Professor Nathan Brown's reactions to CMIP's letter to UNRWA and CMIP's responses to Professer Brown

Date: November 14, 2002

Last week, you posted the following statement on your website in a letter to Peter Hansen:

"The second academic, to whom you refer, Professor Nathan Brown, has made general and unsupported allegations that CMIP reports are 'tendentious and highly misleading'. The nature of our reports, a maximum of direct quotations and a minimum of commentary and interpretation, affords him ample opportunity to illustrate and substantiate his contentions. This he steadfastly refuses to do, notwithstanding that he has been effectively challenged to do so."

The statement comes as quite a shock because I have posted information on my website documenting:

  • 1 instance in which CMIP has supplied information about its funding that is contrary to the report of a highly reputable Jewish philanthropy in the US;

  • 1 instance in which CMIP has doctored one of its own documents to remove the name of its former director of research as author (as part of a larger attempt to pretend he had only a small role in the organization);

  • 16 misleading statements (that is, statements that are designed to lead the reader to a false conclusion);

  • 14 totally false statements;

  • 3 highly dubious and undocumented claims;

  • 3 demonstrably false statements about my work;

  • 2 instances of CMIP denying its own statements; and

  • 2 general and unsubstantiated attacks on my motives.

(See: http://www.geocities.com/nathanbrown1/Response_CMIP.htm)

Allow me to add that this is a partial list. There is more that I would be happy to document if you would wish.

For instance, I am aware of one instance in which an Israeli academic published selections from your reports in an academic journal without crediting CMIP. The article in question made a major factual error, claiming the old Jordanian and Egyptian books were authored by the PA. (The CMIP reports left this impression on virtually all readers, leading to frequent misstatements in public, as I have documented.) On this occasion, CMIP contacted the editor of the journal to complain about the failure to credit CMIP but made no effort to correct the basic factual error underlying the entire article. In short, CMIP made not the slightest attempt to correct the misimpressions it had created; it merely wanted credit for them. The information for my claim was supplied by the editor of the journal in question. If you disagree with any of these claims, please feel free to tell me why. But do not tell me that I have refused to respond. Since one document on your website refers to the information in the bulleted points above but does not respond to any of it, it is clear to me that you know that I have illustrated and substantiated my conclusions. Even if you were not convinced by my responses, your claim that I have "refused" to respond is completely and knowingly false. It is you who have refused to respond to me. I would therefore request that you do the following:

  • remove the letter to Mr. Hansen from your website immediately;

  • write a letter of correction to all the officials who received copies of the letter, explaining that I have supplied the information in question and it is available on my website;

  • if you remain unpersuaded by my claims, explain precisely why--and, more important, include a link on your website to my own response so that readers can judge for themselves. If--as you imply--my response is lacking, that will be clear to all. I suspect most people will come to the precise opposite conclusion: your work is simply not reliable.


    CMIP's Response to Professor Brown

    To: Professor Nathan J. Brown

    From: The Center for Monitoring The Impact of Peace

    We are in receipt of your communication of the 5th November, in which you take exception to a passage in a letter we sent to Peter Hansen, Commissioner-General of UNWRA, as part of an exchange of letters relating to the propriety of UNWRA participating in the provision of education in accordance with the Palestinian Authority's new textbooks, introduced in school years 2000 and 2001.

    The UNWRA website, in "Myths And Facts", refers to your statements regarding these new textbooks, which are the textbooks covered by our report "Jews, Israel and Peace in Palestinian School Textbooks 2000-2001 and 2001-2002" published in November 2001, as set out in the bibliography at the end thereof. We wrote to the Commissioner-General drawing his attention to quotations from the new textbooks, contained in our said report, which were at variance with the seven statements attributed to you. In reply we were informed that UNWRA believes that the website accurately reflects the nature of the Palestinian Authority's new textbooks to quote from objective, respected academics such as yourself who have studied the books.

    Since UNWRA saw fit to disregard the quotations to which we drew its attention on the basis of your statements regarding the new textbooks and presumably in reliance on your allegation, quoted on their website, that our work is "tendentious and highly misleading", our response was that you have as yet not illustrated or substantiated this.

