Middle East studies in the News
Northeastern's Professor of Propaganda [on Denis Sullivan]
by Charles Jacobs
We often hear that college students get a left-wing slant from their professors, especially when it comes to Middle East topics. In a new video from my organization, Americans for Peace and Tolerance, you'll see how.
This is not a film about some campus in California, where Israel and Jewish students are known to be under attack. Rather, it depicts what is happening at one of Boston's finest universities: Northeastern.
The video, hijackedstudies.com, will be up on the Web shortly. It's our third about Northeastern. The first – released last March (hijackingholocaust.com) – showed NU professors transforming Holocaust memorial programs into attacks on Israel and its supporters. Northeastern Provost Stephen Director did not deny any of the abusive behavior we documented. Instead, Director asserted that we "cherry picked" our examples, and exaggerated the problem.
Our second video (nuextremism.com) highlighted the campus' Muslim chaplain and its Muslim student organization, which promotes hate-filled books and events. (Days after our column describing that video, The Advocate reported that the university told the chaplain, Abdullah Faaruuq, it no longer required his services.)
The focus of our latest video is Professor Denis Sullivan, the founder of Northeastern's Middle East Center for Peace, Culture and Development.
No mere "cherry," Sullivan is more like the trunk of the cherry tree. Northeastern's administrators and trustees have stood by for years as this central fount of information about the Middle East at their university has used his position to inculcate students with anti- Western, anti-Israel and, at times, anti-Semitic ideologies. Why?
Sullivan's background should have cast doubt on his scholarly impartiality – as well as his agenda. He is a former advisor to the Palestinian Authority; was a visiting researcher at the radical Palestinian West Bank Birzeit University; and once headed the American branch of the Palestinian American Research Center, an anti-Israel advocacy group.
Under the guise of academic freedom, global understanding and all the other wonderful excuses, Sullivan's Northeastern center is packed with anti-American and anti-Zionist ideologues.
Through his courses, reading assignments, guest speakers and field trips to the Middle East, Sullivan presents Northeastern students with the three core lies that define anti-Israel propaganda: 1. Powerful Jews in America control foreign policy, forcing the United States to support Israel against its own interest.
Sullivan assigns "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy" by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, an article described by the Anti- Defamation League as a biased, unscholarly screed with "elements of classic anti-Jewish conspiracy theories."
The video shows Sullivan propounding the book's conspiracy thesis as gospel, teaching that America supports Israel solely because of the Jewish lobby's power. It also shows one of Sullivan's colleagues at the center Professor Rami Khouri, a Jordanian citizen – concurring: "The pro-Israel narrative … gets into the realm of fanatic in terms of their ability to control or influence American government policies."
2. Israel is a Nazi-like criminal, racist state.
In his course Arab-Israeli Conflict, Sullivan assigns readings by the notorious and discredited Norman Finkelstein. Sullivan's students read Finkelstein's description of Israel as a "Sparta-like society filled with blood lust," where "killing Arabs is a sure crowd pleaser." (It could be worse. Finkelstein is also known for such assertions as: "Zionists indeed learned well from the Nazis. So well, that it seems that their morally repugnant treatment of the Palestinians … reveals them as basically Nazis.")
3. Hamas and other terrorist organizations are legitimate resistance groups.
In the video, you'll see Sullivan telling students: "So we can say this, and Hamas is a terrorist organization, sure. They also do great health care and kindergartens. … Hamas doesn't recognize Israel, so what?"
In fact, Hamas uses its kindergartens as indoctrination factories, instilling children with vicious hatred and enmity toward Israelis and Jews, while promoting love of martyrdom.
Students, braving scholastic and social consequences, appear on the film to offer their reactions. They tell us how Israel is portrayed as "an aggressor and a state that uses terror tactics," and how everything it does is described as "an evil action." Students who dare bring up Israel's security concerns are, they tell us, attacked by professors as being "misinformed" and "lacking humility."
Perhaps the saddest moment in the film is Sullivan's trophy video. In an interview he posted on his own Website to advertise his courses, the professor interviews a naïve young Jewish student. Prodded by Sullivan, she says she is excited by all the "new knowledge" she has gained and now feels confident to confront her pro-Israel mother. A triumph for the professor's Middle East Center – another Jew for the Palestinian cause, paid for by her own parents.
The NU provost, Stephen Director, countered our previous complaints of anti-Jewish bias by offering a list of Northeastern guest speakers (like Michael Oren) who presented positive messages about Jews. One wonders how the provost would react if the Jewish community leaders were not appeased by this sop. If a professor were foolish enough to offend any "respected" (or "feared" – or is that the same thing?) minority group, the provost would assume the proper level of self-abasement in a nano-second. As night follows day, the university would hysterically direct all near and far, top administrators included, into campus sensitivity programs. Indeed, our video documents such a double standard.
During this year's Israel Apartheid Week, the statue of a Jewish trustee was defaced with a "Zionism = Racism" sticker. Last December, the Chanukah menorah was desecrated – apparently not for the first time.
NU President Joseph Aoun did not specifically condemn the anti- Semitic hatred. Aoun spoke in general and abstract terms about not tolerating "any conduct that creates a hostile or intimidating environment for members of our community."
Yet when, in 2006, a black professor, Leonard Brown, got a hateful anonymous voice mail, Northeastern's administration and student senate reacted commandingly. The hateful voicemail was condemned in a number of publications. The administration established a committee on community harmony.
Where is Northeastern's committee on its Jewish problem?
Northeastern professors have told us that for years administrators have been aware of the problems with Sullivan's center, yet took no corrective action.
Sullivan and his colleagues at Middle East Center for Peace are not the only extremists "educators."
Our video shows economics professor Shahid Alam telling a classroom of students: "They call me anti-Semitic because I stand for justice, I stand for the oppressed Palestinians. … But if you are an academic, if you are an activist, if they call you [an anti-Semite] this proves that I am working for the right side, for the just cause. … Don't be afraid of somebody calling you anti-Semitic. Laugh at them." The students applauded.
It's time for the university to stop spinning and evading the problem. It's time for Northeastern's administration to act responsibly as befitting a great university.
The university must place the Middle East Center under the custodial responsibility of the president until it complies with Northeastern's academic standards. Sullivan cannot be allowed to indoctrinate students and promote lies.
Finally, offenses against Jewish students must be condemned with the same vigor as offenses against other minorities.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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