An open letter to Harvard University

Category: Americas, World Affairs Topics: Anti-Semitism, Occupation Views: 1725

As an American physician who spent an exhausting and sleepless summer in Beirut during Sharon's "Man of Peace" horrifying siege of the city in 1982 removing shrapnel and bullets from bodies of innocent Lebanese and Palestinian women, children, and the elderly; all made in America and delivered by American tax funded weapons in the hands of Sharon's "Defense" forces; I don't recall any outrage from President Lawrence Summers, nor read any opposition from Professor Rita Goldberg, nor the National Review, nor the Wall Street Journal, nor any Jewish American organization, nor from the "Christian" Evangelists, nor from our government that gave the green light to Sharon to invade Lebanon (by Alexander Haig), nor from Congress. Even when the Israeli government led by Menachem Begin, a former terrorist and Nobel Peace Prize winner (he admits to his terrorism in his autobiography, including the massacre of the entire village of Deir Yassin) found Sharon negligent in his duty during the three day massacre by "Christian" Lebanese Phalangist in the camps of Sabra and Chatila, none of the above mentioned spoke out against Sharon's "war crimes" as defined by the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Yet a simple lecture by an award winning Irish poet, Mr. Tom Paulin, enraged President Summers, some faculty and students, a total of 120 out of Harvard's entire population, was enough to intimidate the English Department to cancel Mr. Paulin's lecture according to Alexandra M. Atiya's article: "Controversial Poet Will Not Give Lecture: English department reacts to concerns over extreme pro-Palestinian views" (Nov. 13, 2002). Some may not agree with Mr. Paulin's characterization of Israel's brutal occupation, and yes the killing of innocent Palestinian children as documented by Amnesty International, our own State Department, Human Rights Watch, the International Red Cross, and Israel's own human rights organizations, media, and physicians. But the outrage is that Harvard's President has used his academic position of the country's leading university to become Israel's own lobbyist and personal "Anti-Defamation League." He has lashed out at academicians and student organizations who support a dialogue for peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an end to Israel's illegal and brutal occupation of 35 years, a dismantling of settlements inhabited mainly by fanatical armed Jewish Americans subsidized by American taxpayers, and support Israel's implementation of over 60 U.N. Security Council Resolutions since 1948 that Israel has defied, ignored due to the influence of Jewish lobbies and individuals such as President Summers. The same lack of defiance by Iraq of only 13 U.N. Resolutions is enough for Bush to annihilate Iraq. 

Does President Summers recall when Jewish Americans were not allowed to enter Harvard, clubs, or have the freedom of speech to defend themselves? Is Freedom of Speech today ethnically and politically defined? Where was President Summers when Professor Alan Dershowitz advocated the total destruction of Palestinian villages in response to bombings in Israel as a deterrent force? Would he cancel a speech if given by an Israeli politician espousing the total "transfer" of Palestinians, including Israeli Arabs, if 120 Harvard faculty and students protested? I don't think so. 

"Anti-Semitism" has become America's intimidating "Scarlet Letter" used to silence and intimidate anyone worldwide who has the courage, humanity, sense of justice and peace for both Israeli's and Palestinians to criticize Israel or point out its military brutality. As often said here and abroad, there is no such thing as "free speech" when it comes to Israel, which only prolongs the suffering of both peoples. Our Congress panders to the money and power of Jewish lobbies (Read: "Jewish Power" by JJ Goldberg; "They Dare to Speak out" by Congressman Paul Findley, "The Passionate Attachment" by George Ball, or see and 

It is such influence and power that has been complicit in supporting Israel's vision of annexing all Palestinian land and Jerusalem, a city of three faiths becoming for "Jews" only. It is such power that has made the United Nations irrelevant with the U.S. casting dozens of vetoes to protect Israel even from Resolutions it supported. Our own State Department has become Israel's own "Better Business Bureau" and Complaint Department looking after Israel's interests above all others, including Americans held and tortured in Israel. 

Despite Mr. Paulin's "extremist" views, with similar views shared by the world outside of the "protected" United States, even Israeli's, it would have been an opportunity for free dialogue on his views and on the conflict. Prohibiting such dialogue is an injustice to academic freedom, education, debate, search for truth and justice, and above all a shame to Harvard run by a President intent on protecting Israel at all costs lest the truth becomes apparent and Harvard's community awakens to the Holocaust persecuted Jews becoming the persecutors of another race innocent of guilt. Such closed minds today will lead to further deaths of Israeli and Palestinian human beings. Only American independence of Israel's influence will ever lead to peace and security for Israel and a Palestinian state. 

