Following the controversy this summer over the closure of Yale’s Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism, another Ivy League school is taking heat as questions have recently been raised about the agenda of Harvard University’s Middle Eastern Studies’ Outreach Center. On it’s website, the Center – which promotes its program in the Boston area and provides curricular materials to public and private schools – says its mission is to promote “a critical understanding of the diversity of the Middle East region.” But according to a recent report, the record of its director and its programming reveal a pattern of promoting a one-sided narrative rather than presenting diverse viewpoints.
The detailed report, published by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) highlights the Center’s Director Paul Beran’s longtime activism in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. In 2004 it says, he participated in the Presbyterian Church’s BDS campaign and claimed that he formed an alliance with an extreme anti-Israel group in order to counter criticism from “Zionists and their ilk.” The report details how following the failure of a similar BDS petition in Somerville, MA, Beran accused the town mayor, pension-fund manager and elected state representatives who voted against it of being “recruited by pro-Israel groups” and urged divestment activists to counter “Zionist backlash.”
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) is not-for-profit [501 (C) (3)], grass-roots community of scholars who have united to promote honest, fact-based, and civil discourse, especially in regard to Middle East issues. We believe that ethnic, national, and religious hatreds, including anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism, have no place in our institutions, disciplines, and communities. We employ academic means to address these issues.
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