Krauss: New Organization Helps Promote Balance

The Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA), says Professor Michael Krauss, "vigorously defends academic freedom and promotes superior scholarship by providing professors and students with research and teaching resources, opportunities to publish and share their knowledge, and the ability to interact with scholars in an open atmosphere where ideas are judged on their merits." Krauss applauds the new organization for its ability to provide balance in the area of Middle East studies.

Spring 2008 saw the inaugural annual ASMEA conference, attended by some 250 members representing scholars, diplomats, military officers, and others. Nonpartisan and interdisciplinary, the year-old organization counts over 750 members holding degrees in 35 different disciplines. Members represent 40 nations and 300 universities worldwide.

Challenging the Status Quo in Middle East Studies, inFOCUS, Winter 2008. By Michael I. Krauss.

"In 2005, Georgetown University was the recipient of $20 million from Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia. Bin Talal attempted to offer New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani $10 million after September 11, 2001, while blaming America's foreign policy as the reason for the attacks. (Giuliani famously turned down the condescending offer.) The Georgetown gift put bin Talal's name on the door of the university's Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, which is run by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

"According to one recent study by Professor Jay Greene of the University of Arkansas, between 1995 and 2008 Arabian Gulf states were the source of 16 percent of all foreign gifts and contracts to U.S. universities. Of this amount, $88 million in gifts went to academics on 14 important U.S. college campuses. The effect of these gifts was to give partisans of the Gulf countries (and their varied political and religious interests) a bigger megaphone to shape the research, hiring, and promotion of the next wave of Middle East experts. The gifts also facilitated the acceptance of students from Gulf countries for training at these universities. Among the biggest recipients: the University of Arkansas, Georgetown University, George Washington University, and Harvard University.

"The impact of these gifts on Middle East studies can be profound." 

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