According to Harvard's President, academic free speech applies only when Palestinians die, not when Israel is simply criticized. It's time Harvard's alumni, faculty, and students determine if they want such a President to lead America's foremost university.

Shalom, Peace, and Salaam

Dr. Mohamed Khodr is a freelance writer who regularly writes on Middle East politics, Islam, and U.S. Foreign Policy

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  27 Comments   Comment

  1. Grendizer from UK

    Fred..why dont you stop trying to smear the article ? Its obvious you yourself have NOT read the article.

  2. fred lapides from US

    The writer doth protest too much. If he would take the time to read the speech, the president of Harvard is asking that there be a halt to anti-semitism. He is not closing down debate on Palestinian issues. He is addressing American colleges.

    As for the English Dept: Paulin is an asshole who has said Israel has no right to exist. Ok. fair enough. Ireland should remain under British rule and has no rught to exist.

  3. Mohammad from Germany

    As long as So called muslim represent us, we muslims should not think on these issues. Human rights and freedom is meant for Jews and Americans.



  5. Jack Ball from usa

    Fred you're the one who is confused...or rather afraid of facing facts...thats probably why you resorted to the old "anti-semetic" excuse.

    Stick to the topic without resorting to the convienient anti-Arab anti-semetism.

  6. Abdul Qaadir from South Africa

    I could not agree more with the respected Dr Khodr.I sincerely hope letters of this nature are more forthcoming from like minded and sensible people.Maybe,just maybe,the elements with blinkers on will start to think more seriously.After all,till when is the world supposed to be put on hold everytime someone says something of substance and is branded anti-semitic.

    I sometimes wonder,are we really living in the same planet.

  7. Yazid from USA


    Dr. Mohamed Khodr obviously does not get it...nor does this UMMAH!

    The US is a christian country ran by CHRISTIANS! Christians believe that the Jews MUST inherit Isreal for THEIR version of the end of days to occur!


    The haram dynasties in the mid-east posess the resources and means to remedy the situation...but the will not because it requires them to give to the people what is rightfully theirs.


    The solution to Muslim problems....lay in Muslim hands!

  8. fred lapides from US

    I had thought from a reading of the president's speech (Harvards's Dr. Summer) that he was warning against anti-senmitism and not seeking to silence dissenting views about the Middle East. The writer here seems confused about this so quickly switches to the hate-mongering Irish poet. Would a Jewish leader be allowed to denounce Islam at a university in Saudi Arabia?

  9. Hal Green from USA

    American values are changing for the worse; freedoms once thought inviolable are being downgraded - the judicial system of holding prisoners w/o trial; curtailing free speech; unwarranted searches..and on. What made this country great is slowly eroding for the sake of supporting an abstract war on terrorism -something that's being used as a vehicle to pave the road to new forms of colonialism and imperialism under the banner of changing regimes. This is the "Humble America" that Bush promised?

    And it, when you look deep enough into it, is being geared to serve the interests of a little entity thrust like a thorn in the throats of the Arabs. I say work with both sides. Why this glaring, blatant, and profligate support to Israel while shunning all the Arab countries? Do we only profit from Israel alone and not from the rest? Can we honestly sell this doctrine to the world and expect wide approval, or has our arrogance become so unbridled that we don't care what the world thinks?

    The Romans thought like that, and where are they now; did their military might perpetuate them? They even lasted 2000 years, how long can we last defying international will at this rate. Might, weapons, and arrogance never, never, gave nations long-lasting glory; rather, wisdom and fair-mindedness especially from superpowers help us all co-exist.

  10. M. Coward from Canada

    Not worth replying too.

    So often when a person reads an article that is not worth replying to, (often because it is obviously fanatical propoganda, that no takes seriously except those few who can't see past their own bigotry). The unfortunate thing is, that when no one bothers to reply it makes those fanatics think that somehow they made a good point. Or that everyone must be in agreement. Please, give us a break.

  11. Hamza from singapore

    Indeed, quite heartening to see from responses submitted that there are people who see the truth and that objectivity is sustained by the filters of integrity. here`s to gathering momentum to break the inertia of puppetry. God help Palestine for it seems only He can, the rest of us too indirectly afraid of Israel as it plays ventriloquist with Bush.

