Posted: 11/25/2009 5:28:00 PM
Author: Crititiqued by Ben-Dror Yemini
Source: This updated article appeared in the Jerusalem Post online on Nov. 25, 2009.
Academics behaving badly: A Critique of WHO SPEAKS FOR ISLAM?
critiqued by Ben-Dror Yemini
A huge stream of capital flows to Western academic institutions. It paves the way and inflames the next generation of Islamic radicals and academics who supply them with insights and justifications. This capital also greases the most important university chairs, and the prestigious Ivy League institutions. Tell me who your sponsor is, and I will tell you what your next study will say.
Naïveté, and sometimes ignorance, sometimes feigned innocence, together and separately, cause blindness to reign. The academic world would roll its eyes. We? Can money influence us? We are saints. Pure and free of any blemish.
Reality is a bit different. Money talks in academia. This works in all directions. University chairs funded by pro-Israeli bodies will sing an appropriate tune. And university chairs whose funds come from Iran or Saudi Arabia (ostensibly rivals, but in fact allies) - will also sing accordingly.
But there is a difference. The "pro-Israel" funds, inasmuch as they exist, are but a fraction of the huge capital that flows to the West; capital that indeed influences academic programs, directly and indirectly.
TWO YEARS ago, John Esposito published the book Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think, according to which only 7 percent of Muslims around the world belong to the radical stream. In fact, the book states, nine out of 10 Muslims are moderate.
There is no doubt that this is wonderful news. An absolute majority of moderates. In comparison with the believers of other religions, the outcome will yet be that the Muslims are the most moderate on Earth.
Middle East affairs expert Dr. Martin Kramer exposed the amazing misleading statements in the book in his post "Dr. Esposito and the 7% solution." For example, it makes no mention of an important poll that found that most of the Muslims in the world think that the 9/11 terror attacks were not carried out by Arabs. They were carried out, many Muslims believe, by the Mossad or the CIA, in order to defame Islam.
More importantly, who stands behind the renown researcher Esposito? It is none other than Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, who donated $20 million to Esposito's research foundation. And together they concoct for us an academic false presentation of Muslims, claiming that they are actually much more moderate than members of other religions. The money is Saudi. The result is an academic study by a prestigious university in the United States.
It does not have to be so. Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, refused to receive a donation from bin Talal after the 9/11 attacks because the prince argued that they were the outcome of US policy in the Middle East.
Esposito, on the other hand, received the money and, of course, blamed US policy in the Middle East as the cause for the attacks. Al-Qaida and Hamas do not need a propaganda department. Esposito and his colleagues do the work.
In Britain, dozens of "centers of Islamic studies" were set up in universities, in order to make Muslim students more moderate. But there is a problem. A report by Prof. Anthony Glees "Extremism fear over Islam studies donations" found that the Saudis poured GBP 233 million into these centers. The result was the radicalization of young Muslims in the UK. Here too, billionaire bin Talal is in the background. He donated GBP 8 million to an Islamic center in Oxford. A poll conducted in Britain revealed that one third of Muslim students justify murder in the name of religion. You will find no mention of this in Esposito's book. No chance.
The money has no influence, they will claim. This is what we will also be told by the professors being supported by an Iranian foundation, which wants to spread the religion of peace and love around the world. And also, of course, the wonders of the Iranian revolution and its great president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The writer is an Israeli journalist and a regular columnist at Maariv.