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Spies in the Classroom: CAIR vs. Campus Watch
by Cinnamon Stillwell
When on October 1, 2013, Samantha Bowden crept unannounced into the classroom of University of Central Florida communications professor Jonathan Matusitz, she wasn't hoping to advance her education on the sly. Rather, Bowden, the communication and outreach director for the Florida branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-FL), was doing something of which Campus Watch has been frequently accused, but has never done: spying on a professor in an effort to embarrass him and, with luck, even harm his career.
Since its inception in 2002, Campus Watch (CW)—a project of the Middle East Forum that reviews and critiques Middle East studies in North America with an aim to improving them—has been charged with an array of outrageous calumnies. They include paying students to infiltrate classrooms as "spies" or "informers"; targeting "pro-Palestinian" professors; and tracking "anti-Israel" comments." (Click here for a full collection of examples.)
Writing at his blog in 2005, University of Pennsylvania teaching assistant David Faris claimed to have been dogged by a Campus Watch "spy" for months: "At Penn, one of my semesters as a teaching assistant was deeply marred by an undergraduate Campus Watch spy . . . ." Faris flatters himself, as Campus Watch has never heard of him, then or since.
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