    Indeed, as far as we can see, of the some 270 quotations from the textbooks in our report you have in fact specifically referred to one only, namely that on page 12 from National Education, Grade 7, p.22 (Homework), where you claim that by exaggerating the pejorative nature of a word in Arabic we have created an impression of anti-Semitism that is absent in the original. We are satisfied that our translation is correct and that your criticism is misplaced and nothing more than mere carping. We find support for our view in Hans Wehr, A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, ed. J Milton Cowan, 3rd edition, SLS Inc. Ithaca, New York, p.569 (greed, greediness, avidity, covetousness; ambitious desire, ambition: object of desire). We are more than happy to leave it to those with expert proficiency in Arabic to decide which translation more faithfully conveys the original. If you would care to relate any of your other allegations of misleading and false statements and dubious and undocumented claims specifically to any part or parts of our above-mentioned report on the new textbooks, we shall be happy to respond. Until then it does seem to us that the passage in our letter referred to above does accurately reflect the situation.

    The only other point, which is not really germane to the subject matter of this letter, but should be addressed because of its implications for the integrity of CMIP, is your allegation that CMIP has misled journalists on the sources of its funding. The fact that this misleading appeared to you to be for no apparent reason should have led you to the obvious, and innocent, explanation that at the time of the interview the information given was correct, but subsequently a supplementary source of financing was found.


    Professor Brown's Response to CMIP Letter

    Date: 13 November 2002

    I wrote to you on 4 November 2002, complaining that you had posted a false statement about me on your website and sent it to several American and European officials. You had claimed in a letter to Peter Hansen that I had made "general and unsupported" claims that your reports were "tendentious and highly misleading." You further claimed that I "steadfastly refuse" to provide illustrations or substantiation.

    In my reply, I pointed out that this statement was completely at variance with the record and that you knew this to be the case. My claims are highly specific and well documented. I pointed out that I had substantiated (without receiving any response from you):

    • 1 instance in which CMIP has supplied information about its funding that is contrary to the report of a highly reputable Jewish philanthropy in the US;

    • 1 instance in which CMIP has doctored one of its own documents to remove the name of its former director of research as author (as part of a larger attempt to pretend he had only a small role in the organization);

    • 16 misleading statements (that is, statements that are designed to lead the reader to a false conclusion);

    • 14 totally false statements;

    • 3 highly dubious and undocumented claims;

    • 3 demonstrably false statements about my work;

    • 2 instances of CMIP denying its own statements; and

    • 2 general and unsubstantiated attacks on my motives

    And my reply noted one additional instance (I can provide others) in which CMIP took pains to take credit when its reports were used to claims that CMIP knew to be false.

    On 7 November 2002, I received your reply to my complaint. Unfortunately, the response largely consists of a new series of demonstrably false statements.

    First, your reply attempts to make the case that only your 2001 report is at issue, and that you only meant that I had not substantiated my criticisms with regard to that specific report. But that is directly contradicted by your own earlier words. Your original statement attempted to defend your reports in the plural, used the word "general" to refer to my criticisms and made utterly no mention of the 2001 report, in which you claimed that I have "made general and unsupported allegations that CMIP reports are 'tendentious and highly misleading'. The nature of our reports, a maximum of direct quotations and a minimum of commentary and interpretation, affords him ample opportunity to illustrate and substantiate his contentions. This he steadfastly refuses to do, notwithstanding that he has been effectively challenged to do so." Second, you explain your refusal to respond to any of my criticisms on the strange and unexplained grounds that they do not apply to your 2001 report. Specifically, you state "If you would care to relate any of your other allegations of misleading and false statements and dubious and undocumented claims specifically to any part or parts of our above-mentioned report on the new textbooks, we shall be happy to respond. Until then it does seem to us that the passage in our letter referred to above does accurately reflect the situation." If you refuse to answer any criticism unless it is directed to your 2001 report, then it is you who are refusing to reply to me-steadfastly so, in fact-not the other way around. So the passage in your letter in which you claim otherwise is false. And you might want to explain your utter silence on the numerous errors, inconsistencies, personal attacks, and misleading statements I have pointed to.

    Your reply goes on to make two more problematic statements. First you select one of my criticisms that is directed against the 2001 report (though not the only one) and attempt to refute it. The issue dealt with a passage in which the word "atma'" was used. Your defense is that the word does refer to greed. But that is irrelevant to my criticism, which noted that the word had "covetous overtones." The meaning of the word was not at issue; what I criticized was your use of an adjective to modify the noun (when a single word that combined the adjective and noun would have been more appropriate), and your attempt to claim that the adjective modified the word "Jews" which it did not.

