Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) is nonpartisan 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.
We welcome scholars from all disciplines, faiths, and nationalities who share our desire for peace and our commitment to academic freedom, intellectual integrity, and honest debate.
The peace we seek in the Middle East is consistent both with Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign Jewish state within safe and secure borders, and with the rights and legitimate aspirations of her neighbors.
Our mission is to inform, motivate, and encourage faculty to use their academic skills and disciplines on campus, in classrooms, and in academic publications to develop effective responses to the ideological distortions, including anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist slanders, that poison debate and work against peace. SPME welcomes scholars from all disciplines, faiths groups and nationalities who share our desire for peace and our commitment to academic integrity and honest debate.
SPME believes there is room for negotiation. SPME is trying to counterbalance the well-documented and increasing anti-Israel and anti-Semitic forces that have made their way to the college campuses today, as SPME believes they do not contribute to peace for anyone affected.
SPME agrees with Thomas L. Friedman who wrote, “Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic, and saying so is vile. But singling out Israel for opprobrium and international sanction out of all proportion to any other party in the Middle East is anti-Semitic, and not saying so is dishonest.” Campus Hypocrisy
On September 17, 2002, Harvard President Lawrence Summers said, “….Where anti-Semitism and views that are profoundly anti-Israeli have traditionally been the primary preserve of poorly educated right-wing populists, profoundly anti-Israel views are increasingly finding support in progressive intellectual communities. Serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent.”
On October 7, 2002, an ad appeared in the New York Times signed by over 300 College Presidents decrying anti-Semitism on campus and calling for ethnically “intimidation free” campuses.
On November 8, 2002, Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger criticized a faculty-sponsored petition calling for the university to divest from Israel. “The petition alleges human rights abuses and compares Israel to South Africa at the time of apartheid, an analogy I believe is both grotesque and offensive, Bollinger said in a statement. As president of Columbia … I want to state clearly that I will not lend any support to this proposal.”
On November 13, 2002 the United Nations Security Council condemned “acts of terror” against Israeli targets in Kenya and deplored the claims of responsibility by the Al-Qaida terrorist network.
By a vote of 14-1, the council urged all 191 UN member nations “to cooperate in efforts to find and bring to justice the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of these terrorist attacks.
Commenting on Martin Luther King’s view of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, Dr. Seymour Martin Lipset, the noted sociologist and political analyst, wrote in “The Socialism of Fools: The Left, the Jews and Israel,” a booklet published by The Anti-Defamation League in 1969 wrote: “Shortly before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King, Jr. was in Boston on a fund-raising mission, and I had the good fortune to attend a dinner which was given for him in Cambridge…He wanted to find out what the Negro students at Harvard and other parts of the Boston area were thinking about various issues,…One of the young men present happened to make some remark against the Zionists. Dr. King snapped at him and said, “Don’t talk like that! When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking ‘anti-Semitism!’ ” “
SPME has formed task forces to examine issues of:
- anti-Semitic or anti-Israel biases in the mandatory multicultural religious and ethnic teachings on campus and in the community;
- working to maintain “intimidation free” campuses;
- dealing with academic integrity with respect to fabricating and falsifying data when discussing the Middle East;
- Responding to anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incidents on campus as they arise, especially in classrooms and university sponsored events. SPME is working closely with and being encouraged by major organizations such as, but not limited to:
- Academic Friends of Israel-UK
- American Association of Academics for Israel
- American Jewish Committee
- American Jewish Congress
- Anti-Defamation League
- Anti-Semitism Task Force of American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists
- Caravan For Democracy
- Global Forum Against Anti-Semitism
- Hasbara Fellowships
- Hillel Foundation
- International Advisory Board on Acacademic Freedom-Bar Ilan University (IAB)
- International Academic Friends of Israel
- Israel on Campus Coalition
- Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
- Jewish National Fund
- North American Jewish Students Association
- United Jewish Communities of North America