenge you to find among all the positions funded by the Saudis such patently unqualified, purely partisan teachers appointed to fill them. Hannah Diskin was clearly unqualified to teach the course she was teaching. Her flight fr. the first hint of criticism instead of standing up & defending herself is but one sign that this is the case.
There is nothing wrong with philanthropy used to increase understanding of religions in academia. There IS something wrong with funding positions not properly vetted either by the funder or by the school which hosts the positions. There is something wrong with teaching with a partisan agenda.
While I don’t disagree with you about Diskin (what a foolish lady), I think you may be a naive about the Saudis and the way influence works in Academia. My point is that AICE may be acting badly, but their behavior may be in response to other forces that you leave out of the story.
So, I just discovered this Richard Silverstein, another so-called Jew who hates Israel. In Germany there were many like who thought that they were more German than the Germans, and hated being Jewish, till Hitler gave them a rude awakening.
To me, a proud Israeli, the son of an Auschwitz survivor, you are worse than Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Long Live Israel
Richard Silverstein says
I just wrote a more detailed post about further research on AICE which you should read.
I have no problem with people scrutinizing the funding of all manner of academic programs looking for bias. If the Saudis interfered with academic programs with an ideological axe to grind then by all means bring it into the open. But to criticize UC Berkeley for appointing an Israeli academic to a position merely because he writes critically of Israeli policy (see that post I mentioned) or to appoint a clearly unqualified person like Diskin to an academic post at a major university makes a laughingstock of legitimate Israel studies programs and faculty.
On the Shalem Center: fascinating Haaretz article (although it leaves out the fact that William Kristol in on the board of directors). That closing sentence sends chills down your spine.
BTW, the article mentions Shalem’s role in a recent conference in Prague attended by Bush. Here is more on that, from long-time neocon tracker Jim Lobe–
Richard Silverstein says
Ah Naftali. Thanks for reminding us of why it’s important for Tikun Olam to exist to represent a progressive Zionist alternative to the hate you spew. Another thing, Naftali seems to think he has a monpoly on Jewish suffering. We’ve all lost family ni Auschwitz my friend including me. You don’t have a monopoly on truth or suffering. So go take a hike back to the Kahanist/settler miasma you lurk in. It’ll be much more comfortable for you there.
I went to the GWU website and did a course search on courses taught by Diskin and recieved only two returns. A course called International Organizations and a course called Issues In Israeli Politics, so I question the accuracy of these reports. Perhaps she was not giving a course on the Israeli Arab conflict but on Israeli politics, which may explain why it had an Israeli bias.
stop do demonize the courageous defender of Israel, because when the ennemies of Israel will get it skin, they won’t make any difference between left or secular jews and the other.
An atheist activist defending ISrael
Typo in Silverstein article: He writes “…..slant the teching of Israel and Zionism In the college classroom.” He must mean “teaching”. Kind of sloppy for an article about teaching credentials, scholarship and funding in academe. Particularly when most computers have a Spellcheck feature. His thinking and assumptions about Saudi funding of academe seems faulty as well.