Pressure on Campus

Interest groups successfully stifling academic discourse

By Paul Findley
A Representative of Illinois in the US Congress for 22 years
Excerpted from the They Dare to Speak Out

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The Israeli lobby pays special attention to the crucial role played by American colleges and universities in disseminating information and molding opinion on the Middle East. Lobby organizations are concerned not only with academic programs dealing with the Middle East but also with the editorial policies of student newspapers and with the appearance on campus of speakers critical of Israel. In all three of these areas of legitimate lobby interest and activity, as in its dealings on Capitol Hill, pro-Israeli organizations and activists frequently employ smear tactics, harassment and intimidation to inhibit the free exchange of ideas and views.

As government, academic and public awareness of the Middle East increased following the 1973 OPEC oil price hike, such organizations as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC] and the American Jewish Committee [AJC] developed specific programs and policies for countering criticism of Israel on college campuses.

Making It “Hot Enough” on Campus

Paul Findley played a leading role for twenty-two years as a Republican congressman from Illinois. He was the first congressman to urge normalization of relations with China, and he wrote the Famine Prevention legislation that marshals U.S. universities to challenge world hunger. Findley makes frequent trips to the Middle East, where he has personal acquaintance with most heads of government, and lectures at universities and foreign policy institutes here and abroad. He is the author of They Dare to Speak Out.

In 1979 AIPAC established its Political Leadership Development Program, which trains student activists on how to increase pro-Israeli influence on campus. Coordinator Jonathan Kessler recently reported that in just four years “AIPAC’s program has affiliated over 5,000 students on 350 campuses in all 50 states”:

They are systematically monitoring and comprehensively responding to anti-Israeli groups on campus. They are involved in pro-Israel legislative efforts, in electoral campaign politics as well.

However self-serving and perhaps exaggerated such statements may be, AIPAC works closely with B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation on campuses. When Kessler is introduced to campus audiences, it is as one who has “trained literally thousands of students.” His campus contacts send him tapes or notes from talks that are considered to be “pro-Palestinian” or “anti-Israeli” and alert him to upcoming speaking engagements. Kessler keeps the notes on file and when he hears that a particular speaker is coming to a campus, he sends summaries of the speaker’s usual points an arguments, his question-answer style, and potentially damaging quotes-or purported quotes-from other talks. Kessler specializes in concocting questions with which the speaker will have difficulty and in warning the campus organizers away from questions the speaker answers well.

If the student union or academic senate controls what groups may be allowed to reserve halls, Kessler works to get friends of Israel into those bodies. IF the control is with the administration, speakers are accused of advocating violence, either by “quoting” earlier speeches of by characterizing them as pro-PLO, AIPAC students also argue that certain forums, such as memorial lectures should not be “politicized.” While this may not always bar the speaker, Kessler advises that “if you make it hot enough” for the administrators, future events will be discouraged and even turned down rather than scheduled.

Kessler’s students receive training-through role-playing and “propaganda response exercises”-in how to counter anti-Israel arguments. These exercises simulate confrontations at pro- and anti-Israel information tables and public forums.

Once a solid AIPAC contingent is formed, it takes part in student conferences and tries to forge coalitions with other student groups. AIPAC then has pro-Israeli resolutions passed in these bodies and can run pro-Israel advertisements signed by the (liberal) Americans for Democratic Action and (conservative) Young Americans for Freedom, for example, rather than just by AIPAC. The workshop handout says: “Use coalitions effectively. Try finding non-Jewish individuals and groups to sign letters to the editor, for it is far more effective and credible.”

In 1983 AIPAC distributed to students and faculty around the country a ten-page questionnaire on political activism on their campuses. Its instructions include: “Please name any individual faculty who assist anti-Israel groups. How is this assistance offered? What are the propaganda themes…?” The survey results form the body of the AIPAC College Guide: Exposing the Anti-Israel Campaign on Campus, published in April 1984.

While AIPAC claims to respect the right of all to free speech, number eight on its list of 10 suggested “modes of response” to pro-Palestinian events or speakers on campus reads: “Attempt to prevent.” Number 10 on the same list reads “Creative packaging.” Edward Said, a professor of comparative literature at Columbia University who frequently speaks on campuses in support of the Palestinian cause, described a case of “creative packaging” at the University of Washington where he spoke in early 1983:

They stood at the door of the auditorium and distributed a blue leaflet which seemed like a program but it was in fact a denunciation of me as a ‘terrorist.’ There were quotations from the PLO, and things that I had said were mixed in with things they claimed the PLO had said about murdering Jews. The idea was to intimidate me and to intimidate the audience from attending.

