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  • December 2008
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No Objectivity Required – Vasser’s Middle East Studies syllabus

Campus Watch recently published yet another indictment of (a) the American educational establishment, and (b) the flagrant, adamant, arrogant lack of objectivity in academic study of Israel and the Middle East as a whole.  Here it is in full:

Biased Middle East studies professors are nothing new, but what about a professor who actually states in his course syllabus that he has no intention of presenting a scholarly, balanced approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict? This is how Vasser College history professor Joshua Schreier introduces the syllabus for his fall 2008 course, “The Roots of the Palestine-Israel Conflict“:

Students should keep in mind that this course is NOT designed to present “an objective” account of a “two-sided” conflict. The fact that there are supposedly two sides does not obligate us to portray each as equally right and/or equally wrong. The goal, rather, is to understand why the conflict arose, and what sorts of power inequalities have made it continue.

Schreier then goes on to lay blame at the feet of—you guessed it—Western imperialism, before making clear that he believes Jews (and, presumably, other non-Muslims?) do not belong in the Middle East:

…Why and how did economic globalization, technological development, and European imperialism foster the creation of two different national identities in Palestine? Why and how and when did these two identities develop in such a way as to preclude members of certain religious or ethnic groups from belonging? Why does Palestine, an area of the Ottoman Empire where the vast majority of people were Arabic-speaking Muslims only 70 years ago, currently host a “Jewish” state whose leadership claims to represent, first and foremost, only one of the ethnic/national communities living there?

Schreier is fond of using terms such as “Jewish ethnocracy” and “ethnic cleansing” in his discussion topics. The fact that Israeli society is multi-ethnic and multi-religious, while neighboring Islamic states do not allow freedom of religion and often discriminate against minorities, including Palestinians, seems to be lost on Schreier.

In keeping with Schreier’s stated goal of presenting only one perspective, his required texts are authored by some of the most anti-Israel professors in the field. They include Columbia University’s Rashid Khalidi, UCLA’s James Gelvin, UC Berkeley’s Beshara Doumani, and Nur Masalha of Saint Mary’s College (UK). None have demonstrated a modicum of objectivity in their teachings, which makes them perfect vehicles for Schreier’s propagandistic methodology.

That a “history” professor would so blatantly broadcast his biases indicates that Middle East studies, as professor Barry Rubin described it in an e-mail, has truly hit rock bottom.

It’s always best when the opponents declare their intent – without apology, excuse or qualification.

I ask you this: imagine if an unapologetic pro-Zionist lecturer in an American university declared his intent – i.e. lack of objectivity – but from a pro-Israel point of view?  What would his critics say about the standard of education, his ability to teach, and what his beliefs are doing to the young?  Imagine.

Want to make a difference?  Contact Joshua Schreier


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