Campus Watch

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Group.png Campus Watch
Founder(s) Daniel Pipes
Type lobby
Wikipedia page Campus Watch

The Organization

Campus Watch is a Philadelphia based organization. It is essentially a neo-McCarthyite attempt to intimidate US college professors into toeing the Likud Party line whenever they talk about Israel and Palestine. A project of the extreme Zionist Middle East Forum, it claims that "it reviews and critiques Middle East studies in North America with an aim to improving them."[1] However, the agenda has little to do with America as professors are singled out for 'their views and teachings on Palestinian issues and Islam'[2].


The project is a creation of the pro-Israel propagandist Daniel Pipes [3] who suggested that all American Muslims and Arabs ought to be interned like the Japanese during WWII [4] and Martin Kramer, editor of MEF's Middle East Quarterly, a former Director of the Moshe Dayan Center [5] at Israel's Tel Aviv University, and a member of the right-wing PR firm, Benador Associates.[6] Benador Associates has strong Neo-conservative ties, with many influential members, and regular access to the media through which it arranges their TV appearances and speaking engagements, and helps to place their articles in newspapers. [7]

Modus Operandi

Campus Watch first registered on the radar when it 'unleashed an Internet firestorm' in September 2002,when it 'posted "dossiers" on eight scholars who have had the audacity to criticize US foreign policy and the Israeli occupation.'[8]

As a gesture of solidarity, more than 100 academics subsequently contacted the Middle East Forum asking to be added to the list. In response, Pipes has since posted 146 new names, all identified as supporters or 'apologists for suicide bombings and militant Islam.' He also claims 'most of the writers are academics from fields other than Middle East studies (and so are not qualified to judge the work of the academics we listed).' By this standard, he is similarly unqualified, as he is not a professor and his PhD was earned in medieval history. [8]

The American Civil Liberties Union has described Campus Watch as 'an assault on academic freedom' and declared that it 'threatens to suppress discussions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict'. It argues that 'the site encourages 'citizen informant' behaviour' akin to the Operation TIPS program, which aimed to turn utility workers and mail carriers with access to private homes into informants for the Justice Department. [9]

The initial dossiers on the targeted professors 'supplied the necessary "contact" addresses and numbers for any angry patriot'[10] which was followed by harassment taking the form of hostile spam, spoofing, and telephone death threats in some instances.[11] A torrent of criticism led Campus Watch to take the dossiers down[12] and instead, the information was transferred to a new section titled 'Survey of Institutions', which has expanded to include 43 institutions at present.

Big Brother

The website actively encourages students and colleagues to inform on professors deemed unfriendly or critical towards the state of Israel, or US policies in the Middle East. To showcase its success in identifying extremism and bias on the campuses, it regularly features a quote from aggrieved informants as evidence. One reads:

"[One professor] suggested that I take classes in the political science department to 'open my mind' -- in other words, to CHANGE my views No thanks."
-Queens College Student. October 2003.[13]

The tactics employed by Campus Watch have even led the national director of the otherwise staunchly pro-Israel organization the Anti-Defamation League to distance himself, noting that 'Such a list could tarnish reputations of good people'.[14] In its current incarnation, however, it is still moderate compared to the openly racist rhetoric that it espoused, when it was first launched. One of its earlier complaints read 'Middle East studies in the United States has become the preserve of Middle Eastern Arabs, who have brought their views with them. Membership in the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), the main scholarly association, is now 50 percent of Middle Eastern origin.'[15]

Silencing Dissent

Commentators have pointed out that Campus Watch is an 'attempt to take legitimate academic discourse and cast it as 'incitement" to be dealt with by public pressure on funding and appointments, rather than through academic exchange.' [16] Campus Watch has actively lobbied to prevent the U.S. government from allocating funds for Middle East Studies.

The idea is to cut off government Title VI funding to Middle East area studies programs--which was increased after September 11--and redirect it to a new Defense Department program. Called the National Flagship Language Initiative, the new program launched this past April to establish learning centers for Arabic, Farsi and Turkish, among other languages, to support Americans willing to make a "good faith effort" to join the Defense Department, the CIA or a number of other government agencies after graduation. [17]

Campus Watch's efforts bore fruit as the House of Representatives passed a bill, HR 3077 in late 2003.

