Friday, June 24, 2005

Professors of Terror

An article in the current issue of The Jewish Week tells a story which has not received much play in the major news media -- Are Arab Professors Masterminding Terror?:
     It has been called “the most significant terrorism trial” since 9-11: the first time alleged leaders of Islamic Jihad, self-confessed killers of more than 100 Israelis and two Americans, are being tried in an American court; the first time the controversial Patriot Act has lassoed jihadists of this magnitude; and the first time that Arab professors in an American university who have claimed “academic freedom” for their pro-Palestinians views have been indicted for using their university offices to direct and finance terrorist activity.
Yet most New Yorkers are oblivious to this case because The New York Times, let alone most other northern newspapers, has decided not to cover the extraordinary testimony being heard now in a Tampa, Fla., courtroom.
Charged with racketeering, conspiracy, materially aiding terrorists and running the American office of Palestinian Islamic Jihad are Kuwaiti-born Palestinian Sami Al-Arian, former professor at the University of South Florida; Sameeh Hammoudeh, a former instructor at the university; and two Islamic activists, Hatim Fariz and Ghassan Ballut.
The professors are accused of complicity in an Islamic Jihad suicide bombing of a bus in Israel in 1995, one which killed a 20-year-old college student from New Jersey. The prosecution is presenting evidence of their involvement in promoting and funding the terrorist group.

Academics such as Sami Al-Arian know how to talk the PC talk in English in front of the microphone for the media, but they walk the jihad walk in Arabic with their “students” in mosques and political meetings. Protected by tenure and the First Amendment from any consequences, they are swathed in the suffocating layers of political correctness that have become so pervasive in our country. The protective layer covering them now is that of media silence.

But it was not always thus. As the article points out, Sami al-Arian was a media darling not that long ago:
     It’s not that the Times was always reticent about Al-Arian. Three years ago (Jan. 27, 2002) he was the centerpiece of an editorial charging that Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and the University of South Florida “dishonor ideals of public universities by trying to fire Palestinian professor Sami Al-Arian … whose anti-Israel statements have produced threats to campus and a decline in contributions.” Now there are no Times editorials.
Al-Arian was the focus as well of two Times columns by Nicholas Kristof. On March 1, 2002, he wrote that Al-Arian “denounces terrorism” and “promotes interfaith services with Jews,” and warned that “a university, even a country, becomes sterile when people are too intimidated to say things out of the mainstream. … Three exhaustive studies of his conduct have found no evidence of wrongdoing.”
Now that evidence is being presented and Kristof is silent.
These professors have something to teach us all. But are we prepared to learn?

Note: interested readers can find thorough and up-to-date coverage of the trial at The Tampa Tribune.


airforcewife said...

I used to work as a reporter. Something drilled into us was that we would always refer to someone by their name, and put their nickname in quotes.

However, I don't see anyone ever writing Osama "Sami" al Arian. I'm pretty sure it's a concious decision, too.

Baron Bodissey said...

I never knew that Osama was his real name -- thanks for pointing that out. From now on, whenever I write about him, I'll use his full moniker.

A little more silence from the media on that one, hey? Remember how much they hated the fact that the Beltway sniper's name was Muhammad? They would have avoided mentioning that one, too, if they could.