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 www.cactus48.com and www.MidEastFacts.com).
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
Related posts from similar topics: