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Friday, February 03, 2006

Dr. Khalil Shikaki

Dr. Khalil Shikaki has become a controversial figure at Brandeis University due to his ties to terror organizations. This post will consist of an article from The Jewish Exponent opposing Shikaki, a letter from American Friends for Piece by Piece Now in his favor, and a letter urging you all to contact Brandeis University urging that Shikaki be allowed to keep his position there, despite his ties to terror.

Do Terror Ties Really Matter?


Far less earth-shattering will be similar dilemmas of American Jews and their institutions that have invested so heavily in the notion of dialogue with the Palestinians. A recent controversy over the appointment of a Palestinian academic at Brandeis University speaks exactly to this difficult problem.

The man under fire at Brandeis is Khalil Shikaki, a leading Palestinian pollster who holds the title of senior fellow at the school’s Crown Center for Middle East Studies,where he co-teaches a course on peacemaking. Considered an expert in his field, he is the source of some fascinating polling material about Palestinians. Just last month, he released data culled during the P.A. election that showed the majority of Palestinians still supported a two-state solution to the conflict and wanted co-existence with Israel despite the vote for Hamas.

In addition to the position at Brandeis — a university with strong ties to the Jewish community — Shikaki has become a regular speaker at a host of Israeli and American institutions.

If any Palestinian is considered a moderate, it is Shikaki.

But recently, he has come under fire from the Zionist Organization of America, which called on Brandeis to sever its ties with the Palestinian and prompted calls of a boycott of donations to the school until they comply.

The knee-jerk response from much of the Jewish world has been outrage at the ZOA.

Brandeis President Yehuda Reinharz dismissed Shikaki’s critics, calling their tactics “McCarthyism.”

Americans for Peace Now rallied to Brandeis’ defense and termed the case against Shikaki not merely “unsubstantiated accusations,” as Reinharz had, but claimed the purpose of the campaign was a “right-wing” plot seeking to undermine moderates like Shikaki who have sought “common ground” with Israelis.”

How dare ZOA, which placed itself out of the mainstream by opposing Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza last summer, question the bona fides of an academic so trusted by so many Jews?

Unfortunately for Shikaki and his friends, the accusations against the Palestinian stem from a Department of Justice investigation of Islamic Jihad in the United States, not a “right-wing” plot.

Evidence presented at the recent trial of Sami al-Arian, another Palestinian academic who operated the American wing of Islamic Jihad — a bloody terrorist group even more radical than Hamas — showed that Shikaki was up to his neck in terrorist ties in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Prior to becoming the flavor of the month at Brandeis, Shikaki was the director of the World & Islam Studies Enterprise, a think tank set up at the University of South Florida by al-Arian, and which served as a front for for Islamic Jihad to establish its support network in this country.

... Shikaki, whose late brother Fathi was then the head of Islamic Jihad, was a part of the Islamic Jihad fundraising set-up in the United States. Transcripts of FBI wiretaps of Shikaki, al-Arian and their associates showed that Shikaki was responsible for distributing money in the West Bank under the guise of charitable activity and used Swiss bank accounts to launder funds raised in the United States. He claims they were for charities but at the trial of al-Arian, the government claimed the word “orphans” used in conversations between Shikaki and his confederates was a code word for Palestinian Islamic Jihad causes.

Whether the money was used to promote Islamic Jihad among the Palestinian population via charities that aid to promote their cause or to directly help terrorists who were killing Israelis and Americans, Shikaki’s involvement with this group of murderers is clear. After the U.S. government officially designated Islamic Jihad as a terrorist organization in 1995, it appears that Shikaki distanced himself from them. Israeli forces subsequently killed his brother.

According to Steven Emerson, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Investigative Project, there’s no question about Shikaki’s involvement. Emerson, one of the leading experts on Islamist terror connections, says the Palestinian is not telling the truth when he denies involvement with Islamic Jihad - and that the FBI tapes and other evidence combine to make a compelling case that render Shikaki’s explantions hard to believe.

“Shikaki was part of the creation of a terror network. He may be a moderate now, but he is trying to cover up his role in Islamic Jihad,” states Emerson.

