Castel-Bloom said that as an Israeli citizen, she "must therefore bear some responsibility for the actions of the Israeli government."
But at the same time, she said, "there have been a number of U.S. academics opposed to the policies of the U.S. government, from the Vietnam War to the invasion of Iraq, and beyond."
"Nobody has seriously proposed that all U.S. academics be boycotted from conferences and publications. This may be in part because of the power of the U.S., but it is also, I suspect, out of profound appreciation of the of the example set by the USA in matters concerning free speech and open enquiry," she said in the e-mail.
Castel-Bloom told the Maariv daily newspaper in Israel that "the University of Texas has surrendered to political blackmail. This is numerus clausus Texas 2012." That phrase is a reference to religious or racial quotas.
She said the situation reminds her of lyrics from the song "Sounds of Silence" -- "Hello Darkness my old friend, I have come to talk to you again."
"The University of Texas had no choice and the person that book was dedicated to will not be remembered through the book? But where are the students? Are they alive? Are they aware of what is going on in their place?"
Aghaie said the faculty, a diverse group in a department that supports Arab, Israeli, Turkish and Iranian studies, supported the center's decision to shelve the project.
Wrath against the university initially came from some pro-Israeli people, Aghaie said. But other Jewish voices, such as the Anti-Defamation League and the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies at the Austin campus, supported the center's stance. There were e-mails from upset Arab authors explaining their position, he said.
Criticism goes with the territory in the "contentious" world of Middle East studies, he said.
"We are routinely subject to pressure," Aghaie said on the center's webpage. And, he told CNN, "whatever you do, you are going to be attacked."
"For example, we are constantly pressured to exclude Arab and Muslim voices, especially those that are critical of U.S. policy in the Middle East, or of U.S. allies, in particular Israel. Others wish us to exclude the perspectives of those who defend the policies of the U.S., Israel or other nations. And of course, in addition to these pressures, we also hear from the normal assortment of Islamophobes, anti-Semites, religious bigots, racists etc." he said in a remark on the webpage.
The incident resonates for other Middle East scholars in the United States.
Fred Donner, director of the Center of Middle East Studies at the University of Chicago, praised Elizabeth Fernea and her work. He said she was "a wonderful person" who helped "bring a humane view of people in the Arab world to Americans" in the 1960s and 1970s "when Americans generally didn't have many resources to see the Arab world as it was."
He said he wishes the Arab contributors would have been pleased that Israeli authors were honoring Fernea's memory.
"So now, because of these contributors' ideological position, there will be no memorial to Fernea at all," he said.
Donner said all of the Middle East centers "face political pressure of diverse kinds" but strive to provide balance, with "a rich mix of activities representing contentious issues from as many perspectives as possible."
"They try to welcome responsible scholarly participation by those on all sides of the many contentious issues that afflict the Middle East - whether it is Israel vs. Palestine, Turkey vs. Armenia, Sunnis vs. Shi'is, Muslims vs. Christians, Baha'is vs. the Iranian government, Islamists vs. moderates and secularists, Kurds and their struggles with the governments of Turkey, Iran, and Iraq."
Aghaie said the incident drives home an important lesson he hopes students imbibe: censorship is "self-defeating" and "nothing good can ever come" of it.
And, he said, academic discourse should be exempt from a political boycott and "whatever they believe about identity politics," there needs to be some "guiding academic principles."
"If people want to challenge views, they should do it by arguing, writing, not silencing the other side," he said. "As an academic you want to engage people who disagree with you" and prove that they are wrong, he said.
Interviewed in the Journal of Higher Education, Aghaie stressed that academics and authors should be "talking across borders" and they all should recognize that they don't necessarily represent their governments' views.
"When Iran executes a gay man, I'm not guilty of that," Aghaie said in that interview. "I didn't do that. I would never support that."
He said censorship in the free marketplace of ideas is like price-gouging in a free-market environment.
"If we can't abide by basic academic principles, we're not academics," he told CNN.
Other Middle East departments in the United States might skew toward certain ideologies. Aghaie said the University of Texas has been "very fortunate" to have a big, tolerant tent.