  12. Mohteshim Kadri from Canada

    A well written letter by Dr.Khodr and well supported by facts. Such work should continue on a regular basis to make the people of north america aware of the double standard practiced by a country which considers itself a champion of peace and justice.

    God bless.

  13. Shuja Syed from Canada

    Well written, well versed, well documented, beautiful analogy. Keep up the good work.

  14. Yousef A Ghosheh from USA

    It is very sad that the country claims to hold the banner of free speach and has lady liberty holding the torch for freedom,this country could need neither feel nor see the sufferings of helpless people subjected to atrocities and aggression of what considered the fifth powerful army, and almost equal to the United States in its armentation and arsenal power. Further, it is too sad to see that the (MOST POWERFUL)government on earth caving to israel"s demands and slaming the face of the entire world in protection of Israel. The irony is, the American Government did not want to understand that Israel is the worst enemy the United States ever has. Every single Jew in the world is fanning the flames of war against Iraq, because it is the israelis interest that no strong government should ever be in the middle east other than israel. at whose expense? of course very preciuos American lives. Iraq will not be the end of the game, israel is beefing up the feelings towards Syria and later to Iran. It is very rediculous that, israel is accusing Syria of having a nuclear program, where at the same time every one n the world know of its nuclear arsinal.

    The porblem lies in the Arab rulers, whose amibitions stiffend their feelings, and for the sake of inheriting their sons their throwns, whether a republic, monorchy or shiekdom, agreed

    to all the atrocities exercised over the Palestinian, and all they do is either blaming the Palestinian for not accepting sharon's agenda, or as the Qatari foreing minister said, do not BEG enough the United States for support, or sending delegates to USA protesting atrocities of modern times Holaco. One would ask, are they naive, stupid or accepting enslavety by the U.S government.

    Finally, It is not surprise me that Mr. Summer's does not remember Harverd's,old days the irony is, the US political system does not want to remember Abraham Franklins warning that jews will enslave the US people if allowed entry to USA.

    Thank you

    Youse Gho

  15. Nazia from USA

    Bismillah Irhamaan Iraheem

    Salaam. This is indeed more evidence for those of us who always have shared the same passion as Dr. Mohamed Khodr in making the comman man aware of apparent, open, and disgusting biases in the USA. This clear case of outright discrimination in awaring the American public of the brutalities (and injust realities) of the Israelis against the Palestinians is repulsive. This nation does chant Free Speech as was fought for by its Founding Fathers, but to them and to the current citizens of this "Free Nation" I say, "Liberty and Justice not for all, but for the Jews." To those who ask me to leave this country, I reply with this is God's land and I'm here as HIS viceregent to first myself understand and follow HIS orders then simulatenously enforce them everywhere. Jazak Allah Khair. Fe Imaan Allah.

  16. john norman from uk

    What a shame that Professor Mohd. Khodr is prepared to walk alongside Tom Paulin who openly advocates the murder of Jews. We are told that Paulin is an Irish "poet" is if that somehow dispenses him from any moral repsonsibility whatever. Would Prof. Khodr keep Paulin company with Mr. Paulin if he advocated the murder of Britons becuase the UK is still, according to some Irishmen, in occupation of Northern Ireland?

  17. gamil m. mosleh from usa

    What has been said is true here. All who aspire justice, fairness and peace to rain in this world think and feel in the same way. Some who are gifted put it in writing so everyone can understand. So much has been written and so much has been said.Just like the saying that a picture is worth more than one thousand words; so is action.What is needed is an action plan after what has been said. A sweat and effort is needed.Untill this madness is stopped.Enough is enough.It is clear now and everything is in the open. We the peace loving people, we the justice loving people, we who does not want to opress must say the truth in the open and stop the few people like the ones at Harvard.It is the few people in every inistitution in this country:From the press secretary of the white house,the deputy secretary of defence,from senate, the house, the department of state jewish americans to name a few not to mention the diferrent lobbing group and the mass media and holywood all working toghter to suppress the truth from coming out.Therefore, the peace loving people,the truth loving people must counter these few but powerful forces.The only way to come the truth of it all is to use the same methods, same tactics and occupying the same posts,That is the name of the game.We must play the same game.Otherwise, we will be talking all the time and they will be working all the time.Only when we reach their level of force and match them can we attain the peace of mind and can we then bargain with tit for tat.Just like Reagan said only with strenght we can achieve PEACE for all the suffering.Allah is Great.There is no god, but Allah and Muhammed is his messanger and prophet.Weselam.

