We Must All Reject The “Silencing” of Our Universities and of Intellectual Freedom


Mohamed Khodr’s Column

Abraham Lincoln


Honorable Administrators, Deans, Faculty, and Students of the Following Universities:


Colorado College; Columbia University; Concordia University; Harvard University; New York University;  Northeastern University; San Francisco State University; Stanford University; State University of New York; University of California – Berkeley; University of Chicago; University of North Carolina; University of South Florida; University of Toronto


ALAM, M. Shahid – Northeastern University; COLE, Juan – University of Michigan; DABASHI, Hamid – Columbia University
ESPOSITO, John – Georgetown University; KHALIDI, Rashid – University of Chicago; MASSAD, Joseph – Columbia University
MAZRUI, Ali A. – State University of New York, Binghamton; SHINGAVI, Snehal – University of California – Berkeley

IN THE CONTINUING TRADITION OF JEWISH GROUPS AND PRO-ISRAELI LOBBIES in our nation since the founding of Israel to silence by whatever means necessary any debate or criticism of Israel or any balanced study of Islam comes the newest and most blatant attack on our academic freedom, our freedom of speech, and our liberty and passion to seek knowledge and truth in our centers of higher learning.  The latest manifestation of such malice intent upon our freedom to learn, analyze, and reach independent thought, however unpopular, is the newly created website Campus Watch, by the known Pro-Israeli “expert”, Daniel Pipes (www.danielpipes.com). The sole intent of this website is to track and develop what amounts to a “hit list” or “black list” (much akin to the website listing Abortion Doctors) of universities and academicians who have the courage to analyze and perhaps criticize Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians; criticism already manifested in over 90 U.N. Resolutions, all supported by the United States; found in reports by every Human Rights Organizations, and in the worldwide media with the exception of the American media. Such a “hit list” is meant to draw media attention, galvanize the usual network of opponents who will flood the university and/or professor with hate mail, picketing, even death threats, jeopardize alumni funding, donations, and governmental or private contracts. Such tactics have been the norm against even the slightest hint of criticism of Israel, a nation whose founding, funding, weaponry, and U.N. vetoes depends on America’s support and largesse. For Israel to receive about 40 percent of all our foreign aid, amounting to five times what the entire continent of Africa receives is a testament to the power of Israel’s lobby.

With our Executive, Legislative, and Media institutions already submitting to such intimidating tactics, our Universities are the last bastion of freedom of thought, freedom from fear, freedom of expression and debate, freedom to seek the truth, freedom to analyze, and freedom to act based on a foundation of learning, curiosity, rationality, intelligent analysis, and most of all,  the “Courage” to challenge the status quo and move humanity closer to the ideal of equality, justice, and liberty “endowed by our Creator.”  Our Universities and teachers must never surrender their intellectual freedom to any group that attempts to stifle our most important gift, the gift of independent thought.

As the late Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, the founder of American Zionism, stated regarding the sacrifice of our founding fathers: “They valued liberty both as an end and as a means.  They believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty.”

We must defend our liberties and freedom of speech anywhere, anytime, and by any means necessary. Our very civilization depends on our liberty to think and speak freely without fear. Our institutions of higher learning that attract seekers of knowledge from around the globe must never submit to the double standard inherent in our domestic and foreign policies that benefit the few, the rich, and the mighty. Our future generation deserves no less than their endowment with an honest, fair, balanced, and critical education; rather than the conformity and herd mentality that permeates our political, economic, entertainment, and media institutions.

As Thomas Mann said: “Speech is civilization itself.  The word, even the most contradictory word, preserves contact.  It is silence which isolates.”

I beseech all of you to reject such intimidating tactics that divides the world, akin to Bush and Bin Laden, into two halves—-a world of either with or against Israel;  a world of being a self-hating Jew or an Anti-Semite. Even such a luminary as the President of Harvard lashed out at those Americans, mostly Jewish Americans, who seek to divest Harvard from its investments from Israel, as being Anti-Semites.  It was fine for Harvard to divest from the Apartheid regime of South Africa but not from Israel.

Anti-Semitism has become America’s “Scarlet Letter”, although most Americans don’t realize that “Semitic” refers to languages such as Arabic, Hebrew, Assyrian, Aramaic, Babylonian, and Ethiopian and has no relation to religion or ethnicity. It was only in the late 19th Century that a German journalist began using it to refer to the anti-Jewish sentiment in Germany and Europe. Arabic is the basis for all Semitic languages such as Hebrew and Aramaic. Given that the majority of Jews around the world don’t speak Hebrew they can hardly be called Semitic, while speaking the Arabic language defines who is an Arab, thus all Arabs are Semites.

May God bless you all for caring enough to be our teachers and mentors and not simply producers of a “silenced” generation of Americans.

As a former educator and victim of Sharon’s (Man of Peace) siege and onslaught on Beirut in 1982, I am only too aware of the tactics of carrots and sticks employed to “silence” our nation into submission to the will of Israel. Today Sharon is destroying the compound of Arafat as Bush seems intent on destroying Saddam’s compound.

Truth and Justice always prevails in the long run against false pride, arrogance, and might.

Peace, Shalom, and Salaam



http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/21/education/21HARV.html   (President Summers of Harvard during a Prayer Service to Open Classes states labeling Americans campaigning for divestiture from Israel as ANTI-SEMITES.)

Boston Globe Article on the “label” of Anti-Semitism directed against signatories of petitions to divest funds from Israel.

Mr. Mohamed Khodr is an American Muslim physician and a native from the Middle East. He has worked in Academic Medicine and Public health with national and international health experience. He is a freelance writer who often writes columns on the Palestinian cause, Islam and on America’s Foreign Policy in the Middle East.