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Monday, March 05, 2007

Should the US be funding universities that associate with terrorists?

The United States Agency for International Development has provided millions of dollars to two universities that participate in the advocacy, glorification or support of terrorism according to a report in the Washington Times. One of the universities - the Islamic University in Gaza - is controlled by Hamas. But the other university is far more interesting and raises broader issues:
The funding -- principally in scholarships to individual students -- is being eyed by several members of Congress and their aides, who say it may violate U.S. law.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided more than $140,000 in assistance to the Hamas-controlled Islamic University in Gaza -- including scholarships to 49 of its students -- since Congress changed the law in 2004 to restrict aid to entities or individuals "involved in or advocating terrorist activity."

No U.S. assistance was directed to Islamic University last year, but USAID continues to fund multimillion-dollar programs through American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA), which is building a high-tech facility for the school. U.S. law requires that any recipient of U.S. aid have no association with terrorists.

USAID also gave $2.3 million in aid last year to Al-Quds University, which has student groups affiliated with designated terrorist organizations on campus and last month held a weeklong celebration of the man credited with designing and building the first suicide belts more than a decade ago.


Also causing congressional concern is a PMW's report that Al-Quds University last month held a weeklong celebration honoring Yahya Ayyash, the Hamas leader known as "the shahid [martyr] engineer." He is credited with creating the first suicide belts in the mid-1990s and training the next generation of suicide bomb makers.

The opening event, as reported by a Palestinian newspaper and found in the PMW report, included a speech by university administrator Yusuf Dhiyab, "who discussed shahids and the mark that the shahids left on the history of the Palestinian nation and how they succeeded in uniting the nation."

In September, USAID announced an "extraordinary one-time" issuance of 2,000 scholarships for Palestinian students attending Al-Quds University at a total cost of $2.2 million, according to USAID. Simultaneously, USAID provided $100,000 in "in-kind assistance" to Al-Quds University.

In a written statement, USAID said Al-Quds University requested emergency assistance last summer, and the $2.3 million was offered because "strong U.S. support existed for assistance to moderate Palestinian leaders."

The statement singled out Al-Quds University President Sari Nusseibeh as "one such prominent and respected figure."

But Mr. Nusseibeh appeared on the Al-Jazeera satellite channel in 2002 with Hamas political bureau chief Khalid Mashaal and the mother of a suicide bomber, according to a transcript provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

"When I hear the words of Umm Nidal, I recall the [Koranic] verse stating that 'Paradise lies under the feet of mothers,' " he said, according to MEMRI. "All respect is due to this mother; it is due to every Palestinian mother and every female Palestinian who is a Jihad fighter on this land."
But there's much more to it than that. Note what the article says above: "U.S. law requires that any recipient of U.S. aid have no association with terrorists." As noted elsewhere in the article, that has been the law at least since 2004. It seems obvious from the above that al-Quds University has an 'association with terrorists.' That leads me to ask whether Brandeis University is a recipient of U.S. aid (I assume that it is) and if so, how, given that it has a partnership with al-Quds University and therefore is associated with terrorists.

Al-Quds University and Brandeis University are engaged in a unique intercultural partnership that links an Arab institution in Jerusalem and a Jewish-sponsored institution in the United States in an exchange designed to build a Palestinian civic institution, provide education opportunities for students, factulty, and staff, and foster cultural understanding.

Unlike traditional academic exchange programs that focus on students and faculty, the Al-Quds/Brandeis relationship has different goals:

  • improve the administrative and infrastructure capacities at Al-Quds, one of Palestine's nascent civic institutions;
  • strengthen academics and offer opportunities for faculty, staff, and students at both institutions;
  • educate the campuses about the advantages of cooperation, goodwill, and understanding.

The multi-year partnership is funded by a grant of nearly $500,000 from the Ford Foundation. The project has its roots in a week-long visit by Al-Quds President Sari Nusseibeh to Brandeis in 1997.

"This is an exciting partnership like no other in the world of academia," Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz said. "Through higher education, Al-Quds and Brandeis are working to bridge cultural divides that will make the world a better place.

"In forming a mutually beneficial working relationship, Al-Quds and Brandeis are modeling the kind of intercultural communication and cooperation that is vital to the success of any heterogeneous society, whether it be a university, city, or nation," Reinharz said.

Does Brandeis also honor Yahyeh Ayyash? Will we soon see and hear Brandeis President Judah Reinharz on stage with Hamas political bureau chief Khalid Mashaal and the mother of a suicide bomber saying "When I hear the words of Umm Nidal, I recall the [Koranic] verse stating that 'Paradise lies under the feet of mothers. All respect is due to this mother; it is due to every Palestinian mother and every female Palestinian who is a Jihad fighter on this land."

