The Saudi connection

The New York Sun reports that Saudi Arabia has given Columbia University's Middle East Institute annual grants of $15,000 since 2002 to support "outreach" programs, which allow Columbia faculty and graduate students to instruct many of New York's public school teachers about how to teach Middle East politics. Rashid Khalidi, head of the Middle East Institute, wrote government-owned Saudi Aramco (from which the money came) to thank them for enabling the Institute to be "more proactive and seek out wider outreach opportunities," activities that include, besides the teaching program, public lectures and a one-day teacher "sensitivity" training on how to teach issues related to Islam. In the past, Khalidi has attacked Israel's policies as "racist" and lauded the Palestinian "resistance." This case is just another example of well-funded special interests hijacking a curriculum, and not the first time Columbia has been implicated. Last year, Columbia was in trouble for failing to report a gift of over $250,000 from an unnamed Saudi individual. Also in 2004, the Fordham Foundation published The Stealth Curriculum, which, among other things, critiqued how Islamic history is taught and pointed to teacher training programs like the one at Columbia as culprits for their unbalanced appraisal of Islamic history. Author Sandra Stosky revealed that a Columbia faculty member supported the Arab World Studies Notebook, which is blatant Wahhabist propaganda.

"Saudis funded Columbia program at institute that trained teachers," by Jacob Gershman, New York Sun, March 10, 2005

"Supplementary text on Arab world elicits criticism," by Kathleen Kennedy Manzo, Education Week, March 2, 2005 (subscription required)

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