Middle East studies in the News
Imam Teaches Propaganda at Diablo Valley College
by Lee Kaplan
Readers who follow academic infiltration by subversives on our college campuses are probably familiar with my previous article about my attendance in Imam Amer Araim's class, Politics of the Middle East 155B, during the last spring semester at Diablo Valley College (DVC), as well as my follow-up article after meeting with DVC's President Mark Edelstein, and Vice President for Academic Affairs Alice Murillo.
So what was the outcome of my investigative reports? Did Diablo Valley College decide to remove Araim from its list of part-time instructors for incompetence or for indoctrinating his students rather than educating them? Did administrators take responsibility for course curriculum taught by the imam or make corrections like they should?
Nope. DVC's administration drew the wagons in a circle instead.
After meeting with college President Mark Edelstein and giving him time to "investigate" the matter, and not receiving a promised response as to the disposition of Araim's teaching courses, and repeatedly not having my phone calls returned, I called college Dean Lyn Krause to ask if Araim was still teaching Politics of the Middle East 155B. I was assured he was not. "The course catalog shows the course is not being offered this semester," I was told. I assumed that Araim, a temporary part-time faculty member, had been removed. But the student who tipped me off to Araim's teaching methods during a previous semester (which spurred me to attend Araim's course) did a little checking and found Araim still on the schedule for the Fall 2005 semester through Spring 2006, only now he was teaching three courses at DVC instead of just one. I called the dean back.
I then learned how things really operate at Diablo Valley College.
You have to hand it to the administrators at Diablo Valley College in Northern California, especially President Edelstein and VP for Academic Affairs Alice Murrillo, but also Sociology Department Dean Lyn Krause and Department Chair John Dravlin. When confronted with an imam who teaches blatant Middle Eastern fabrications against the United States and Israel in his classes, what do they do to take action? They increase his teaching load from one class the previous semester to three, including adding courses in Introduction to U.S. Government!
What's wrong with Araim, a Muslim imam, teaching Introduction to U.S. Government to lower level college students? Aside from the fact he may not even be a U.S. citizen (something the college district refused to reveal), the man has a track record of conveying to his students the impression that American foreign policy is only a matter of duplicity and opportunism against the Muslim world. He lauds democracy coming to the Middle East, but America gets no credit for it. What's more, Araim has no background in teaching or research on the U.S. government on his resume. A former diplomat for Saddam Hussein, his Ph.D. dissertation was on OPEC and the economics of oil.
When I attended his lecture, some of the juicier bits of knowledge imparted to students at DVC in Politics of the Middle East 155B included:
1) Israel is an "apartheid state" was taught repeatedly every session. (Israel is a pluralistic democracy with equal civil rights for all its citizens and does not practice apartheid like South Africa).
7) Israel is a "colonial state" (It was set up by the United Nations much like the Arab states, colonies of Great Britain that were set up after World War I and is not a colony)
8) U.N. Resolution 242 says that all land in the West Bank belongs to the Arabs (it does not say that per its author, Eugene Rostow).
9) Israel initiated all wars against the Arabs who were victims of Israeli aggression (the Arab League has refused to make peace with Israel for nearly 50 years).
10) The Sheba Farms region of Israel, an area Hezbollah uses as a reason to carry out terrorist attacks on Israel, belongs to Lebanon (the U.N. even signed off on the area as belonging to Israel when it withdrew from Lebanon in the 1980's).
11) According to the student who originally tipped me off to the class, Araim also stated that Saddam Hussein did not gas the Kurds, the Iranians did it.
12) The United States is "hypocritical" in its approach to democracy in Arab states such as Jordan and elsewhere.
13) Araim also provided reading material that claimed that reform Jews practice the Sabbath on Sunday (it's Saturday) and suggests that Jews are not the same as "Zionists."(This separation of Jews from Zionism is used by anti-Israel advocates to claim they are not really anti-Semitic).
14) Tiny Israel intends to conquer all the lands from the Nile River to the Euphrates in Iraq (we were given a one-hour lecture during the last class with this conclusion).
15) Sharia, or Islamic Law, as state law is compatible with democracy (despite its misogyny and denigration of religious minorities).
The Arab newsreel footage I screened in class was filmed in Iraq while Araim worked for Saddam Hussein in 1972 and showed Jews being hanged publicly in Baghdad was "propaganda" according to Araim, who denied the accuracy of the film while telling students that false history taught in a PLO propaganda film he presented earlier was based on actual facts. Araim had a habit in class of making personal attacks and calling me a "propagandist" when confronted with errors of fact or untruths, a highly unprofessional practice for a college instructor.