Said reports another experience at the University of Florida, where the group protesting Said’s talk was led by a professor of philosophy:

They tried to disrupt the meeting and [the professor] finally had to be taken out by the police. It was one of the ugliest things, not just heckling but interrupting and standing up and shouting. It’s pure fascism, outright hooliganism.

Another episode involving Said occurred at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. In the fall of 1982 Said spoke, at the invitation of the college’s Department of Religion, on the subject of Palestine and its significance to Christians and Muslims as well as Jews. As the day of the talk approached, the department began to get letters of protest from prominent members of Hartford Jewish community and from Jewish faculty members. Said, said the protesters, was pro-Palestinian and had made “anti-Israel” statements. One writer asked the organizers of the talk: “How could you do this, given the fact that there are two Holocaust survivors on the faculty?”

After Said spoke, more letters of protest arrived at the religion department, and a move was made to deny the department a new $1 million chair in Jewish Studies. The uproar died down after several months, but the protests had their effect. Asked whether the department would feel free, given the reaction of the Jewish community, to invite Edward Said again, a department spokesperson responded, “No, I don’t think we would.”

The AIPAC College Guide also includes profiles of 100 U.S. campuses and the anti-Israel campaign “unprecedented in scope and magnitude” which supposedly pervades them. Anti-Semitism is also cited as a major influence on some campuses. For example, Colorado State University’s campus newspaper, the Collegian, is said to have printed anti-Semitic letters to the editor; but only a letter which “sought to draw attention to the ‘Jewish lobby and the true extent of its influence over the U.S. media’” is cited as evidence.

An example of how the lobby works on campus came in the spring of 1982 when the American Indian Law Students Association (AILSA) at Harvard Law School hosted a conference on the rights of indigenous peoples in domestic and international law. They invited Deena Abu-Lughod, an American of Palestinian origin who worked as a researcher at the PLO mission to the United Nations, to participate in the conference. The Harvard Jewish Law Students Association (HJLSA), which according to one source has an active membership of only about twenty, first asked AILSA to remove Abu-Lughod from the program.

When this failed, the Jewish group protested vehemently to the dean of the law school and also asked the dean of students to consider withdrawing all funding for the conference. The latter refused, saying she was “not in the business of censoring student conferences.” But the dean of the law school, who was slated to give the opening address at the conference, backed out. Several members of the Indian Law Students Association and the director of the Harvard Foundation (which co-sponsored the conference), received telephoned death threats. One came from callers who identified themselves as Jewish Harvard students. Told of these, a member of the HJLSA said, “We were contacted by the JDL [Jewish Defense League], but we didn’t want to have anything to do with any disruption of the conference.”

The conference took place as scheduled, but one organizer recalls:

The atmosphere was incredibly tense. We were really very concerned about Deena’s physical safely and about our own physical safety. WE had seven policemen there. We had many, many marshals and very elaborate security. We had searches at the door, and we confiscated weapons, knives-not pocket knives-but butcher knives. We also had dogs sniff the room for explosives. The point is that the event did occur, but in a very threatening atmosphere.

The following spring, a group of Third World student organizations at Harvard invited the director of the PLO Information Office in Washington, Hassan Abdul-Rahman, to speak on the theme “Palestine: Toad to Peace in the Middle East.” Again the Harvard Jewish Law Students Association organized a demonstration, but this time the protesters packed the hall and actively disrupted the meeting. “It was just an absolute madhouse inside,” recalls one student who was present. “Abdul-Rahman spoke for probably an hour and a half to virtually constant taunting, jeering, insults, screams, shouts, cursing.”

According to the Harvard Law Record, a representative of the Harvard Arab Students Society “struggled” simply to relate a biographical sketch of the speaker and to provide an introduction to his talk. “It was an extremely intimidating atmosphere,” recalls the student:

We just barely kept the lid on things. I think the fact that these events occurred is a testimony to our perseverance, not to the lack of intimidation. Because the intimidation is really very overt and very strong.

In both cases the protesters used material provided by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.

In still another incident at Harvard, a member of the Harvard law faculty who had visited the Israel-occupied West Bank on a tour organized by North America Friends of Palestinian Universities gave a talk on campus after his return. Prior to the talk, a group of students from the Harvard Jewish Law Students Association came to the professor’s office. They told him that they just wanted to make sure he knew “all the facts” before giving his talk, and if hew wasn’t going to give a “balanced” picture, they intended to picket his address.

