Thursday, January 12, 2006

How the Saudis do business with academia;Columbia Dean Admits Taking Saudi Junket

Suppose a university dean named to a special committee convened to investigate student complaints about professors' hostility to Israel took an all expenses paid trip to Saudi Arabia paid for by Saudi Aramco, the Saudi-owned oil company.

And suppose that same university was actively involved in soliciting funds and grants from the Saudis. Would you be surprised if that committee, formed to investigate complaints of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic bias turned out to be a whitewash and refused to consider the complaints seriously?

That's exactly what happened at New York's Columbia University.Columbia Dean Admits Taking Saudi Junket - January 11, 2006 - The New York Sun - NY Newspaper

Dean Lisa Anderson of Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs now admits going on a junket paid for by the Saudis and which the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations helped organize. It took a total of 10 Columbia faculty members and scholars to Riyadh, Dharan, and other parts of Saudi Arabia to tour facilities and meet with officials of the oil company.

The junket to Saudi Arabia is described in glowing terms on a Web site for former Saudi Aramco employees that details the "delightful lunch" enjoyed by the Columbia delegation, as well as a "wonderful dinner" during which "guests watched the sunset over the sand dunes from the tent."

Needless to say, this information didn't sit well with critics of Columbia's anti-Israel bias especially as the special committee formed to investigate complaints of bias ended up clearing the scholars involved and finding the complaints unfounded. Somehow, i don't think that was a coincidence!

"Saudi money is borderline corruption," said a research associate at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, Martin Kramer, who has been a vocal critic of Middle Eastern studies in America.

Columbia, of course has a history of soliciting funds from Arab donors. Among other things, Columbia now admits that among the donors of the $2.1 million Edward Said chair were the United Arab Emirates, which gave $200,000, and the Olayan Charitable Trust, a charity associated with a Saudi-based multinational corporation, the Olayan Group.

And Columbia failed for years to comply with federal law requiring the disclosure of gifts from overseas. Among the gifts it failed to disclose to the federal government in 2003, until The New York Sun reported the university's failure to comply, was a $250,000 gift from an unnamed Saudi individual for "social science research."

The Saudis have a record of funding lavish chairs of Middle East Studies throughout academia. Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Alsaud recently gave $20 million gifts to Georgetown and Harvard Universities. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

What they apparently get in return for this largesse is a whitewash of Wahabi Islam and Jihadi activities, and a steady stream of Leftist professors trumpeting the message that the problem in the Middle East is Israel.

It appears to be money well spent. complaints of anti-Israel intimidation at Columbia continue to surface.

A professional violinist, Anat Malkin, in December told the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz that she dropped out of her graduate program in the university's Middle Eastern studies department because she did not want to endure bullying from biased, anti-Israel professors.

"In one class the lecturer cited an article about how the Israelis were raping Palestinian women in the prisons and then sending them back to the territories. I raised my hand and said that no friend of mine had raped a Palestinian, and he started to shout at me," she told Ha'aretz.

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