That is, deception and half-truth, vilification of truth-tellers, and an overarching supremacist agenda.
“Saudis give big to promote Islamic studies in U.S.,” by Julia Duin (thanks to all who sent this in):
This summer, Harvard appointed its Islamic history professor, Roy Mottahedeh, to head its Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Islamic Studies Program. Harvard is hiring the first of four endowed chairs in the program and is using some of the $20 million to preserve a collection of Islamic documents.
On Nov. 3, the university hosted its first Islamic studies conference “” named after Prince Alwaleed “” on “Interpreting the Islamic Tradition in the Contemporary World.”
Harvard would not provide additional details about the disbursement of the funds, nor would Mr. Mottahedeh respond to numerous requests for an interview.
At Georgetown, the money was funneled toward its Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, which was quickly renamed the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. The center, part of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, trains many of America’s diplomats.
The Alwaleed Center is tucked away in a small suite of offices in the Bunn Intercultural Center. Its reception area is decorated with blue and white Pakistani tile, a framed page from the Koran and mother-of-pearl depictions of a menorah, the Nativity and the Dome of the Rock. The center’s aim, according to its mission statement, is to “improve relations between the Muslim world and the West and enhance understanding of Muslims in the West.”
The center’s director, John Esposito, a prolific writer and praised by many as being a national authority on the religion, was severely criticized by several scholars for downplaying the threat of Islamic terrorism in the 1990s when he was a foreign affairs analyst for the State Department.
Mr. Esposito, “more than any other academic, contributed to American complacency prior to 9/11,” Martin Kramer, a fellow at the Olin Institute at Harvard, wrote in a Jan. 2, 2006, commentary on his blog, sandbox.blog-city.com.
“[He has] proved that he’s still a magnet for Arab and Muslim money,” Mr. Kramer wrote. “Prince Alwaleed apparently decided that while Esposito’s reputation may be dented, the professor still has some value in him.”
Mr. Esposito declined to be interviewed for this article but did defend himself in several e-mails.
“Two of my books, including ‘Unholy War,’ were among the eight books recommended by [U.S. Army] Lt. Gen. John Vines to his senior staff when he took over command in Iraq,” he wrote. “[My article] ‘What Makes a Muslim Radical’ in Foreign Policy received the most hits of any of its publications, more that 100,000 in the year it was published.”
Mr. Esposito said the number of programs sponsored by his center went from 27 last year to 22 this semester alone. The first of three new faculty, Ibrahim Kalin, a scholar on Sufiism and Islamic philosophy, is slated to come on board next fall.
A month before the gift was publicly announced, Mr. Esposito was one of four persons flanking Prince Alwaleed before a photographer at the George V hotel in Paris. It was then that the prince told Georgetown officials of their $20 million windfall “” and that Mr. Esposito would oversee how the money was spent.
Spreading the wealth
Winfield Myers, director of Campus Watch, a watchdog group under the aegis of the Middle East Forum think tank, said it’s too early to tell whether the prince is getting his money’s worth. One sign of success is if a university can place its recent doctoral graduates in positions of influence.
“The prince knew very well Georgetown’s in a milieu filled with lobbyists and opinion makers; thus any program of his will exert more influence there than at a university not in a power center like Washington,” Mr. Myers said. “The grant also gave Esposito a much bigger microphone. When you’ve got a $20 million institute, that amplifies your voice considerably.”
The Saudi Embassy’s press office did not respond to requests for comment on this article, and a spokeswoman for Prince Alwaleed said he was “too busy” to respond.
“With all the talk of the Israel lobby, no one talks about the Saudi lobby,” Mr. Myers said. “There is no counterweight to Saudi influence in American higher education.”
Indeed, Ain-al-Yaqeen reported that King Fahd has spent “billions of Saudi riyals,” around the world.
“In terms of Islamic institutions, the result is some 210 Islamic centers wholly or partly financed by Saudi Arabia, more than 1,500 mosques and 202 colleges and almost 2,000 schools for educating Muslim children in non-Islamic countries in Europe, North and South America, Australia and Asia,” the paper reported.
The billionaire prince
Mr. Kramer, also the author of “Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America,” says American universities have allowed themselves to be purveyors of Saudi influence and opinion.
“Universities generate ideas, and [Prince Alwaleed] regards one idea “” the ‘clash of civilizations” “” as positively dangerous to Arabs and Muslims,” he wrote on his Web site, martinkramer.org. “So he has embarked on a grand giving spree, to create academic ‘bridges” between Islam and the West, and specifically between the Arab world and the United States …
“The mind boggles at the possibilities, when you think of the purchasing power of the world’s fifth-richest man,” Mr. Kramer continued. “Of course, this is why we can’t ever expect to get the straight story on Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism and oil from people who operate within Middle Eastern studies. If you want a fabulously wealthy Saudi royal to drop out of the sky in his private jet and leave a few million, you had better watch what you say “” which means you had better say nothing.”
Precisely. Read it all.