    If this was your most misleading statement, however, I would never have criticized your work. Unfortunately, however, there is a larger pattern of far more serious misrepresentations and falsehoods in your work-and I have given dozens of documented examples. For example, I have shown instances in which you have claimed not to have said things that you yourselves have posted on your web site, discrepencies in your accounts of your own history as an organization, and even an occasion in which you have doctored one of your own documents in an attempt to erase your former director from your history as an organization.

    Let me cite one example of a dubious claim that concerns me personally. I wrote that after 1994, Israel allowed uncensored Jordanian books to be circulated in East Jerusalem. Your reply was that Israel circulated only censored books, and added sarcastically, "since this fact is well-known amongst researchers, it is puzzling that the information has eluded Professor Brown." Might I trouble you to name the researchers who support your position that Israel never--even after 1994--allowed the uncensored books? And if you cannot name a single one, might I trouble you to apologize for your sarcasm and to post the apology in the same location you posted your original claim?

    Your reply ends by finally conceding that one of my dozens of criticisms-regarding CMIP's false statement about its funding-needs attention because of "its implications for the integrity of CMIP." It is unclear to me why you believe this is the only issue that involves CMIP's integrity. I described the issue as "at best tangential" and could point to far more consequential instances of intellectual dishonesty But since you have selected it for special attention, I will respond.

    I pointed out that CMIP had claimed that "Andre Marcus paid for "its $100,000 annual budget almost entirely by himself," but that the Jewish Communal Fund reported granting the organization one-quarter of that budge--$25,000--in 2000-2001. I was confused by CMIP's statement-I could think of no reason not to point to the support of a highly reputable philanthropy.

    CMIP now offers what it calls an "obvious" and "innocent" explanation: CMIP was financed "almost entirely" by Marcus but then later obtained other support: "at the time of the interview the information given was correct, but subsequently a supplementary source of financing was found." The problem is that the explanation is neither obvious nor innocent.

    First, it is not obvious because of a discrepancy with regard to timing: CMIP's statement came in January 2002 in an interview with Marc Pearlman, a journalist with the Forward. The Jewish Communal Fund reports having granted CMIP $25,000 in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2001. (It reports having granted $76,000 in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2002, presumably a good part of it before the Forward interview). This is why CMIP's explanation did not seem so obvious to me.

    Second, the explanation is not "innocent." If CMIP's statement is accurate, then a major and esteemed Jewish philanthropy has filed false information with the Attorney General of the State of New York. If CMIP really wishes to claim that no significant funds arrived from the Jewish Communal Fund prior to the Forward interview, the matter is of some legal consequence.

    In conclusion, allow me to reiterate my earlier requests to:

    remove the letter to Mr. Hansen from your website immediately;

    write a letter of correction to all the officials who received copies of the letter, explaining that I have supplied the information in question and it is available on my website;

    if you remain unpersuaded by my claims, explain precisely why--and, more important, include a link on your website to my own response so that readers can judge for themselves. If--as you imply--my response is lacking, that will be clear to all. I suspect most people will come to the precise opposite conclusion: your work is simply not reliable.

    Allow me also to note that a portion of this third request has been met (you have posted my message which includes the url for a portion of my website, though I would greatly prefer an actual link). You have not met-or even responded to-the other requests.


    CMIP's Response to Professor Brown

    Date: 19th November 2002

    We have received your communication of the 13th November and note with interest that, although challenged to substantiate and illustrate your allegations of misleading and false statements and dubious and undocumented claims by specifically relating them to any part or parts of our report on the new textbooks, you have chosen, yet again, to have recourse to extraneous matters including superseded reports.

    As we have already made clear, our correspondence with UNWRA relates only to the new Palestinian textbooks. UNWRA, on its website, has seen fit to deny "the myth" that "UNWRA schools and textbooks teach hatred of Israel", by basing itself on statements made by you concerning the Palestinian Authority's new textbooks and on your criticism that our work is "tendentious and highly misleading". In reply to our letter drawing the Commissioner General's attention to quotations from these textbooks that are inconsistent with these statements UNWRA reaffirmed its position. Our contention, that your allegations that our reports are tendentious and highly misleading are general and unsupported, is clearly within the context of this correspondence with UNWRA, as is immediately obvious to any fair-minded reader of it. This is the issue with which we are concerned, and from which you seem so intent on sidetracking this exchange of communications.