And Araim allowed information from Arab Internet websites to be presented in class as factual. But they were based more on totalitarian propaganda than facts. In lecturing on the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Araim stated that the organization, set up by Islamic countries to oppose Israel, was started after "Zionists set fire to the Al Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem." He got this information off the OIC website. In fact, a fire was set at the Al Aksa Mosque by a Christian tourist from Australia who had a history of mental illness and who was arrested by Israeli authorities and prosecuted. In another instance, Araim allowed a student during his presentation on Palestine to state the Palestinians were over 3,000 years old as a nationality and culture. This is untrue and something the student admitted he obtained from an Arab website without scholarly verification.
Araim's third class is titled International Relations Now, and may simply be a renaming of the course I exposed earlier, and possibly a place where Araim will again be free to teach students factually incorrect information about the Middle East.
It is possible that Araim knows no better, and was teaching from his "perspective" no matter how untruthful, as DVC President Mark Edelstein tried to claim in our meeting? If that was the case, he is at best--as an academic--incompetent. More likely, Araim's teaching is a way to indoctrinate students in his personal political goals against United States' foreign policy and against Israel in general. Claiming ignorance on Araim's part (as weak a defense as any) does not explain, however, his dissembling when confronted with the truth.
According to Dean Krause, who has advised me that he considers me a "troublemaker," "Araim was retained because there is a shortage of teachers available, and his ‘evaluations were all good.'" These included evaluations by students and fellow faculty members. Most students' knowledge of Middle East history and even current events can be questionable when it comes to their being under the influence of an instructor with an agenda. I asked Dean Krause, "As for fellow faculty members, how would they evaluate Araim's course content when they did not attend the class?" It seems Araim is a popular fellow and rather charming. Araim is alleged to have obtained his position from contacts made through an interfaith group located in the DVC's college district. The validity of course material or balance is irrelevant if one is a popular instructor.
Department Chair John Dravlin explained Araim's retention is because he has a Ph.D. from the State University of New York and because he used to work for the United Nations. "He's overqualified for what we have," Dravlin explained to me. "Most of our instructors are only required to have a master's degree." When I told Dravlin that I could produce an article by another Arab Ph.D. that said that Jews use the blood of Christian children to make matzoh and that the United Nations is corrupt, half of it composed of dictatorships (like Araim's former country under Saddam Hussein) and that Mohammar Gaddafi is on the Human Rights Commission, he claimed he had to dash to a meeting.
I decided to do a little more research on Araim. It seems he earned his Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Binghampton. His dissertation was on the economics of oil and he is an expert on OPEC. He has no academic background in his resume on studies in U.S. government. In fact, as mentioned, the college administration refused to even tell me if he is a U.S. citizen.
Since he was teaching International Relations also, I checked what he did at the United Nations. He had worked as a diplomat for Saddam Hussein apparently (a good impartial educational background) but later left the dictator's diplomatic corps to work for the United Nations as a "political affairs coordinator" dealing with "apartheid and colonialism" and had participated in the Durban Conference on Racism. "Political Affairs Coordinator" is a fancy title used by totalitarian groups for "propagandist." The United States was forced to withdraw from the Durban Conference because it was turned into an anti-Semitic diatribe against Israel's right to exist, which explains a lot about Araim's sentiments in the class room.
I visited DVC to see if I could find a student in Araim's International Relations class who might reveal what Araim was teaching, but all those I could speak to were fearful of getting a bad grade by cooperating. While on campus, I picked up a copy of the student newspaper, the Inquirer. There, plastered on the front page, was a photo of Araim with the Headline "Bias War in DVC Classroom."
It seems that the campus editor in chief, Harrison Farr, a student, took great umbrage at my reporting on Araim's teaching to DVC students. He even ran a cartoon of a gorilla representing me sitting in the middle of a classroom of students. He felt my questioning Araim about his teaching, or pointing out that things being taught were not true, was "disruptive" of the learning experience. At one point in his published interview with Araim, Farr asked if it was true that Araim had grown angry and called me a "propagandist" in class when he denied that women are stoned to death in Iran. Araim was said to have replied to Farr in the interview that he had not seen reports about women being stoned in Iran, information readily available in mainstream media. Araim still would not concede the truth. And this guy teaches a survey course on the Middle East?
