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Monday, March 07, 2011

The tip of the Muslim iceberg

In an earlier post, I noted that the London School of economics was returning a £300,000 donation from the Gadhafi family of Libya out of fear that its 'American donors' would be unhappy with it. Since I wrote that post, LSE Director Howard Davies has seen fit to resign.

But as most of us who follow these things know already, the LSE donation from the Gadhafi's is just the tip of the iceberg of Islamist donations to major universities (Hat Tip: Jihad Watch via Atlas Shrugs). And what's most troublesome about those donations is not their size or existence but the academic agenda and the loss of academic freedom that goes along with them.
Yet, on the most conservative estimate, other British universities have received hundreds of millions of pounds from Saudi and other Islamic sources – in the guise of philanthropic donations, but with the real intention of changing the intellectual climate of the United Kingdom.

Between 1995 and 2008, eight universities – Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, University College London, the LSE, Exeter, Dundee and City – accepted more than £233.5 million from Muslim rulers and those closely connected to them.

Much of the money has gone to Islamic study centres: the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies received £75 million from a dozen Middle Eastern rulers, including the late King Fahd of Saudi Arabia; one of the current king’s nephews, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, gave £8 million each to Cambridge and Edinburgh. Then there was the LSE’s own Centre for Middle Eastern Studies, which got £9 million from the United Arab Emirates; this week, a majority of the centre’s board was revealed to be pushing for a boycott of Israel.

While figures since 2008 have yet to be collated, the scale of funding has only increased: such donations are now the largest source of external funding for universities by quite a long way. The donors claim that they want only to promote understanding of Islam – a fine goal for any university.

But the man who gathered the earlier figures, Prof Anthony Glees, argues that their real agenda is rather different: to push an extreme ideology and act as a form of propaganda for the Wahhabist strain of Islam within universities. They push, he says, “the wrong sort of education by the wrong sort of people, funded by the wrong sorts of donor”.

This is not simply scare-mongering. The management committees of the Islamic Studies centres at Cambridge and Edinburgh contained appointees hand-picked by Prince Alwaleed. Other universities have altered their study areas in line with their donors’ demands. And it works.

A study of five years of politics lectures at the Middle Eastern Centre at St Antony’s College, Oxford, found that 70 per cent were “implacably hostile” to the West and Israel. A friend of mine, a former Oxford academic, felt that his time was largely spent battling a cadre of academics overwhelmingly hostile to the West, in an ambience in which students – from both Britain and abroad – were presented a world-view that was almost exclusively anti-Western.
And while the article does not mention them, the same donors give huge amounts to American universities as well. Here's a 2008 interview with Jay P. Greene, a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and endowed chair and head of the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas.
FP: Tell us about how Arabian Gulf countries donate to US universities. What’s the significance?

Greene: I’ve done some analysis of foreign gifts to US universities in two posts on my blog that can be found here and here. First, I found that Arabian Gulf states (mostly Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates) give way out of proportion to their wealth. Gulf Arabs are the source of 16.44% of all foreign gifts and contracts to US universities but they represent only 1.95% of foreign GDP. That is, Gulf Arabs give 8 times more relative to their wealth than do other foreign donors. To put it in perspective, our top 10 trading partners (excluding Saudi Arabia) give 47% of all foreign gifts and contracts and represent 44% of foreign GDP; their giving is roughly proportionate to their wealth. Clearly, Gulf Arab countries have a particularly strong interest in US universities.

FP: Why do these Arabian Gulf states engage in these donations?

Greene: They probably have a few reasons. They provide a louder megaphone to people articulating their interests and shift the selection and development of future Middle East experts toward their way of thinking. Second, they want to be able to send students from their own countries for training at these universities. Large donations help facilitate that. Third, they are determined to build their own world-class universities and these donations help secure expert advice on how to do that. For example, Qatar has built an "Education City" with satellite campuses operated in Qatar by Cornell, Georgetown, and Virginia Commonwealth. Saudi Arabia has committed $25 billion as an endowment for their elite university. Investments in US universities should help transfer the know-how to these new institutions.

FP: How are Arab donations concentrated?

Greene: If we focus only on gifts and exclude contracts, most of which seem related to oil production and research, Gulf Arabs gave a total of $88 million to 14 US universities between 1995 and the present (if federal filings are accurate and complete). The biggest recipients (in order) are the University of Arkansas (where I am a professor), Georgetown University, George Washington University, and Harvard University. I also note that the 14 recipient universities are the homes of a disproportionate 16 of David Horowitz’s 101 most dangerous professors.
Read the whole thing.

In case you're wondering (I know you are), the 14 universities are:
American University (The) $500,000
Boston University $1,500,237
Columbia University $500,000
Cornell University $10,900,000
George Washington University $11,953,519
Georgetown University $16,232,667
Harvard University $11,871,563
Howard University $250,000
MIT $10,000,000
Michigan State University $926,740
Rice University $2,750,000
Texas A&M University $1,498,671
Tufts University $1,000,000
University of Arkansas $18,312,524

Total $88,195,921
I'm surprised Bir Zeit on the Hudson isn't higher on the list.

These donations - mostly directed at Islamic centers or at 'Palestine' study departments - have a disproportionate impact on how Western academia views the region. As Martin Kramer points out,
"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."
We can't get the straight story about Israel from most academics either - and for the same reason.

What could go wrong?

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At 11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry for the OT here but have you seen this?


At 12:21 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


Ran that story two weeks ago with the video.

At 4:15 PM, Blogger Hatfield said...

I've wondered how many Jews could or do study at these "universities" in the Gulf? Can Jews even go there?


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