    The methodology in all our reports, those relating to the Syrian and Israeli textbooks as well as the 2001 report on the Palestinian textbooks, is such as to afford you - and other critics - ample opportunity to illustrate and substantiate your allegations. We are still waiting for you to do so and it is to be hoped that such specific criticisms as you have to make will be of a somewhat higher order than your quibble over whether a particular word in Arabic is to be translated into English by one or two words and whether "greedy ambitions of the Jews" is a roundabout way of saying "ambitions of the greedy Jews" (hypallage of epithet?). Until then your continued silence speaks far more loudly than all your protestations.


    Notice posted on Professor Nathan Brown's website following his receipt of CMIP's letter of 17th November 2002.

    CMIP's final reply is simply incorrect in its claim that "any fair-minded reader" would understand that CMIP's charges involve only the 2001 report. Indeed, there is virtually no way the statement can be construed in such a way. First, my criticism that CMIP's work is "tendentious and highly misleading" was made before CMIP issued its 2001 report and could hardly have referred specifically to it. Second, UNRWA's letter to CMIP made no specific mention of the 2001 report. Third, CMIP's response to UNRWA-which I took issue with-made clear that my criticisms were directed against CMIP's reports (in the plural).

    CMIP is also misleading in its claim that all its other material is "superseded." In fact, the reports are still posted on its website and still lead those who read them to draw false conclusions-conclusions which CMIP eagerly takes credit for and makes no effort to correct. And when I criticized those reports, CMIP defended them rather vociferously (though not particularly honestly).

    If CMIP really wishes to disassociate itself with its previous work, it should do so openly. With regard to the 2001 report, I have said that I welcome one notable improvement in method (when compared with other CMIP work): it stopped the practice of mixing older material (authored in Jordan and Egypt) with newer, Palestinian-authored material without clearly labeling the different. I did make other criticisms of the report, however, which have not drawn any response from CMIP. And this one improvement, though significant, has been recently abandoned in CMIP's latest 2002 report.

    Finally, with regard to the translation issue: once more, I do agree that this is minor compared with some of the other errors and misleading statements and techniques in the reports. But the simple fact is that CMIP transformed a reference to Zionism with pejorative overtones into an anti-Semitic slur by sleight of hand. I do not regard this as simply a quibble.

    The only positive element I can find in the reply is that it taught me a new word, "hypallage," for which I had to consult a dictionary. But it turns out to fit precisely.


    CMIP Response

    Professor Brown seems to believe that if something is repeated a sufficient number of times it somehow becomes true. First, it is interesting to learn from him that the support derived by UNWRA for its defense of the new Palestinian textbooks is based on criticisms made by him before our 2001 report on them was issued. It is surprising that he has not seen fit to draw the attention of UNWRA to this so that its website could be corrected.

    Secondly, since the whole correspondence with UNWRA originated out of its website which specifically refers to the "Palestinian Authority's new textbooks introduced in 2000 and 2001", the agency's letter to CMIP did not need to make specific mention of the 2001 report, which is the only report which deals with them. Its letter could not refer to anything else. The mere fact that Professor Brown feels the need to raise such an argument is further indication that he has no real substantive argument against the contents of this report.

    Thirdly, Professor Brown's criticisms may well have been against our reports (in plural), but that has never been the issue, which is whether he can impugn the 2001 report. As far as we can see his criticism of that report is restricted to what we regard to be a quibble over translation - and those conversant with the Arabic language will be able to decide for themselves which of us is correct - and to the question of the legitimacy our report ascribing to a textbook the views expressed in another book to which it refers the pupils.

    In conclusion, Professor Brown has been repeatedly challenged to point to misleading and false statements and dubious and undocumented claims in our 2001 report. This he has not done. The facts speak - rather loudly - for themselves.


    Professor Brown criticizes CMIP on his website - December 2002

    This is probably the most frustrating exchange I have ever been engaged in because my interlocutor is so rich in chutzpa but totally bereft of elementary honesty.

    First, let me stress once more that this entire exchange began when CMIP posted a letter stating that I had not substantiated my claims about its reports (in the plural) and that I had been challenged to document them but failed. This was an utter and complete falsehood, and I asked CMIP to withdraw the charge. I have pointed out repeatedly that I have documented every single one of my statements and that it is CMIP thas has failed to respond. CMIP has yet to cite even one statement of mine that is not documented, yet the organization repeats their charge ad nauseum. Second, CMIP is simply not telling the truth when it claims that UNRWA was referring to their 2001 report. In CMIP's entire correspondence with UNRWA, the 2001 report was not mentioned once by either side. Once again, if the correspondence was referring only to the 2001 report, why did CMIP refer to reports in the plural (indeed, it did so twice)? What is at issue is CMIP's credibility as an organization, especially its methodology and truthfulness. UNRWA's statement questions CMIP's general reliability, and quotes me (with my permission and approval) in that regard.