  18. Saleha from Malaysia

    This is a very good and enlighening article for me. Why can't we e-mail this straight to a friend anywhere in the world?

  19. S. Khan from USA

    Our country champions Freedom of Speech throughout the world, then how can we accept the President of one of the premier educational institution, like Harvard violate this very fundamental human right - expression of views. Such action certainly did not bode well for the reputation of Harvard, atleast in my mind.

    The president of Harvard, Mr. Summers needs to explain his rationale of the decision. Hope he does so?

  20. Joe Nash from USA

    I agree with Dr. Khodr. How can there be peace in the the world when there is no freedom to realistically discuss the obstacles to peace. In this case the monsterously unfair foreign policy of the United States government in unconditionally supporting a Racist regime in Isreal and a policy on the part of the current Isreali government that verges on genocide.

  21. Mostansar Virk from usa

    Anyone thinking that Democracy (including all the freedoms that they so proudly proclaim) is a system that we can live by is a dreamer and totally ignores the reality. The fact of the matter is that a man made system CAN NEVER take care of the affairs of mankind in a just manner. There will ALWAYS be prejudices and wrong doing to one side or the other.

    I still can not comprehend why would Muslim organizations and individuals propogate the use of Democracy for Muslims. I will never be able to understand it. Do they not see, sense, and hear the reality?



  22. Charles Jacks from USA

    I think that Summers actions to censor a poet for being pro-Palestinian is an insult to the founding fathers of this county and all the veterans that have fought and given their lives in the defense of human rights. That we have fallen so far as to treat an oppressed and tyrannized people so disrespectfully displays the shear lack of cognitive capacity in the halls of our government and education facilities. Summer should be striped of his PhD and his citizenship for actions unbecoming an American. He lends credence to the world's opinion that we have become a people with neither moral intelligence nor moral fiber. I apologize to the human race that we have allowed such an insult to humanities good judgment to become an educator of our children. May God have mercy on us all.

  23. Hal Green from USA

    Your words were like water that slates my thirst on a July afternoon. Zionists' actions, malevolence, and hateful nature are witnessed by plenty of people around the world except here in America where, I now firmly believe, that just about any resource you could think of is committed in some way or another to serving this entity which has proven to be nothing but a political liability for us here. We are ready to war against all the Arab countries to please a country that has no scruples in spying on, and lying to, us time and again, that has no self-respect to turn down our largess. Where's the logic in disarming every nation in the Mid-East except this treacherous one? How does this serve peace and stability in the area? From their record I would no more trust them than I would Saddam, N. Korea, or any member of the Axis of Evil.

    But what I really loath with unspeakable intensity are the Pro-Israelis who have no less thirst for blood, in spite of their academic grandeur and pomp, than the ravenous IDF themselves. In a nutshell: pro-Israelis want Palestinians, whom they regard as dogs no less than the Zionists themselves do, killed. It's a pogrom committed by the Israelis and condoned by the filth that is personified by Summers and his likes.

    As for the shamful Christian-Zionists who are suporting the Israelis to hasten, as they believe, the second coming of Christ , I just hope Christ comes out soon enough to tell them thanks for siding with the very people who vexed me every step of the way, thanks for turning a blind eye to atrocities committed even against Christians in Israel (read Taking A Stand In Front Of A Church That Takes No Stand -,)thanks for being as guilty as the Zionists, and now you want salvation? Far from it you betrayers.

    Israel is very young, it's history is turbulent and bloody. If it is to survive it must exercise wisdom and foresight not treachery, truth-twisting and might.

  24. Hamid I. Lalani MD from USA

    Please forward this and many other facts to ICC. I hope something will open their eyes, someday.

    Thank you.


  25. Mir Ahmed from USA

    This is an amazingly clear cut article which definitely deserves a clear response from Mr. Summers. The students of Harvard and the media should force either to clarify his position or tender an apology for his actions (in regards to Mr. Tom Paulin and others).

    US is a nation based on equlity and justice for all, regardless of their race or nationality. It is a nation of immigrants and inhabitted by peace and justice level citizens. These kind of irrational and partisan behaviour should be strongly objected to.