by Stephen Schwartz
Northeastern University in Boston has big ambitions. As a private and popular institution, with more than 20,000 students, it rose from a night school to a commuter college to a leading research facility in health, homeland security, and other public policy issues. But in the academic environment, size and influence often attract unexpected or undesirable elements.
Questions are now asked about anti-Jewish and Islamist attitudes among Northeastern's staff. Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT), a nonprofit group, has produced a new video, "Anti-Semitic Education@ Northeastern University," which concentrates on the University's Middle East Center for Peace, Culture and Development (MEC), headed by political scientist Denis Sullivan.
Sullivan's academic impartiality is clearly doubtful. He has served as an adviser to the Palestinian Authority and was a visiting researcher at Bir Zeit University, in the West Bank. He once led the American branch of the Palestinian American Research Center, an anti-Israel group.
Some of his subordinates appear to have migrated from a leftist political science orientation. Kimberly Jones received her doctorate in public and international affairs from Northeastern in 2011 with a dissertation on the suggestive topic "Constructing the Nation in Opposition: Human Rights as Strategic Building Blocks - A Comparative Analysis of Sinn Fein and the IRA, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas." Jones holds the title "Associate Director, International Affairs & Head Advisor, Middle East Studies NU." She has collaborated in research with Sullivan, according to the latter's curriculum vitae, and has substituted for Sullivan in teaching his undergraduate political science course, "Arab-Israeli Conflict," according to hers.
Sullivan's views on Middle East issues, as revealed by his statements in the new APT video, fit with the radicalism of his colleagues. In perhaps his most inflammatory claim, delivered at a Northeastern lectern in March, 2010 Sullivan declared, "We can say that Hamas is a terrorist organization, sure. They also do great health care and kindergartens." In 2009 he took Northeastern faculty and students on a "Dialogue of Civilizations" junket to the Syria of bloodthirsty tyrant Bashar Al-Assad.
Although the atrocities of the present Syrian civil conflict had yet to begin, Al-Assad was recognized throughout the world as a dictator. In addition to Sullivan's past cooperation with the Palestinian Bir Zeit University, the Northeastern MEC has links to the Palestinian Al-Quds University in Jerusalem and anticipates an agreement with the University of Tehran, Iran.
Other members of Sullivan's Center include an Iraqi instructor in the Arabic language, Shakir Mustafa, who signed a petition supporting the Lebanese terrorist militia Hezb'allah, and Rami Khouri, its "fellow and visiting scholar," from the American University of Beirut, with which the Northeastern MEC also has a partnership.
At the Northeastern MEC this year, Khouri referred to "the pro-Israel narrative which transcends what I think is reasonable ... and then gets into the realm of the fanatic, in terms of their ability to control or influence American government policies."
In sum, Denis Sullivan and his center at Northeastern purvey the fantasy of Jewish control over the U.S. government. Unsurprisingly, Sullivan assigns his students the scurrilous 2007 book by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, perhaps the crudest anti-Jewish product to appear in the Western intellectual marketplace since the Second World War.
APT's new video avers that Northeastern's "administration is supportive of Jewish students in general." Sullivan's Middle East Center advertises programs with Ben Gurion University and includes Prof. Yoav Mehozay, a member of the Criminology Department of the University of Haifa, both in Israel.
But Northeastern has also employed the virulent Pakistani demagogue Muhammad Shahid Alam in its economics department since 1991. Alam is a contributor to the political scandal-sheet CounterPunch, dominated for years by the late and unrepentant Stalinist polemicist Alexander Cockburn. On April 10, 2012, Alam declaimed:
If you are a political figure, they think it is fatal if someone calls them anti-Semitic. But if you are an academic, if you are an activist, if they call you [an anti-Semite] wear that as a sign of distinction. This proves that I am working for the right side, for the just cause.Moreover, until recently, Northeastern employed the radical imam Abdullah Faaruuq. Early in September, the Boston Jewish Advocate reported the release of Faaruuq from unpaid duties as a Muslim imam at Northeastern after fifteen years of religious guidance at the campus.
According to Jewish Advocate reporter Elise Kigner, Faaruuq was removed from leading prayer services at Northeastern following an Advocate article of August 24, 2012 by APT president Charles Jacobs. APT's board of directors also includes Sheikh Ahmed Subhy Mansour, a distinguished critical Islamic scholar who was forced into exile from his native Egypt and now coordinates the Ahl AlQuran International Quranic Center from the United States. Faaruuq remains employed as imam of the Mosque for the Praising of Allah (Masjid Li Hamdi Allah) in Roxbury, a Boston neighborhood.
In a video released on September 5 titled "Islamic Extremism@Northeastern University," APT documented Faaruuq's Islamist activities, including his association in Boston with Pakistan-born, U.S.-educated Aafia Siddiqui, who was sentenced in 2010 to eighty-six years in prison for attempting to shoot American soldiers in Afghanistan in 2008. Siddiqui met Faaruuq at the latter's mosque and assisted him in distributing jihadist literature in prisons where he functioned as a chaplain. After her arrest as a terrorist operative in Afghanistan, Faaruuq was voluble in her defense in Boston, where he publicly described her as "a brave woman."
As shown in the video, Faaruuq also instructed young adherents to Islam in readings from radical Islamist preacher Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, Muslim Brotherhood author Sayyid Qutb (1906-66), and South Asian jihadist Abu'l Ala Mawdudi (1903-79).
The removal of Abdullah Faaruuq from the Northeastern chaplaincy system, previously known as the Spiritual Life Center, and its reorganization as the Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service, were preceded by the resignation from Northeastern in June of then-Spiritual Life Center director Shelli Jankowski-Smith, who worked at Northeastern for eight years, and the departure of Brandy Purcell, the Spiritual Life Center's assistant director. According to APT's video, "Islamic Extremism@Northeastern University," both had been involved with Faaruuq in activities offensive to Jewish students at Northeastern.
Northeastern University allowed the now-absent Abdullah Faaruuq, Denis Sullivan, and Muhammad Shahid Alam to insert radical Islamist ideology and Jew-hatred into its curricula. The germ of extremism is, as yet, limited in its range on campus. But this infection can spread rapidly, and if it does, Northeastern administrators cannot say they were not warned.
Stephen Schwartz is executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism. He wrote this article for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.
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