Perhaps Araim should read a newspaper. And so should Vice President for Academic Affairs Alice Murillo, who is ultimately responsible for Araim's course load being increased. During the meeting she attended between me and DVC President Edelstein she mentioned that she did not know that women are even stoned to death in Saudi Arabia or that Christians and Jews are persecuted there. Murillo was quoted in the campus paper as saying about Araim, "I respect my faculty and their decisions. This is up to the faculty and the Dean." Administrative oversight doesn't concern Murillo, who recently came under fire from education reporter Matt Krupnick of the Contra Costa Times newspaper on October 1, 2005, for canceling due to budget restraints a machinist training course that provided permanent full-time jobs for local DVC students. She apparently found money in her budget, though, to increase Araim's course load and salary.
At Diablo Valley College, apparently among the administration and student newspaper staff, classroom and source material are not for the purpose of learning truth. Rather, students are to regurgitate whatever the teacher says. That's called indoctrination and is the core of the problems in the Middle East today.
Araim is a member of the Inter-faith Council of Contra Costa County. He may have come to his job through relationships he honed in the Inter-faith group as an imam in the county where Diablo Valley College is located. People affiliated with DVC also belong to this Inter-faith group. In a letter to campus editor Farr, Araim protested that he could not be considered anti-Semitic or anti-Israel because he belonged to such a group--where he worked well with Jewish clergy. I decided to do a little investigating.
I contacted some of the rabbinical members of the Contra Costa Inter-faith Group to ask them about Araim. Was I unfair to the man? Was he merely incompetent in teaching the standard anti-Israel and anti-U.S. rants of the Middle East of his origin as facts in class, or did he know what he was doing? Was he dissembling?
The first rabbi I contacted insisted his name not be used, but told me, "Araim has a habit of constantly bringing in statements, even within the group, that Israel is an 'apartheid state.' " He continued, "The one thing about Araim is he is of the mindset that tribalism trumps everything when it comes to facts or information." In other words, to Araim, the goals of the Arab-Muslim world are more important than truth. The rabbi sent me an article by Araim in the Inter-faith group's newsletter in which Araim repeatedly accuses Israel of falsely being an "apartheid state" like South Africa, the same tired line he promoted during his stint with the United Nations and in DVC's classroom.
The next rabbi was not so shy. "He's a very unsavory person," Rabbi Roberto Gratz said. "He uses his position to attack Israel and Jews in a dissembling manner." Gratz sent me a different article by Araim from the April, 2004, Inter-faith newsletter, "Ministering Together," titled "‘The Passion of the Christ,' a Muslim View." Araim wrote in reply to a letter to the Inter-faith journal in which a reader suggested that remembering Jesus' suffering should lead people to examine how religious authority is exercised, rather than creating a vendetta against the Jews. Araim presented a "Quarnic view" of the issue by writing:
"The Quran states: 'Because of their (the Jews at the time) speaking against Mary a tremendous calumny, and because of their saying, "We slew the Messiah Jesus son of Mary, Allah's messenger," they slew him not, nor crucified, but appeared unto them, and lo! Those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof-they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain. But Allah took him up unto Himself. Allah was ever Mighty Wise…"
Just after 9/11, the Inter-faith Council held a rally in a civic park in Walnut Creek, California. Araim was asked by some of the rabbis to debunk the claim put forth by the Arab press immediately after the attack that 500 Jews did not go to work that day in the World Trade Center because they had advance knowledge of the act (which, according to those same Arab sources, was really perpetuated by Israel). Araim refused to do so claiming there was "no time." Does this guy really belong in a college classroom?
In fairness to Araim, the current head of the Inter-faith Council defended him. But when pressed about the comments from other rabbis as to information above, he said, "We're trying to moderate him." Why should Araim need "moderating" if his conduct is sincere?
Aside from issues of subtle religious prejudice in an Inter-faith group where Araim can be very charming to those who will listen to his digs at Israel and U.S. policy in Iraq, he attended a forum focus on the Middle East that was covered also by education reporter Matt Krupnicki of the Contra Costa Times on November 15, 2002. In the article, Araim, the adjunct professor of political science at Diablo Valley College, is quoted as saying that the United States gave Saddam Hussein nuclear weapons!
But, hey, who cares, it's his perspective that's being taught to students, and that has as much validity as the truth according to President Edelstein at DVC and other administrative staff.
A few more years of this attitude nationwide and our educational system will be as good as those of Saudi Arabia or Iran.
Filmmaker Pierre Rehov has produced several films using Arab visual news media. In his most recent release, Hostages of Hatred, he shows a clip of an imam on Palestinian television who exhorts for the ultimate dismantling of Israel by good Muslims. In that one clip is a somewhat recognizable younger imam--Amer Araim.