Peace Now and Reinharz seem to rest their defense of him on the fact that Shikaki was not himself a target for prosecution. The acquittal of al-Arian by a Florida jury that seemed as uninterested in the evidence as the O.J. Simpson jury gives them further cover. But proof of Shikaki’s money-laundering — and his relationship with al-Arian and others now coming to light — cannot be credibly denied.

The question is: What should it mean to us now?

Read it all to find out!

Now, here's what the Jews of American Friends for Piece by Piece Now have to say about this:

Brandeis Alumni, APN Leaders, & Academics Call on Brandeis to Keep Ties with Dr. Khalil Shikaki

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - January 27, 2006
CONTACT: Lewis Roth - (202) 728-1893

Washington, D.C.—Brandeis University alumni, leaders of Americans for Peace Now (APN), and members of the academic community today sent a letter to Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz expressing support for the institution's hiring of Dr. Khalil Shikaki, a top Palestinian pollster and academic, as a senior fellow at the university's Crown Center for Middle East Studies and applauding President Reinharz's rejection of efforts to have Dr. Shikaki dismissed from this position. The letter was sent in response to a right-wing intimidation campaign to have Brandeis University drop its association with Dr. Shikaki based on unsubstantiated allegations linking him to Islamic Jihad. An organization involved with this campaign called on donors to reconsider their support of the university unless Dr. Shikaki is let go. APN is a Jewish, Zionist organization dedicated to enhancing Israel's security through peace and to supporting the Israeli Peace Now movement.

The letter said, in part, "Dr. Shikaki is one of the most preeminent scholars in the field of Palestinian political studies. His widely respected polling and analysis have provided U.S. government officials, members of the American Jewish community, and people around the world with a much better understanding of Palestinian trends and thinking. His work has pointed to both the challenges and the opportunities that exist for advancing peaceful ways of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And his collaborative work with Israeli political scientists has offered people a chance to compare attitudes in both societies towards important issues.

"Dr. Shikaki has also been a leader in promoting negotiations in Palestinian society. As an articulate voice of moderation, he has encouraged Palestinians to work to find common ground with Israelis to resolve their differences, and he has been physically attacked by militants who have objected to his efforts. His constant willingness to speak before Jewish audiences and his support for dialogue programs like Seeds for Peace also attest to his outstanding character. Brandeis University is fortunate to have Dr. Shikaki on its faculty.

"Unfortunately, there are extremist elements in the American Jewish community that are relentless in their efforts to try to undermine Palestinian moderates and have no shame in using guilt by association to denigrate Dr. Shikaki. He has not been charged with, much less convicted of, anything indicating that he has supported Islamic Jihad. Unless that happens, Brandeis University is wise to ignore such allegations and not bow to mean-spirited intimidation tactics. We applaud your statement in the Forward dismissing the objections raised to Dr. Shikaki's appointment at Brandeis."

The letter was signed by:

Follow link to see who signed the letter.

I received an email asking for the following letter to be sent to various persons in positions of influence at Brandeis:

Dear Friends,

Even with heavy editing, the info is more than anybody wants. I apologize, but please forward this message to your list of friends and family.

I will keep the explanation short. Paste the block of e-mail addresses into a new message and send/rewrite the message in your own words. If for no other reason, we owe support to the ZOA.

The addresses are for:

Jehuda Reinharz, President, BrandeisUniversity,

Shai Feldman, Director,CrownCenter for Middle East Studies

Nancy K Winship, Senior VP of Institutional Advancement

Karen Engelbourg, Assistant VP Alumni and University Relations

Thanks, Dalia


Subject: Don’t hire Shikaki

jreinhar@brandeis.edu; sfeldman@brandeis.edu; winship@brandeis.edu; kengel@brandeis.edu

Dear Brandeis Staff,

It has come to my attention that Americans for Peace Now has contacted
Brandeis University to support the hiring of Dr. Khalil Shikaki. Having
read more informative reports about Dr. Khalil Shikaki, I strongly protest
the idea that Brandeis would hire a faculty member with a history of ties
to Islamic Jihad terrorism.

Americans for Peace Now has a strong record of supporting the wrong causes
– including Arafat who promised peace in our time to the more recent
Geneva Initiative that collapsed with the election of Hamas.

I urge you not to hire Dr. Shikaki.



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