Recently asked if he altered his talk in any way as a response to the visit by the students, the professor said, “No, but that’s because I knew what was going whether or not they came to my office. I knew they were going to be there and I knew what the situation was.” He added that “the presence of a highly charged group of Jewish law students” changed the nature of his talk “from one that was more directed at what was actually going on for the Palestinians into one that was more abstract and about the relationship between power and knowledge here and there and in a lot of other places.” After the talk, the representatives of HJLSA sent the professor a letter saying they were “very satisfied with the balanced nature” of his presentation. “Which made me think,” he said, “it had been a little to balanced.”

He said the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was “an issue about which we’ve never had a successful, open discussion at this school.” The professor said that, while he didn’t feel intimidated, “I felt that I was operating in a place in which there were limits on what I could say.”

AIPAC is not the only pro-Israel organization to keep files on speakers. The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith keeps its own files. Noam Chomsky, world renowned professor of linguistics at MIT and author of two books on the Middle East, was leaked a copy of his ADL file, containing about a hundred pages of material. Says Chomsky: “Virtually every talk I give is monitored and reports of their alleged contents (sometimes ludicrously, even comically distorted) are sent on to the [Anti-Defamation] League, to be incorporated in my file.”

Says Chomsky:

When I give a talk at a university or elsewhere, it is common for a group to distribute literature, invariably unsigned, containing a collection of attacks on me spiced with “quotes” (generally fabricated) from what I am alleged to have said here and there.
I have no doubt that the source is the ADL, and often the people distributing the unsigned literature acknowledge the fact. These practices are vicious and serve to intimidate many people. They are of course not illegal. If the ADL chooses to behave in this fashion, it has a right to do so; but this should also be exposed.

Student publications are also monitored. When the monthly Berkeley Graduate, a magazine of news and opinion intended for graduate students at the University of California at Berkeley, published in its April 1982 issue several articles critical of Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and his government’s policies, the office of the magazine began to receive anonymous phone calls, generally expressing in crude terms the callers’ opinion of the magazine. One caller suggested that the editor, James Schamus, “take the next train to Auschwitz.” According to Schamus, these calls continued for several weeks.

The campus Jewish Student Board circulated a petition protesting the content of the April issue and characterized the Graduate as anti-Semitic-until it discovered that the editor James Schamus was himself Jewish. Schamus met with Jewish Student Board members and agreed to furnish space in the following issue of the magazine for a 4,000-word rebuttal, but they were not satisfied.

The following week, members of the Jewish Student Board introduced a bill in the Graduate Assembly expressing “regret” at the content of the April issue and stipulating that if an oversight committee were not formed “to review each issue’s content before it goes to press,” steps would be taken to eliminate the Graduate. The assembly voted down the resolution but agreed to revive a moribund editorial oversight committee to set editorial policy. Opponents of the bill, including editors of several campus publications, defended the right of the Graduate to print “without prior censorship.”

The next day, the Student Senate narrowly defeated a bill that would have expressed “dissatisfaction” with the Graduate magazine. An earlier draft of the bill, amended by the Senate, would have asked the Senate to “condemn” the publication. An editorial in The Daily Californian, the university’s main student newspaper, said that such “meaningless censures” came not our of intelligent consideration of an issue, but our of “irrational urgings to punish the progenitor of an idea with which one agrees.”

The May issue of the Graduate did contain a response to Schamus’s original article. The author concluded his piece by calling the April issue of the Graduate “simple, unvarnished anti-Semitism in both meaning and intent.”

Later in May, Schamus left for a two-month vacation. While he was gone, the Graduate Assembly leadership decided by administrative fiat to cut the amount of student funds allocated to the Graduate by 55 percent and to change the accounting rules in such a way that the magazine could no longer survive. Schamus resigned, along with his editorial and advertising staffs. In an interview with the San Francisco Examiner, Schamus said that the series on Begin “directly precipitated our silencing.” He told the Daily Californian: “This whole situation was a plan by student government censors to get rid of the magazine and create a new one in its own image next year.” The chairman of the Graduate Assembly denied any conspiracy. “The Israel issue had absolutely nothing to do with it,” he said. He acknowledged, however, that the controversy over the issue “brought up the question of content in the Graduate.” The Graduate is today little more than a calendar of events that comes out four or five times a year.