The bill, . . ., mandated that area studies programs that receive federal funding under Title VI of the Higher Education Act must "foster debate on American foreign policy from diverse perspectives." HR 3077 sent a chill through many scholars of the Middle East. "This bill represented an unprecedented degree of intrusion by the federal government into what goes on in our classrooms and in our universities," says Zachary Lockman, chair of the department of Middle Eastern and Islamic studies at New York University. [18]

The bill drew a harsh response from the American Civil Liberties Union with Campus Watch and its creators receiving pointed criticism. [19]

Campus Watch also targeted a Women's Studies conference at the State University of New York and had its university funding withdrawn 'due to the participation of several pro-Palestinian speakers'. [20] Campus Watch and its creators have succeeded in capitalizing on the fears generated by 9/11 in order to cast doubt on the motives and agenda of academia and scholars, while successfully keeping their own ideological agenda obscure. Kramer has attacked the academic discipline of Middle Eastern studies as it 'failed to prepare the country for the possibility of a terrorist assault'. [21]

Columbia in the Crosshairs

More recently, Campus Watch launched another assault to stifle criticism of US and Israeli policies by creating an artificial crisis at the Columbia University, a campus known for its tolerant, multi-cultural atmosphere. As an accomplishment of Campus Watch, Pipes cited its success in "pressuring Columbia University to the point that the president has organized a committee [to investigate] political intimidation in the classroom"[22]. Under pressure from publications like the New York Sun and the Village Voice and politicians eager to make political capital off the crisis, the University conducted an investigation, which took into account views of the aggrieved, as well as their targets. Most Jewish students and faculty themselves came to the defence of the accused and denounced the whole process, with one Jewish faculty member asserting 'It is a crazy, crazy exaggeration to claim that Jews are under attack at Columbia or that the faculty is anti-Semitic.' While one of the alleged victims added 'I definitely feel safer in the MEALAC department as a Jew than I do at a religious Columbia Jewish event'. [23]

The Ah-hoc Grievance Committee's report shed further light on Campus Watch and the David Project for their role in instigating the 'crisis' through a film titled Columbia Unbecoming that purportedly shows the anti-Israel bias of the professors[24].

What's clear is that Columbia Unbecoming is a propaganda film: one that portrays Jewish students as "silenced" by professors who "criticize Israel and...question its legitimacy"; in which vague and anonymous accusations are tossed about by students whose faces are sometimes blurred and whose voices are sometimes masked; which deliberately conflates what instructors say in the classroom with what they publish and do outside the classroom; and which attributes sinister motives to Columbia administrators and faculty, not one of whom is given the opportunity to respond to the allegations.[25]

The David Project itself is a group that has ties to the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC), an organization whose members include AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee.[26] It's President, Charles Jacobs is the cofounder of CAMERA, a pro-Israel media watch-dog group, and a member of the right-wing PR firm Benador Associates. [27] The director of the David Project's New York office is also the regional ICC representative in New York.

Recommended Professors

On the subject of the Middle East, Campus Watch recommends a list of academics whose views it approves of. Given the extreme views of Campus Watch it serves more as an indictment. Following professors are currently recommended by Campus Watch.

Campus Watch Approved Academics
Akbar S. Ahmed Fouad Ajami Isaac Alteras
Daniel Brumberg Shaul Bakhash Jamsheed Choksy
Mark R. Cohen David Cook Michael Cook
Patricia Crone Marius Deeb Alan Dowty
Robert O. Freedman David Fromkin Timothy Furnish
Gregory Gause Michael Gunter Norman Itzkowitz
Bruce Jentleson Efraim Karsh Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet
Mark Katz Judith A. Klinghoffer Timur Kuran
Jacob Lassner Avigdor Levy Bernard Lewis
James E. Lindsay Kanan Makiya Fedwa Malti-Douglas
Ann E. Mayer Khaleel Mohammed Yitzhak Nakash
Guity Nashat Robert Rabil Seyyed Vali Reza Nasr
Daniel C. Peterson Walid Phares Bernard Reich
Franck Salameh Philip Carl Salzman Saliba Sarsar
Michael Schub Haim Shaked Kemal Silay
S. Rob Sobhani Steven L. Spiegel Kenneth Stein
Norman Stillman John W. Swails Raymond Tanter
Selwyn K. Troen Abraham Udovitch Harold (Hal) Waller
William E. Watson Quintan Wiktorowicz Birol Yesilada
Marvin Zonis   


