After months of debate, closed-door hearings, and intense lobbying, a faculty committee at Columbia University on Thursday released a report that largely cleared professors of Middle Eastern studies of charges that they were intimidating students — and explicitly stated that there was no evidence of anti-Semitism at Columbia.
Reaction to the report was in many ways predictable. Professors of Middle Eastern studies said that they had been exonerated (and the professor who was not cleared attacked the committee). Meanwhile, the harshest criticis of the professors said that the university had engaged in a whitewash.
Behind the scenes, however, there are signs that some players on both sides of academe's Middle East wars may be ready for, if not peace, at least a cease fire. At Columbia, a new grievance procedure will be created so that students who feel intimidated in the future know where to go with their complaints. And the university is moving quickly on an endowed chair in Israel studies. And at least some within Middle Eastern studies nationally say that there may be truth to the idea that too many programs are dominated by pro-Palestinian scholars.
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