Student Editor Under Fire

Another student newspaper editor who learned to think twice before criticizing Israel is John D’Anna, editor of the Arizona Daily Wildcat at the University of Arizona in Tucson during the 1982-83 academic year. In February of 1983, 22-year-old D’Anna wrote an editorial entitled “Butcher of Beirut Is Also a War Criminal,” in which he decried the fact that former Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon was permitted to remain a member of the Israeli Cabinet after being found “indirectly responsible” for the massacre of Palestinian civilians at the Sabra and Shatila camps in Lebanon. If Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie, the infamous “butcher of Lyon” was to be tried for his crimes against humanity, asked D’Anna, “shouldn’t those responsible for the Beirut massacre be tried for theirs?”

D’Anna was shocked at the reaction to his editorial:

My grandparents were the only John D’Annas listed in the phone book, and they were harassed with late night phone calls. I personally got a couple of the type ‘If we ever catch you alone…’ There were threats on my life. I also got hate mail. Some of the letters were so vitriolic it makes me shudder.

There followed a series of letters to the newspaper accusing D’Anna of “irresponsible polemic,” “fanning hatred” and “inciting violence.” The director of the local B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation wrote that D’Anna’s editorial “merely inflames passions, draws conclusions on half-truths and misleads.”

The uproar prompted D’Anna to write an apology in a subsequent issue. He said that while he stood by his beliefs, “I just wish I had expressed those beliefs differently.” He agreed with some of his critics that it was a bad editorial and that he could have made the same points “without arousing passions and without polemic.”

Nevertheless, the day after D’Anna’s apology appeared, members of twenty local Jewish groups wrote to the university president demanding that the Wildcat editor resign or be fired for his “anti-Semitic” and “anti-Israel” editorial. If he was not fired by noon the following Monday, said the letter, the group would tell Wildcat advertisers that the newspaper was “spreading hatred,” in the hope that the advertisers would cancel their ads. The group’s spokesman was Edward Tennen, head of the local Jewish Defense League, a group founded by Meir Kahane, who advocates the forcible expulsion of Arabs from Israel. The JDL is shunned by AIPAC and other Jewish groups.

When the deadline passed without D’Anna’s removal, the group calling for a boycott, having dubbed itself “United Zionist Institutions,” distributed a letter to local businesses and ad agencies urging them to stop supporting the Wildcat’s “anti-Semitic editor” and his “consciously orchestrated bigotry.” Calling D’Anna “an accomplice to PLO aims,” the letter asked the advertisers to “search your consciences and do what you know must be done.” D’Anna noted that the group’s acronym was UZI, the name of the standard issue Israeli machine gun.

Meanwhile, about twenty-five members of local Jewish groups, mostly from the campus Hillel organization, attended a meeting of the university’s Board of Publications during which they confronted D’Anna with their complaints. As the former editor recalls it:

I was on the hot seat for about two hours. And I tried to deal with all their questions and they kept demanding that steps be taken. I asked them what steps, and they said they wanted a review board. And I said ‘That’s fine, you can review anything you want after it comes out in the paper,’ and they said ‘No, we want to review it before it comes out in the paper,’ and I said that was totally unacceptable.

In the end the boycott effort was ineffective, as only two businesses cancelled their advertising. Moreover, D’Anna received firm support from the newspaper staff and from the head of the university’s journalism department, himself Jewish. Yet the former editor recalls that the campaign against him had an impact: “It was effective to a certain extent. I was gun-shy and it was quite a while before I touched any international issue.”

“It Seemed to Be Politics”

The Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut, has the oldest Islamic studies program in the United States. Beginning in the early 1970s, the president of the seminary began to receive complaints from members of the Hartford Jewish community that the program was anti-Jewish. One person said the program was in fact an “al-Fatah support group.” More recently, Willem A. Bijlefeld, director of the seminary’s Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, was asked by the local daily Hartford Courant to write a piece about PLO leader Yasser Arafat. On New Year’s Eve, 1983, the day following publication of his article, Bijlefeld received a phone call from a man who identified himself only as Jewish. The caller said that the seminary had a long tradition of “anti-Jewish propaganda” and accused Bijlefeld of supporting “the killing of Jews and the destruction of Israel.” He then expressed his joy at the “extremely painful death” of NBC news anchorwoman Jessica Savitch, killed in an automobile accident, which he said was a “manifestation of divine justice” since she had “lied” 1982 Israeli invasion. The caller said that he was fully confident that this kind of punishment awaited “any enemy of Israel.” Said Bijlefeld, “The implications for me were clear.”