Daniel Pipes – Director Eric Bergel – Project Coordinator Teri Blumenfeld- Research Manager,
Troy Carey – Bookkeeper Brooke Goldstein – Director, The Legal Project Judy Goodrobb – Managing Editor, Middle East Quarterly
Grayson Levy – Webmaster Aaron Meyer – Assistant to Director, The Legal Project Winfield Myers – Campus Watch Director
Adam Pechter – Deputy Publisher, Middle East Quarterly Sarah Pipes – Research Assistant Noah Pollak – Assistant Editor, Middle East Quarterly
Thelma Prosser – Office Manager Asaf Romirowsky – Campus Watch Associate Fellow Michael Rubin – Editor, Middle East Quarterly
David J. Rusin – Research Associate, Islamist Watch Jonathan Schanzer – Campus Watch Adjunct Scholar Amy Shargel – Managing Director
Portia Simmons – Development Associate Cinnamon Stillwell – Campus Watch West Coast Representative Supna Zaidi- Assistant Director, Islamist Watch
Staff, Campus Watch, Accessed: 18 October 2008


  1. About Us, Campus-Watch (Accessed: 25 September 2007)
  2. Tanya Schevitz, "'Dossiers' dropped from Web blacklist; Mideast center says denouncing professors was counterproductive", San Francisco Chronicle, 3 October 2002.
  3. CAIR, Who is Daniel Pipes?, Council on American-Islamic Relations (Unsuccessful Access: 25 September 2007)
  4. Daniel Pipes, "Why the Japanese Internment Still Matters", New YorkSun, 28 December 2004.
  5. Moshe Dayan Center
  6. Articles by Our Members: Martin Kramer (Accessed: 25 September 2007)
  7. Brian Whitaker, Conflict and catchphrases, The Guardian, 24 February 2003. (Accessed: 25 September 2007)
  8. a b Kristine McNeil, The War on Academic Freedom, The Nation, 11 November 2002 (online). (Accessed: 25 September 2007)
  9. Ellen Sorokin, For Mideast views, 'biased' professors posted on Web site; ACLU compares it to TIPS program, The Washington Times, 6 October 2002.(Accessed: 25 September 2007)
  10. John Sutherland, “So a US website wants students to target professors who question the war on Saddam. Oh, grow up...” , The Guardian, 7 October 2002.
  11. Paul de Rooij, Smear Mongers, Counterpunch, 24 September 2002 (Accessed: 25 September 2007)
  12. Schevitz op cit. (Accessed: 25 September 2007)
  13. Keep us Informed, Campus Watch (Accessed: 25 September 2007)
  14. Sorokin op cit. (Accessed: 25 September 2007)
  15. Nigel Perry & Ali Abunimah, "Campus Watch: Middle East McCarthyism?", Electronic Intifada, 25 September 2002.
  16. Nigel Parry and Ali Abunimah, Campus Watch: Middle East McCarthyism?, Electronic Intifada, 25 September 2002. (Accessed: 25 September 2007)
  17. Parry and Abunimah, ibid.<--Poor indication of footnote, it could possibly be: McNeil, op cit. (requires verification)-->
  18. Scott Sherman, The Middle East Comes to Columbia, The Nation, 16 March 2005. (Accessed: 25 September 2007)
  19. ACLU Letter to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Expressing Academic Freedom Concerns, American Civil Liberties Union, 13 February 2004.
  20. Jeremy Johnson, “’Campus Watch’ web site witch-hunts Middle Eastern studies professors in the US”, WSWS, 30 December 2002.
  21. Sorokin, op cit.
  22. Jane Tassel, "Militant about ‘Islamism’", Harvard Magazine, January – February 2005.
  23. Sherman, op cit.; Amal Hageb, "The Arab answer to the Columbia University question", Independent Press Association, 29 December 2004.
  24. "Ad Hoc Grievance Committee Report", Columbia News, 28 March 2005.
  25. Sherman, op cit.
  26. Ibid.
  27. Charles Jacobs (Accessed: 25 September 2007)