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November 05, 2008

PBS’s Problematic “Campus Battleground” Re-Aired


The “Campus Battleground” documentary film in the PBS series, "America At a Crossroads," ostensibly reported objectively on “Pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli activists clash[ing] at UC Berkeley and Columbia University.” However, when the film was closely scrutinized by CAMERA, something other than objectivity was revealed (Film Review: Campus Battleground (2007)).

Problematic aspects of the film include: 1) No mention of serious instances of pro-Palestinian intimidation and violence on campus such as Concordia/Montreal (2002). 2) Footage is provided of a class teaching only a Palestinian perspective on history, yet there is no similar clip demonstrating an Israeli or a more neutral perspective on history. 3) The mainstream Palestinian perspective opposing Israeli security checkpoints and the security barrier is shown but not the mainstream Israeli perspective explaining the need for these measures. 4) Completely inadequate discussion of the problems arising from the fact that numerous instructors on American campuses indoctrinate students with false teachings defaming Israel. Examples of this last point:

Rashid Khalidi, professor of Middle East Studies at Columbia University and the director of Columbia’s Middle East Institute, has defamed Israel for many years with falsifications such as the claim that non-Jews are barred from most land in Israel.

Joseph Massad, Columbia University professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history, frequently defames Israel in his classroom and then bullies students who dare to question either his tendentious, often false facts or his opinions.

Steve Niva, a defamer of Israel, teaches Middle East Studies at Evergreen State College (Olympia, Washington). Mr. Niva, frequently lecturing and writing on the Arab-Israeli conflict, maintains falsely that Israel itself - not Hamas, Islamic Jihad or any other terror group - is to blame for the suicide bombings which have killed hundreds of Israelis.

From time to time, films in the Crossroads series are re-aired so that Campus Battleground was re-broadcast (not merely once but twice) on Thursday, October 30, 2008, by many PBS stations across the U.S. One of these stations was Boston’s WGBH World (a digital cable channel). The Crossroads broadcast schedule provides a local-stations one and two-week advance listing for premieres and re-airings.

Fortunately, Crossroads provides a Web site feedback process for complaints.

Posted by MK at November 5, 2008 02:36 PM


That Rashid Khalidi criticizes Israel does not mean he "indoctrinates students". Indeed, even the most vocal critics of Columbia's Middle East studies program have gone out of their way to praise Khalidi as a model of fairness in the classroom and to praise his openness to opposing viewpoints and his respect for those who disagree with him.

Posted by: CU Alum at November 7, 2008 01:56 PM

Funny how the comment I submitted more than 24 hours ago correcting some false allegations about Rashid Khalidi still hasn't been posted.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised, though. The site's policy says "We will not post comments that include . . . factually inaccurate material", but says nothing about factually inaccurate materials in the articles themselves.

Posted by: CU Alum at November 8, 2008 06:29 PM

Note to CU Alum: CAMERA staffers do not work 24/7 and so if you submit your comment on a weekend or vacation day there can be a delay in approval.

Posted by: TS at November 9, 2008 02:24 AM

Khalidi might become an overt supporter of anti-Israel extremism if the mainstream climate changes, but until then he makes a lousy symbol of bigotry in the academy. Although Khalidi is a mask, and employs the kind of ambiguity listeners should be wary of, his arguments do not employ trickery. He's also civil in discourse.

Posted by: Adam at November 10, 2008 12:21 PM

The comments pertaining to "PBS's Problematic 'Campus Battleground' Re-Aired" seem to be concentrated on a perception that the subject of Rashid Khalidi was unfairly or incorrectly covered.

First, is it possible that Khalidi's non-threatening mannerisms or lack of boisterousness have been confused with fairness or lack of trickery? Secondly, regarding the assertion that Khalidi does not indoctrinate students; is this to say that Khalidi is two different persons - one in the classroom, the other outside the classroom - sort of a schizophrenic? Why should we expect anything different in class? What is clear from Khalidi's writings and public utterances is that he is an unreliable scholar and a propagandist.


Khalidi wrote in the Washington Post (10/1/97) : "... non-Jews are barred by law from purchasing or leasing most properties (Jewish National Fund property, 'state land,' and land under control of the Custodian of "Absentee" Property - i.e., stolen Arab land) and are barred from renting in segregated Jewish-only neighborhoods. Where is the racism in this picture?" CAMERA debunked this Khalidi falsehood in a 3/12/05 Web posting: "Half the land used by Israeli-Arab farmers is state land leased from the Israeli government, and the only segregated towns in Israel are Arab localities such as Nazareth and Umm al-Fahm, where no Jews are allowed to live. In contrast, the 'Jewish' town of Upper Nazareth is now more than 17 percent Arab."

Khalidi falsely accused Israel of "systematic racist policies against 3 million people" in an 8/4/01 CNN International broadcast, Diplomatic License.

Khalidi falsely charged Israel with being a "racist" state with an "apartheid" system and claimed that America has been "brainwashed" by Israel (MSNBC's Scarborough Country, August 2003).

Posted by: JB at December 11, 2008 01:55 PM

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