Ostracism is another weapon of the lobby. Eqbal Ahmad is an American scholar of Pakistani origin who holds two Ph.D. degrees from Princeton University, one in political science and one in Islamic studies. He is also a fellow at Washington’s Institute for Policy Studies, articles published on the op-ed page of the New York Times. Ahmad says that as a critic of Israeli policies and a supporter of the rights of the Palestinians, he has been ostracized by the academic community:

It is not only the material punishments that people encounter, but the extraordinary environment of conformity that is imposed upon you and the price in isolation that individuals have to pay for not conforming on this issue.

Ahmad joined the faculty of Cornell University in 1965. “I was a young assistant professor, generally liked by my colleagues,” recalls Ahmad. “And they continued to be very warm and civil to me despite the fact that many of them were conservative people and I had already become fairly prominent in the anti-Vietnam war movement.”

After the Arab-Israeli war of June 1967, Ahmad made a speech at Cornell criticizing Israel’s conquest and retention of Arab territory and also signed petitions supporting the right of the Palestinians to self-determination. Throughout his two remaining years at Cornell, says Ahmad, no more than four of the entire faculty spoke to him. “I would often sit at the lunch table in the faculty lounge, which is generally very crowded, and I would have a table for six to myself.” Ahmad says that of the four who remained his friends, three were Jewish:

The issue is not one of Jew versus gentile. There is a silent covenant within the academic community concerning Israel. The interesting thing is that the number of prominent Jews who have broken the covenant is much larger than the number of gentiles.

In 1983, Ahmad’s name appeared in the B’nai B’rith publication Pro-Arab Propaganda in America: Vehicles and Voices. “This they are doing to somebody who has not to date received any form of support from an Arab government or an Arab organization,” says Ahmad. Ahmad says that about a quarter of his income comes from speaking engagements, mainly university endowed lectures. Since the publication of the B’nai B’rith “enemies list,” his speaking invitations have dropped by about 50 percent. “These invitations come from my reputation as an objective, independent scholar,” says Ahmad. “By putting me under the rubric of propagandist they have put into question my position as an objective scholar.”

Since Ahmad left Cornell in 1969 he has not been able to obtain a regular teaching appointment. He has been a visiting professor at one college or another every year. Towards the end of his 1982-83 term at Rutgers University College in Newark, New Jersey, he was considered for a regular appointment, by at the last minute it fell through. Says Ahmad,

I have been told privately that it was because Zionist professors objected to my appointment. The dean was told that I would not get the vote of the faculty because accusations had been made that I was anti-Semitic and had created an anti-Semitic atmosphere on the campus while I was teaching there. All this was told to me in private; I have nothing in writing...

S.C. Whittaker, former chairman of the Political Science Department at Rutgers University College and the man who originally hired Ahmad as a visiting professor, was away when the question of a full professorship for Ahmad came up. “When I got back,” said Whittaker, “I was told that he’d been a great smash as a teacher and that his enrollments were terrific. But when the proposal to have him stay on permanently came up, it was shot down, and it seemed to be politics.”

Arab Funding Too Hot to Handle

In 1977, three of America’s most prestigious small colleges, Swarthmore, Haverford and Bryn Mawr, proposed to seek funds from a private Arab foundation for a joint Middle East studies program. The three “sister schools” located in the affluent “mainline” suburbs of Philadelphia, already shared a Russian studies program.

The idea for the joint program originated in conversations between college officials and Swarthmore alumnus Willis Armstrong, a former assistant secretary of state who had recently become secretary-treasurer of the Triad Foundation. The Washington-based foundation had been established by wealthy Saudi entrepreneur Adnan Khashoggi to finance, in his words, “programs with long-range goals for building bridges of understanding between countries.” Khashoggi is a flamboyant multimillionaire who made his fortune by serving as a middleman to foreign companies, including several major defense contractors, seeking business in Saudi Arabia.

The three-year $590,000 program worked out by Armstrong and the colleges was exemplary by everyone’s account. The plan would provide foreign student scholarships to needy Arab students, expand the colleges’ collections of books and periodicals dealing with the Middle East and strengthen existing Middle East-related courses. In addition, about one-fourth of the grant would be used to finance a rotating professorship. The visiting professors would be used to finance a rotating professorship. The visiting professors would teach courses on the Middle East and its relation to disciplines including anthropology, art history, economics, history, political science and religion.

