Last week it was reported that major supporters of Brandeis University have cut off their donations in retaliation for the university's hosting of Israel and American-Jewry basher and former president Jimmy Carter on campus.
Carter was invited to the American Jewish university shortly after fourteen Jewish members of an advisory board at the Carter Center resigned their positions in light of Carter's malicious attacks on Israel and tolerance of Palestinian slaughter of Israelis in his recently published diatribe Palestine Peace Not Apartheid.
Although the recent storm of protest over Brandeis's willingness to give legitimacy to Carter and his hostile message has received great attention, it is only the latest in a series of controversial and irresponsible moves that Brandeis has taken over the past year in relation to the war against Israel and the global jihad.
Last January Brandeis hired Khalil Shikaki, head of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, as a senior fellow at its Crown Center for Middle Eastern Studies.
Shikaki is the brother of Fathi Shikaki, founder of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization who was slain in Malta in 1995. He was recruited to Brandeis by Shai Feldman, who heads the Crown Center and formerly directed Tel Aviv University's leftist Jaffee center for Strategic Studies.
Shikaki's ties to Islamic Jihad go far deeper than his blood ties to its founder and first terror master. Terrorism expert Steven Emerson detailed Shikaki's deep links to the terror group in a dossier he compiled and published on his Investigative Project website last year.
Emerson demonstrated that Shikaki was instrumental in setting up Islamic Jihad's network in the U.S. in the late 1980's and early 1990's. He also played a central role in transferring funds to terror cells in Judea, Samaria and Gaza through early 1995.
In 1990, Shikaki was appointed director of the World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE), a think tank set up at University of South Florida in Tampa by Sami al-Arian. The FBI has concluded that WISE served as a "front organization" for Islamic Jihad.
Arian was indicted in October 2003 for financing, fundraising and promulgating the ideology of Islamic Jihad in the U.S. Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, the current head of Islamic Jihad, also worked at WISE with Shikaki and al-Arian. During al-Arian's trial (he was acquitted of eight of the 17 charges in his indictment), federal prosecutors presented wiretapped conversations regarding al-Arian's activities on behalf of Islamic Jihad. These conversations directly implicated Shikaki in transferring funds from the U.S. to Judea, Samaria and Gaza for the use of terror cells.
In light of Shikaki's links to Palestinian terrorists, Morton Klein, national president of the Zionist Organization of America (of which Brandeis's namesake, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, once served as president), recommended that Brandeis donors "rethink their support for Brandeis if the university fails to address their concerns [about Shikaki's links to terrorism] in a timely and appropriate manner."
Klein has also stated that if it wishes to retain Shikaki in spite of his known past links to Islamic Jihad, the Jewish university should demand first that he apologize for his past support for the terror group and openly condemn by name Islamic Jihad, Hamas and all other Palestinian terrorist organizations. Furthermore, Klein stated, Shikaki should openly declare his recognition and support of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.
Feldman, who brought Shikaki to Brandeis, responded to ZOA's protests by rejecting ZOA's right to raise the issue. In an interview with the Brandeis school newspaper Feldman said, "I don't deal with Mort Kleins and I don't deal with the Zionist Organization of America."
Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz also refused to contend with the documentary evidence linking Shikaki to the Islamic Jihad. He deflected the criticism of Shikaki by accusing Klein and ZOA of "Jewish McCarthyism."
Then, in December 2006, Natana DeLong Bas, a lecturer at Brandeis's Near Eastern and Jewish Studies Department, was vacationing in Saudi Arabia when she gave an interview to a reporter for the London pan-Arab daily Al Sharq Al-Awsat. DeLong Bas told the newspaper that she does "not find any evidence that would make me agree that Osama bin Laden was behind the attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. All we heard from him was praise and acclaim for those who carried out the operation."
This was not the first time the Brandeis faculty member acted as an apologist for jihadists. Indeed, she seems to be making a career out of it. According to a FrontPageMag.com expose of her career, in 2004 she published Wahhabi Islam: From Revival to Global Jihad, awork partially funded by Saudi Arabia that defends the extremist Wahabi strain of Islam that has formed the basis of the belief system of men like Osama Bin Laden and the September 11 hijackers.
DeLong Bas has similarly provided impassioned defenses of the Egyptian-based Muslim Brotherhood which spawned such terrorist organizations as Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and Egyptian Islamic Jihad which, before being fused into al Qaeda, was headed by Bin Laden's deputy Ayman Zawahiri.
Responding to criticism of the university's treatment of the global jihad and the jihadist war against Israel, Reinharz recently protested, "I [do] not want to see Brandeis University become a battleground of the Middle East."
Unfortunately, the main reason Brandeis is today "a battleground of the Middle East" is that under Reinharz's leadership the university has sought to appease anti-Israel voices by giving legitimacy to views that are lies in the hopes of maintaining good standing among a leftist campus public that increasingly refuses to acknowledge the right of Israel to exist. In so doing, Reinharz has allowed his university to become a base for attacking American Jewry and the State of Israel.
What Reinharz fails to understand is that if Brandeis truly wished to be a fount of freedom and liberal inquiry and loyal to its heritage as a "nonsectarian university under the sponsorship of the American Jewish community," it would stop tolerating the likes of Carter, DeLong Bas and Shikaki and their Israeli apologists.
That is, if Brandeis wants to cease to be a "battleground of the Middle East," it should stop allowing its campus to be exploited by those who deny the Jewish people's right to self-determination in its homeland and so lend aid and comfort to those who actively seek to destroy Israel.
Until it does so, critics of Brandeis would be unfaithful to their very American Jewish ideals were they to relent in their pressure on Brandeis to stop hosting hateful, anti-Semitic bigots.
Originally published in The Jewish Press.