Middle East Studies Centers Captured by Activists, Report Finds

National Association of Scholars

New York, NY; October 6, 2022 – Middle East Studies Centers (MESC) have strayed from their mission to objectively study the Middle East and Islam, a new report from the National Association of Scholars (NAS) concludes. MESCs, which have received funds from the U.S. federal government, foreign nations, and donors, are overrun by activist faculty.

Hijacked: The Capture of America’s Middle East Studies Centers documents the history of MESCs and the financial arrangements that allow foreign donations to flow to American universities. America’s MESCs were originally founded to study the politics, culture, and language of Middle Eastern nations. But our analyses and case studies demonstrate that Middle East centers have since shifted their focus to promoting left-wing ideologies.

“Middle East Studies Centers today play fast and loose with objective truth,” said Neetu Arnold. “They instead focus on activism promoting anti-Western narratives and even push critical theory to K–12 educators.”

There are more than fifty MESCs at American universities. Of these, eleven are designated National Resource Centers (NRC), a special designation that allows an MESC to receive federal funds. Our report includes case studies on both federally funded NRCs and privately funded centers.

The report offers several recommendations to reform Middle East Studies Centers. These include subjecting public university foundations to Freedom of Information Act requests, strengthening and enforcing foreign gift reporting requirements, and ensuring university contracts with foreign nations are publicly accessible. We also recommend cutting federal funding of Middle East NRCs.

“The bias of these centers has been documented for years,” Neetu continued. “It’s time for taxpayers to be taken off the hook for these activist centers.”

NAS is a network of scholars and citizens united by a commitment to academic freedom, disinterested scholarship, and excellence in American higher education. Membership in NAS is open to all who share a commitment to these broad principles. NAS publishes a journal and has state and regional affiliates. Visit NAS at www.nas.org.


If you would like more information about this issue, please contact Neetu Arnold at [email protected].

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