“It was as innocuous and rich as a proposal could be,” recalled Swarthmore Vice-President Kendall Landis five years later. Haverford president Stephen Cary had described it at the time as “promising in terms of academic enrichment.” The program would serve to “raise the consciousness of students about the Middle East situation, ” commented Haverford’s associate director of development, John Gilbert.

Perhaps the most enthusiastic supporter of the plan was Bryn Mawr President Harris Wofford. A former Peace Corps director, Wofford was known for his long interest in promoting international understanding. He called the Middle East studies proposal “a good prospect for something we badly want.”

The grant proposal included a guarantee of absolute academic freedom. “This was to be done in accordance with the highest academic standards,” explained Armstrong. “The colleges would choose the visiting professors, they’d buy the books and they’d pick out the students to whom to give scholarships.”

Moreover, the rotating professorship meant that no one professor would be around long enough to develop roots. “We really bent over backwards to be completely fair,” said Landis. “Jewish professors would be employed as well as others.”

“There was never any pressure from Triad in any discussions we had with them,” said Haverford’s Cary, “nor any indication from them that it couldn’t be a study that would include Israel. So I never had any criticism of the Triad Foundation people at all.”

The agreement with Triad was all but concluded by the three colleges. All that remained was to present the grant proposal formally to the Triad Foundation which, Armstrong assured the college officials, would accept it and write out the check.

Some, however, like Ira Silverman of the American Jewish Committee, saw dangers in the plan. Silverman had received a telephone call from Swarthmore political science professor James Kurth alerting the AJC to the grant proposal. In a confidential memorandum he prepared for the AJC’s National Committee on Arab Influence in the United States, Silverman wrote:

Professor Kurth, who is not Jewish, believed that the proposed program should be of concern to the AJC inasmuch as it would not only expand the study of the contemporary Arab world but would explicitly seek to bring the Arab political message to those campuses.
Professor Kurth brought these facts to our attention and asked for AJC help in blocking the implementation of the program. We discussed the matter and agreed that it would make most sense to try to kill the program through quiet, behind-the-scenes talks with college officials, before ‘going public’; and that protests against the program need not be based solely or particularly on Jewish opposition to Arab influence. Instead, we thought it should be possible to generate concern about the program based on its sponsorship by Khashoggi and its evident public relations aims, not appropriate for colleges of the stature of these three schools.

Silverman went right to work orchestrating a campaign to discredit Khashoggi and Triad:

I immediately sent Professor Kurth a folder of information on Khashoggi, the Triad Corporation and Triad Foundation which was compiled by the AJC Trends Analysis Division.
I also notified the AJC Philadelphia chapter of these developments so that they could be in touch with Professor Kurth to assist in getting some local Philadelphia Jewish community leaders, alumni of the schools or otherwise associated with them, to raise questions about the proposed grant.”

The effect of the AJC’s efforts to “kill the program” was stunning. Using material provided by Silverman, the Swarthmore student newspaper, The Phoenix, published an article which falsely stated that Khashoggi was “under indictment by a federal grand jury” in connection with certain payments to Lockheed. Asked later about the role this article played in the controversy, James Platt, who had edited the student newspaper, said: “The Phoenix got things out their publicly, at least for students and certain alums who probably hadn’t heard about it beforehand, to make their phone calls and be upset and so forth.” Where had he gotten this information? He refused to say. “I’d prefer to talk to the people first just to make sure they have no problem with that. At the time, it was to remain confidential.”

Before the Phoenix article appeared, Swarthmore President Theodore Friend called a meeting of department representatives to obtain the concurrence of faculty on the tentative grant proposal. Some of the faculty were reported to have objected to the plan. On the evening after the Phoenix article appeared, a petition was circulated in the college dining hall calling Khashoggi a “munitions monger” and referring to “kickbacks” in the Middle East. The petition, which called on the administration to drop the proposal, was signed by 230 students and faculty. Almost at the same time, the Philadelphia Jewish Federation had a letter on the president’s desk.

“Speaking from memory,” says one observer close to the Swarthmore scene, “it all happened in about eighteen and a half minutes. It was like the Great Fear sweeping across France during the French Revolution.”

On November 3, 1977, articles appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer and in another Philadelphia paper, The Evening Bulletin. The latter was headlined: “Colleges Hesitate in Scandal.” By November 4, the student newspaper published jointly by Bryn Mawr and Haverford had also published an article detailing both the grant proposal and Khashoggi’s background. The same issue included an editorial entitled “Say No to Triad.”