    UNRWA seems to have taken the quite sensible position (perhaps more sensible than mine) that it is simply not worth entering into detailed dialogue with such a mendacious party.

    Third, it is simply false to say that CMIP's 2001 report is the only one that covered the new books. CMIP has published other reports and material that make mention of the new Palestinian books; its 2000 report (the most recent when I wrote my paper last year) is still widely circulated. I am glad to see that CMIP has finally taken that horrid document off its website, but it has done so without repudiating it. And other shameful materials remain. My own paper paper simply could not have referred to CMIP's 2001 report because it was written before that report came out-which CMIP knew but still had the audacity to criticize for not mentioning it! CMIP's criticism of that paper-in a rejoinder filled with repeated and easily documented falsehoods-is still posted on its website. CMIP's attempt to restrict all discussion to its 2001 report is a clear attempt to divert attention from its ugly record of calumny and distortion. If CMIP would remove all the offensive material from its website and present only its 2001 report as indicative of its views, I would be happy to update my evaluation of its work by providing a detailed assessment of that document.

    Fourth, CMIP's claim that "Professor Brown's criticisms may well have been against our reports (in plural), but that has never been the issue…" is utterly false. Those criticisms-and CMIP's charge that they are undocumented--remain precisely the issue, because CMIP has made them the issue by posting. the charge on its website and sending it to numerous European, UN, and American officials. It is unclear to me why CMIP believes it can smear people and then, when challenged, claim that the smear is not at issue.

    CMIP has simply lied repeatedly-about its finances, its origins, its own reports, and a whole host of other matters. The organization is even unable to quote its own words honestly! Its general technique seems to be to mislead people and, when caught, throw up a large number of falsehoods, personal attacks, and confusing statements in order to divert attention from its dreadful record. It has followed this path with the Palestinian textbooks, UNRWA, the EU, and now me. All of this is richly documented elsewhere on this (and CMIP's own) website.

    I have finally tired of CMIP's dishonesty and decided to confront it. If, in the process, I have made any error, I welcome a correction. If such an error is documented, I will acknowledge it and apologize to any affected party. If CMIP were to adopt a similar policy, it would find its staff occupied with writing apologies for quite some time.


    CMIP's Response

    Professor Brown's "Reply to CMIP 2 December 2002" posted on his Internet site has not actually been received by CMIP, either by ordinary mail or by e-mail.

    It would appear from it, however, that Professor Brown's frustration has got the better of him and he sees chutzpa and lack of elementary honesty where in fact he should be seeing a challenge to refute the arguments that we addressed to UNWRA against his findings, according to UNWRA's website, in regard to "the Palestinian Authority's new textbooks introduced in 2000 and 2001".

    The situation may be summarized as follows:

    UNWRA on its website attributes certain statements regarding the said new textbooks to Professor Brown which, on the basis of our 2001 report, which deals only with the said new textbooks, we refuted one by one in a letter to the Commissioner General.

    In its reply UNWRA stated, regarding the contents of its website, that it believes that it accurately reflects the nature of the Palestinian Authority's new textbooks "to quote from objective, respected academics such as Professor Nathan Brown..."

    In reply to UNWRA we pointed out that the nature of our reports affords him ample opportunity to impugn the findings and quotations in our 2001 report so as to support his contention that it is another one of CMIP's "tendentious and highly misleading" reports.

    It seems to us that there are two possibilities. Either UNWRA has misunderstood Professor Brown and in fact the statements attributed to him do not refer to "the Palestinian Authority's new textbooks introduced in 2000 and 2001" at all, in which case it is surprising that Professor Brown has not apprised them of this and requested that their website be corrected (and his reputation preserved), or UNWRA has not misunderstood Professor Brown and the said statements do comprise his findings in regard to those textbooks. In the latter case they have been refuted by our 2001 report and notwithstanding our repeatedly challenging Professor Brown to impugn our report he steadfastly refuses to do so.

    Copyright © 2002 All rights reserved.