Students Slam Pro-Israel Speaker · 20 January 2005

But welcome professor with 'terror ties'

By Aaron

Students at the Rochester Institute of Technology have been protesting an upcoming lecture, mandatory for some seniors, by pro-Israel Middle East expert Daniel Pipes, while public concerns have not been voiced over another speech, part of the same series, by Ali Mazrui, a professor accused of ties to organizations supporting terrorism.

RIT is featuring the Caroline Gerner Gannett Lecture Series, a seminar for seniors open to all students on "Globalization, Human Rights and Citizenship," that brings to the campus over a dozen guest speakers as well as in-house professors to discuss topics ranging from regional conflict to the conservation of water.

Even though his speech is three months away, students have already written letters to lecture coordinators and the university president demanding Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, a think tank that defines and promotes American interests in the Middle East, be disinvited or appear with a counterpoising speaker, although other Gannett lecturers appear without opposing speakers. An antiwar group has plastered the RIT undergraduate campus with posters protesting Pipes' speech.

Pipes has in the past drawn some fire from Islamic groups for his support of Israel and for exposing several Islamic extremist organizations operating in the U.S.

In one letter to RIT president Dr. Albert Simone, a student writes Pipes is "an individual who makes broad stereotypical generalizations about people of the Muslim faith, such as '15% of Muslims are terrorists,' as well as supporting the concept that the only road to Middle East peace is 'Total Israeli victory' ... How can the Gannett Lecture Series purport to be promoting the academic principles of debate and discussion when it allows his ideas to go without criticism by his peers? If Daniel Pipes does not want to appear with another speaker, then as I see it he doesn't have to come and get paid."

Pipes, who once estimated 15% of Muslims are "Islamists" not "terrorists," has said he would not be interested in speaking with an opposing professor.

"My major purpose in going to universities like RIT is to offer a different point of view from what students usually hear. I dislike the idea of balance because it cuts into my time and it implies that my views need to be wrapped and controlled," said Pipes.

Dr. Paul Grebinger, professor of Anthropology and coordinator of the Gannett series, agreed.

"It is often valuable to hear from individuals whose ideas we may oppose and whom we may not even like. I expect that Pipes will draw representatives from the Islamic community here on campus and from Rochester. They will no doubt be asking very pointed questions. So, I don't expect any lack of debate."

Last week, a poster distributed throughout the campus sponsored by the RIT Antiwar Group headlined "Islam is not the problem" called Pipes a "racist" and declared, "The real problem is the occupation of Iraq and the U.S. support of oppressive regimes in the Middle East. Stop the scapegoating of Arabs and Muslims!"

The group justified their "racist" label by quoting an article in which Pipes wrote, "The outside world should focus not on showering money or other benefits on the Palestinian Arabs, but on pushing them relentlessly to accept Israel's existence."

One RIT professor who asked that his name be withheld for fear that he "may lose his job" called the posters "idiotic. There is nothing remotely close to being racist about that statement. Pipes is the only thing approaching a non-leftist perspective on this campus, it wouldn't kill these students to hear an opposing view. None of the liberal speakers need balancing counterparts."

Dr. A.J. Cashetta, a professor of language at RIT told WorldNetDaily "I have never heard anyone here complain before that a speaker needed a counterbalanced idea, and now suddenly we have Pipes and people are complaining?"

Meanwhile, another Gannett lecturer, Dr. Ali Mazrui, who has repeatedly made anti-Israel comments, spoke at an Islamic extremist institution and is accused of ties to groups supporting terrorism, has escaped student criticism.

Mazrui, director of the Institute of Global Cultural Studies at Binghamton University, is on the board of the Association of Muslim Social Services, whose sister organization, the International Institute of Islamic Thought, a Saudi-funded Islamic group, was raided by the FBI in 2003. The executive secretary for the AMSS, Kamran Bokhari, was the North American spokesman for Al-Muhajiroun, a UK-based fundamentalist organization that disbanded in October under intense pressure by the authorities because of the group's suspected ties to al-Qaida. Al-Muhajiroun members have become suicide bombers for Hamas, fought U.S. troops in Aghanistan, held rallies calling for the "death of America," and publicly supported the charge of Osama bin Laden.

Mazrui lectured last year at the International Center for the Propagation of Islam in Durban South Africa. According to Militant Islam Monitor, the Center is funded by the bin Laden family and organizations linked to al-Qaida, and its founder and director, Ahmed Deedat, has publicly boasted of meeting bin Laden personally several times.

Mazrui recently wrote a paper, "The State of Israel as Cause for Anti-Semitism," and presented a lecture at Binghamton that a student called "a 45-minute diatribe against Israel" equating Zionism with fascism, Israel with apartheid South Africa and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon with Hitler. Mazrui also expressed support for Sami Al-Arian, a South Florida professor indicted for raising money for the Islamic Jihad terror group, calling him "a victim of prejudice and of popular ill will."

In an Question and Answer series, Mazrui implied Muslims are being isolated from American politics by pro-Israel Jews. "In the case of Hillary Clinton for example she was under pressure from pro-Israeli anti-Muslim New Yorkers. It was vital that American Muslims should not let those forces prevail and should keep on trying to enter the system ..." wrote Mazrui.

Beila Rabinowitz, director of Militant Islam Monitor, told WorldNetDaily, "It is a travesty of the war on terror that we are hearing calls for halting the lecture of Dr. Daniel Pipes, the distinguished Middle East expert, while no one is demanding that the RIT administration scrutinize the scheduled lecturer Ali Mazrui, who plays leading roles in radical Islamist organizations."

Mazrui, in an interview with WND, countered, "I'm not spying on the AMSS to find out who else is involved with them and whether they are kosher. Also, about the university in South Africa, I have to find out who funded it. But I don't agree with this guilt by association policy."

American universities hosting speakers connected to terrorism is nothing new. In December, WND exposed Nova Southeastern University was hosting a fundraising concert for the Islamic Relief, a charity connected to several organizations that support terrorism, is under investigation for accepting a contribution from a front group for al-Qaida, and was founded by the principle fundraiser for Muslim Aid, which according to Spanish police used funds to send mujahadeen to fight U.S. troops overseas and has held events at which speakers have boasted of supporting al-Qaida terror activities.

And in October, Duke University hosted a Palestinian solidarity conference ­ cleared by the FBI and Homeland Security ­ in which students were recruited to join the International Solidarity Movement, a terror-supporting group that has harbored terrorists in their Middle East offices and is outlawed in Israel.

David Horowitz, author and editor-in-chief of FrontPage Magazine, told WorldNetDaily the groups protesting Pipes and similar groups at universities throughout the country "are left-wing groups - often self-styled Marxist-Leninist vanguards - who regard the United States as the Great Satan, view the terrorists as 'liberators' and want us to lose the war on terror."


Aaron Klein is WorldNetDaily's special Middle East correspondent, whose past interview subjects have included Yasser Arafat, Ehud Barak, Shlomo Ben Ami and leaders of the Taliban.