The Jewish Community Relations Council, the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith also issued a joint statement: “It is altogether appropriate that the schools should seriously question the wisdom of accepting any grant from such a tainted source and one which is dominated by a figure like Adnan Khashoggi.”

Finally, the Washington office of the AJC put Professor Kurth in touch with Congressman James Scheuer, who is Jewish and a Swarthmore alumnus. According to Armstrong, Scheuer called President Friend and requested the telephone numbers of the members of the college’s Board of Managers “so he could call them at once and get them to put a stop to this outrageous thing.”

Various groups tried to enlist faculty intervention. Harrison Wright, a professor of history at Swarthmore, recalled later that there were “memos to the whole faculty and to the department chairmen by different groups. It was a fairly short but quite sharp exchange of different points of view.”

The first of the three colleges to publicly withdraw from the joint effort was Haverford. In a prepared statement, Haverford President Cary said the college was “grateful to Triad for its willingness to consider an application” but “because of Haverford’s Quaker background it has decided it shouldn’t apply for funds derived so directly from arms traffic which it deplores.”

Swarthmore’s withdrawal followed immediately. President Friend announced the college’s decision in these words:

At a time of rigorous financial planning and examination of curriculum, our lack of significant existing base in Middle Eastern studies at Swarthmore does not in our view warrant what at present could only be a temporary experiment.

Peter Cohan, a leader of student protest against the Triad grant, complained later to a Phoenix reporter that the statement “did not establish principles, but spoke only to the immediate situation.” In the same Phoenix article, Swarthmore Vice-President Landis pointed out that the decision on the Triad grant was made “amid a whirlwind of protest which arose from ‘more than just Khashoggi.’” According to Landis, “There were other concerns within the protest.”

In a letter to the Phoenix, Ben Rockefeller, another student, agreed with Landis:

Jewish students are not disturbed about the Rockefellers’ business conduct because they aren’t truly contesting anybody’s business conduct: the alleged concern about Mr. Khashoggi’s professional character is a ruse to conceal an anti-Arab prejudice.

Only Bryn Mawr continued to pursue the grant. “I think the question of judging the source of money is not a simplistic one,” said President Wofford. Wofford defended the college’s decision in an article published in the Bryn Mawr/Haverford student newspaper, The News, which was on record as opposing the grant:

No one at Bryn Mawr has suggested that Mr. Khashoggi’s record is irrelevant or that we don’t care about it. We explored that record in the three-college discussions last summer and circulated information we found. If there is new information we should consider it carefully. But of simply saying ‘No’ to Triad, as The News proposes, I think we should examine all the facts and together think about the issues raised.
In deciding our next steps, we need to guard against prejudice, against misinformation, and against the politics of purely personal psychic satisfaction. Wouldn’t it be prejudice to accept a donation from Lockheed, for example, which was found guilty of improper practices, while refusing it from Triad, whose donor (contrary to the Swarthmore Phoenix’s allegation) has not been indicted let alone convicted of anything?

The Philadelphia Inquirer supported Bryn Mawr’s position. In an editorial entitled “…But Money Has No Smell,” the newspaper said it did not believe it necessary that Haverford, Swarthmore and Bryn Mawr “look with revulsion” at the source of the $590,000 grant. “We believe they would do well to follow the counsel of the celebrated American philosopher, Woody Allen, and take the money and run.” Like Wofford, the newspaper pointed out that “quite a few sources of donations to higher education would not bear close scrutiny.”

The American Jewish Committee memo notes with satisfaction that, though Bryn Mawr pursued the grant proposal, it did so “on a substantially reduced scale.”

In fact, Bryn Mawr’s request for funds ultimately went unanswered. Khashoggi had been badly burned. He gave up the foundation and with it the offer to the three colleges.

Reflecting on the controversy and on Bryn Mawr’s decision to stay with the proposal, Wofford said: “We were in a relatively strong position because that same year we had started a program of inviting people who wanted to contribute to Bryn Mawr’s Judaic Studies program to donate Israel bonds.” The Jewish community was pleased by this. “In fact,” said Wofford, “I was awarded the Eleanor Roosevelt award of the Israel Bonds Organization.” Asked how he felt about the withdrawal of the other colleges, Wofford said,

We felt sort of run out on by both of them. In the first place they publicly withdrew without any real consultation. And secondly, it was something we had thought through and it seemed an unfair flap at a potential donor.