Associating with terrorists is nothing new for Brandeis:
Pipes criticized Brandeis scholars such as “Khalil Shikaki, a Crown Center [for Middle East Studies (CCMES)], fellow who has been credibly accused of terrorist links and has a second-to-none record in getting it wrong in his chosen field of Palestinian public opinion?” He also criticized academic Natana DeLong-Bas as "an apologist for Al-Qaeda whose depraved thinking was exposed in several recent articles (including ’ Natana DeLong-Bas: American Professor, Wahhabi Apologist’ and ’ Sympathy for the Devil at Brandeis,’ from frontpagemag.com).”

Pipes further criticized Brandeis for “staging that [anti-Israel] ‘Voices of Palestine’ art exhibit, hiring DeLong-Bas and Shikaki, granting an honorary degree to the anti-Zionist playwright Tony Kushner, appointing the muddled Prof. Shai Feldman (POL) to head the Crown Center, permitting an Islamist (Qumar-ul Huda) to serve as its Muslim chaplain and setting up the Brandeis-Al-Quds University study-abroad connection” (Brandeis Justice, February 13, 2007, available at DanielPipes.org).

Last year, the ZOA launched national public campaigns exposing Brandeis’ Fellow Khalil Shikaki’s past (as well as against Tony Kushner’s being honored by Brandeis, Al-Quds/Brandeis’ connection and ‘Voices of Palestine’ exhibit). We revealed reports in January 2006 that Shikaki had previously distributed funds within the Palestinian Authority (PA) for people associated with the terrorist group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Shikaki had also been a founding director of the Florida-based World & Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE), which was shut down by Federal authorities because of its ties to PIJ. WISE regularly invited radical Islamic speakers such as Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, later convicted in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; exiled Tunisian Rashid-el-Ghanoushi, considered a terrorist by the US and was refused a visa by the State Department; and Hassan Turabi, who is generally considered the real leader of the terrorist Sudan government. Oliver “Buck” Revell, the FBI’s former top counterterrorist official said that “anybody who brings in Hassan Turabi is supporting terrorists.”

Shikaki denied any knowledge that top figures in WISE, including PIJ’s current leader, Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, and an Al-Arian associate affiliated with WISE, Sameeh Hammoudeh, were at all involved in PIJ. Wiretaps of conversations between Shikaki, Shallah, and Hammoudeh introduced as evidence at the Al-Arian trial, suggested that Shikaki distributed money for Al-Arian associates within the PA, who raised the funds in America, and then stopped the money transfers in January 1995, shortly after PIJ was declared a blocked terrorist organization by President Clinton (New York Sun, January 17, 2006).

The renowned terrorism expert, Steve Emerson, Director of the Investigative Project, wrote a 13-page expose of Shikaki detailing Shikaki’s possible links to terrorists. At the time, the ZOA urged Brandeis President, Jehuda Reinharz, to thoroughly investigate Shikaki’s background and reconsider his appointment if necessary. He ignored our request and instead resorted to name-calling, describing ZOA National President Morton A. Klein as a “Jewish McCarthyite ” while praising Shikaki as a “great scholar.”

Equally disturbing is Brandeis Professor Natana J. DeLong-Bas, who stated in an interview with the Saudi daily al-Sharq al-Awsat (December 21, 2006) that she had found “no convincing evidence that Osama bin Laden was behind the attacks on the World Trade Center.” She has claimed that Islamist terror has nothing to do with radical religious interpretations, and blamed everything wrong in the Muslim and Arab world on the U.S. and Israel. She even described the “democracy” of terrorist groups like Hamas and the Wahhabi agents in Somalia as superior in achievement to U.S. democratization efforts. Her book Wahhabi Islam, dealing the extremist Islamist sect which is the state religion of Saudi Arabia, was produced with the support, including financial support, of establishment figures and institutions in Saudi Arabia.

In 2006, Brandeis conferred an honorary doctorate on the anti-Israel playwright, Tony Kushner, whose screenplay for the film Munich was widely condemned by numerous critics as being grossly inaccurate in ways that were hostile to Israel and inappropriately sympathetic to Palestinian terrorists. Kushner has made numerous egregious statements viciously condemning Israel and decrying its very existence, saying on one occasion that Israel’s founding a “mistake,” and that it “it would have been better if Israel never happened.” Kushner has also repeatedly blamed Israel for supposed “ethnic cleaning” and “dispossession” of Palestinians, supported boycotting Israel and attacked Jewish supporters of Israel as “the most repulsive members of the Jewish community.” Reinharz ignored these statements saying, “We are not interested in Kushner’s political views on Israel” and simply praised him as a great playwright for which he was being honored.
In conclusion, while it is eminently clear that the US ought not to be financing universities like the Islamic University and al-Quds, to me, the more interesting question is why the US continues to finance universities like Brandeis which continue to snub their nose at the US government by associating themselves with terrorists and their supporters. If the US government could threaten university funding for not allowing ROTC on campus, surely it can threaten (and withhold) funding from universities that choose to associate themselves with terrorists.

Update 11:12 PM

The State Department is denying that its money goes to support jihadists:
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said US officials concluded after a review that neither institution - the Islamic University of Gaza and al-Quds University - engages in terrorist activities.
Sounds a bit disingenuous to put it mildly.


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