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September 19, 2003 - Image 36

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-09-19

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Campus Watch To The Rescue

this region to current world politics,
ntellectual thugs," huffed
how the scholars fare is not a recon-
Rashid Khalidi, now of
dite matter, but an issue of impor-
Columbia University in New
tance for the general security and
York City. "Cyber-stalking,"
whined Juan Cole of the University
Trouble is, Middle East studies
have become an intellectual Enron.
of Michigan in Ann Arbor. "Crude
Scholars of the Middle East
McCarthyism" sniffed
David Bartram of the
generally are:
University of Reading in
• Incompetent: They consis-
England. "Totalitarian"
tently get the basics wrong.
thundered Jenine Abboushi
Militant Islam they portray
of New York University.
as a democratizing force.
What so outraged these
Osama bin Laden and Al
academic specialists on the
Qaida they dismissed as
The Palestinian
Middle East? It's a project
called Campus Watch that I
started a year ago this week
Spe cial
Academics are so consistently
to "review and critique
Comme ntary
wrong that government offi-
Middle East studies in
North America, with an aim
cials infrequently ask them
to improving them."
for advice.
• Adversarial: Many American
Campus Watch provides peer
review of a vital topic — think how
scholars are hostile to U.S. national
many problems come out of the
interests. Thus, the Middle East
Middle East. Given the centrality of Studies Association (MESA) board
has recommended that its members
Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle
"not seek or accept" U.S. govern-
East Forum, has a Ph.D. in early
ment-funded scholarships. That
Islamic history from Harvard University. three specialists in good standing
He taught at Harvard and the
were recently indicted on terrorism
University of Chicago. His e-mail
charges caused no alarm among
address is Pipes@MEForum.org
their colleagues.


• Intolerant: The field is hobbled
by political uniformity and an
unwillingness to permit alternate
viewpoints. At Berkeley, the section
leader of a course on Palestinian
poetics made this bias explicit
("Conservative thinkers are encour-
aged to seek other sections").
• Apologetic: Specialists generally
avoid subjects that reflect poorly on
their region, such as repression in
Saddam Hussein's Iraq, Muslim
anti-Semitism and chattel slavery in
Sudan. The MESA president recent-
ly discouraged studying what he
called "terrorology." Specialists
sometimes actively deceive, for
example, by denying that jihad his-
torically has meant offensive war-
• Abusive: Specialists too often
coerce students into regurgitating a
party line and penalize freethinkers
with lower grades.
Campus Watch seeks to remedy
these problems with a two-pronged
approach: offer specialists an
informed, serious and constructive
critique; and alert university stake-
holders — students, alumni,
trustees, parents of students,
regents, government funders — to
the failings of Middle East studies.

The professorate responded to
Campus Watch's launch last Sept.
18 with baseless allegations of
"McCarthyism" and worse. At the
same time, its furious reaction to
our work suggested that however
reluctantly, it heard our message.
With time, the hysteria has sub-
sided, replaced by an apparent resig-
nation to our continued review of
their scholarship and actions.
On its first anniversary, Campus
Watch can claim to have had an
impact. The U.S. House
Subcommittee on Select Education
held an unprecedented hearing on
questions of bias" in Middle
Eastern and other area studies pro-
grams. At Columbia University, stu-
dents, faculty and alumni have
begun agitating against their institu-
tion's one-sided coverage of the
Middle East. The University of
Michigan shut down a Web site that
disseminated the extreme Wahabi
version of Islam.
The Campus Watch staff lectured
at 48 educational institutions during
the past academic year, offering a
rare break from one-sided presenta-
tions of the Middle East. Unhappily,
our presence sometimes so inflamed
the opposition that bodyguards,


Never Far From Home



aking a bus is part of Israeli
culture. For Israelis, it's a
way of life. And for most
Israelis, especially those who
don't own cars and cannot afford taxis,
buses are essential. Nearly a million peo-
ple a day ride buses.
Even for those with cars, driving (and
parking) in the downtown areas of Tel
Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa is a headache.
Traffic accidents are the major killers in
Israel. Add clogged and congested roads,
especially during long rush hours, and
you have enough reasons to take a bus.
Israeli buses are cheap (about $1 per
ride in the city), efficient (about a 10- to
15-minute wait at most during the day)
and comfortably air-conditioned. But
today, buses are easy targets for
Palestinian Arab homicide bombers and
The largest bus company in Israel

Moshe Dan, who was born and raised




in Detroit, is a writer and journalist liv-
ing in Jerusalem. His e-mail address is


(and the second largest bus operator in
the world) is Egged (Hebrew for "linked
together"), a cooperative with 3,250
members, 4,500 salaried employees,
operating 4,000 buses on thousands of
But Egged, a government monopoly,
is an empire unto itself. According to its
critics, it has prevented the development
of mass rapid transportation and foiled
attempts to reform and restructure the
company. It offers good job security and
excellent pensions — and is in a posi-
tion to paralyze the country with a
strike. Politicians fear its economic and
political power.
As more buses have come under
attack, many are asking if EKed is
doing enough to protect its passengers.
According to its spokesperson, its securi-
ty apparatus was suspended in the early
1990s and only re-established a year or
two ago. I could not obtain permission
to speak with E:ed's security people
and was referred to the Ministry of
Transportation, which also did not reply
to verbal and written questions.
Not to worry. I took the next bus to

hears our conversation and
the shuk (Mahane Yehuda out-
door market). I like buses and
leans over.
"Transfer them [Arabs]. Get
I like shopping at the sprawl-
rid of them," he says in desper-
ing outdoor fruit and vegetable
market. It's so Israeli. The ven-
ation. Simple solutions.
We approach the shuk, but
dors are generally wonderful
rappers who will give you
the bus stops have recently
advice on everything from pol-
been moved away from the
entrance so I have to shlep a
itics to recipes and, after
little more. I pass the little bak-
weighing what you have put in
ery with trays of fresh rolls and
your plastic bag, will drop in a
cakes. Sounds of ha 14 ling sur-
little more, just to be sure they
haven't over-charged you.
Commentary round me as I enter the main
shopping area.
On the way, the bus driver,
There are guards all over. It
Shtnulik, who had been work-
won't help, I think. The terrorists will
ing for Egged for more than two
find more vulnerable targets. They
decades, did not seem worried about
know how to do this and have many
"the situation." He had been through
accomplices among Israeli Arabs who
wars and our long history of terrorist
have been recruited to join the Islamic
jihad against us.
"Any way to prevent attacks on
But somehow, amidst hundreds of
buses?" I asked.
other Israelis, I feel safe and protected.
He shrugged.
The faces, so different in shape and
"Nothing to do," he tells me. "Pray,"
color, are the puzzle that we have creat-
he advises, wiping his bald head.
ed here, coming together in spite of
"Nothing?" I ask again.
threats to wipe us out.
He shakes his head with a worn smile.
I buy a platter of eggs from a young
An elderly passenger sitting nearby


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