But of even greater interest is some new information not available in my first two articles: The student who tipped me off to Araim's teaching methods had previously asked to remain anonymous. His family had actually been part of the Jewish Agency in 1948 that founded Israel and he brought to class original historical documents that proved Araim's presentations in class regarding Israel were false. Araim simply dismissed the documentation as "propaganda" and refused to allow the class to see it. After the student complained, Araim claimed the student had made "death threats" against him. The student denies this. Araim never filed a police report nor documented such threats even after being advised by the fean to do so. DVC never pursued the matter either because Araim did not want them to. And the student, Peter Friedman, was offered a "B" grade and told he no longer needed to return to finish the class.
In 2005, when I was enrolled in Araim's same course and he learned halfway through it that I was an investigative journalist taking his course to see if Friedman's assertions were true, Araim invented new accusations again against this ex-student. Araim claimed his home was called and the lives of both his wife and himself were threatened.
I missed one class that semester when I covered the class. One of the students in the class told me on my return that while I was gone, Araim had told a similar tale in the classroom about me: that I had made death threats against him and his wife. When I returned to class the following week, I confronted Araim and asked if he had accused me in front of the class while I was absent. Araim stuttered, then denied he had accused me of making any death threats. He said Peter Friedman, the student who told me about his course, had just done so again in the current semester right after I exposed myself as investigating his course. Friedman has decided to come out of the closet as a result of this and engaged an attorney to send a letter to Araim to cease and desist his false accusations. I recorded Araim saying this while taping my class notes that evening and readers can view all letters sent to the dean about the false accusations here.
Apparently Araim has no qualms about making up stories of death threats by students who expose his teaching false information in class. Once again, the dean asked him if he reported these new threats to campus police and Araim declined to do so. Front Page readers can see that letter given to the dean by Araim himself in 2005 "for the record." In it, he goes on to accuse me of preventing "any serious effort to present a factual assessment of what is going on in the Middle East."
A factual assessment? Anyone can research the items listed above or in my other articles about DVC and what Araim taught about Israel in class and see for themselves facts are not his forte. It would seem that Araim knows how to use working with Jewish organizations as a means to subtly promote his anti-Israel agenda. Dissembling the truth and manipulations to gain sympathy seem to be a talent Dr. Araim excels at even outside the classroom--until someone exposes him.
While not going to the campus police, Araim did meet with members of the Jewish Federation and asked them to defend him from alleged death threats by Peter Friedman. Friedman was not notified of the meeting, nor were the police. When I interviewed some of the attendees who were at the meeting, they advised me that they did not find Araim credible and it seemed as if he was trying to manipulate the Jewish leaders to perceive him as a victim so he could continue his activities.
Hugh Fitzgerald of Jihad Watch has written about "Inter-faith" groups being used by imams in the United States: "Those ‘inter-faith groups' are invariably the tool of Muslims, who use them for the purposes of presenting more wool over more Infidel eyes, of engaging in outwardly sympathetic, and inwardly deeply deceptive and hostile, acts toward Infidels, who are being placated only in order to keep everyone from studying too closely what Islam is all about, and to maintain those conditions in which Muslims can establish themselves, or to use the power of inveigled Infidels (including an appeal to a phony "Arab-American" identity, a transparent attempt by Muslim Arabs to exploit the larger numbers, and far greater acceptance in American society, of the descendants of the Christians of the Middle East, especially Maronites and Copts, whose own ancestors came here precisely in order to flee the persecution by Muslims) to their own malevolent ends." Araim's actions are likewise subtle when he gets a captive audience, be it in the classroom or at an Inter-faith meeting where he accuses Israel of being an "apartheid state."
It is bad enough that an incompetent or intentionally deceptive instructor was not removed, nor at least monitored by senior faculty and administration to prevent him from teaching misinformation. But for Diablo Valley College to seek to expand the man's exposure to the student body with more courses is inexcusable. DVC will not allow anyone neutral to audit Araim's classes, even just to take notes without participation to determine if he has changed or improved his teaching methods. I offered to do it by only reporting discrepancies to the dean and not speaking out in class, but to no avail.
How many students being taught information about the Middle East, let alone faculty members at DVC, know about Amer Araim? The administrators at Diablo Valley College do not, nor do they care.
Apparently an instructor-shortage at DVC and a Ph.D. mean students will continue to be misinformed. Business as usual . . .
About the Writer: Lee Kaplan, a political writer, columnist, and activist, is a contributing editor for Frontpage Magazine. He is active with DAFKA, Stop the ISM, and the Club Cruz television program, and resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lee receives e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.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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