In a letter to President Friend, Willis Armstrong said:

Swarthmore seems to me to have taken leave of its principles and to have yielded all too quickly to partisan and xenophobic pressure from a group skilled in the manipulation of public opinion. I am at a loss to think how the United States can promote peace in the Middle East unless we can gain Arab confidence in our understanding and objectivity. For a Quaker institution to turn its back on an opportunity to contribute to this understanding is profoundly depressing.

Haverford President Cary, like Swarthmore’s President Friend, denies that his decision to withdraw from the grant proposal was influenced by pressures from the Jewish community. Said Cary:

I did have some letters from some of our Jewish alumnae who thought that we should have no part of such a thing. But that had nothing to do with my decision.

Haverford’s provost at the time, Tom D’Andrea, assesses the importance of Jewish opposition differently:

One of the big issues, of course, had to do with very strong opposition from Jewish organizations. I think a lot of it had to do with Arab influence and the whole Middle East situation. But then, of course, you get into really serious questions about academic freedom. The freedom of expression. Well, one way you can avoid that is to find another peg to hang the protest on and the arms one is a little cleaner given the Quaker factor.

In concluding his memo describing the success of the American Jewish Committee’s efforts to foil the Middle East studies program at the three colleges, Ira Silverman wrote:

Our participation was not widely known on the campuses and not reported in the public press, as we wished. This is a good case history of how we can be effective in working with colleges to limit Arab influence on campuses-although in view of the schools’ Quaker background and Khashoggi’s cloudy reputation as an arms merchant, its happy ending is not likely to be replicated easily in other cases.

Swarthmore, Haverford and Bryn Mawr have done little since the 1977-78 events to improve their offerings in a field that has become too hot for many colleges to handle.

Another college about a hundred miles away showed more courage, although it too nearly faltered.

Returning Solicited Gifts

Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS) was the first academic program in the United States devoted exclusively to the study of the modern Arab world. Established in 1975, the center is a functional part of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. As such, CCAS not only offers an academic program leading to a master’s degree in Arab studies but also provides opportunities for students with other international interests to learn about the 22 political systems and 170 million people in North Africa, the Nile valley, the Fertile Crescent, and the Arabian Peninsula.

Since federal funding for a traditional Middle East center at Georgetown had twice been sought and denied, the directors of the new center decided early on to seek support from private sources. They hoped to obtain about half the needed funds from Arab governments. The dean of Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, Peter F. Krogh, explained the original plan: “It was our view that we should not play favorites among the Arab states and seek support from some but not from others. This would then suggest that the academic program would also play favorites.”

After obtaining approval for the plan from the university’s development office and from Georgetown’s president at the time, the Reverend R.J. Henle, Dean Krogh visited all the Arab embassies and missions in Washington. He told them about the center’s plans and asked for their assistance. “I went to all of them,” says Krogh, “whether they had diplomatic relations with the United States or not, whether they were moderate or radical, whatever their stripe.” John Ruedy, chairman of the center’s program of studies, recalls the fund raising philosophy in similar terms: “We were going to be sure that we weren’t labeled as being in anybody’s pocket.”

The first country to contribute was Oman, soon followed by grants from Unite Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Then, in May 1977, Libya committed $750,000, payable over five years, to endow a professorial chair in Arab culture.

The Libyan gift aroused controversy. According to one faculty member, there was “considerable consternation” among faculty, students and some administrators and trustees. The protest included a letter to the student newspaper, the Georgetown Voice, from columnist Art Buchwald. Buchwald calling the gift “blood money from one of the most notorious regimes in the world today.” But Georgetown’s executive vice-president for academic affairs, the Reverend Aloysius P. Kelley, told the Washington Post at the time that the Libyan gift “contributes to the fulfillment of the main purpose of the center…which is to increase knowledge of the Arab world in the United States. Says Dean Krogh, “Libya was responding to the blanket request to all Arab countries to take an interest in our work and to help us where they could. It was an endowment. They sent the check; we deposited it. They never inquired, never asked for an accounting. They didn’t even ask for a stewardship report.” Center Director Michael Hudson stressed in press interviews that no conditions were attached to the gift regarding who could occupy the chair or what the chosen professor could teach. “We don’t mix politics and education,” Hudson told the Washington Post.

The next governmental contributors were Jordan, Qatar and Iraq. The Iraqi gift of $50,000 came in the spring of 1978. It was an unrestricted contribution which the center subsequently decided to use to hire a specialist in Islamic ethics.

In the meantime, Henle had been replaced as president of Georgetown by the Reverend Timothy S. Healy. In July of 1978, Healy took the unusual step of returning Iraq’s $50,000 gift without advising the center of his intentions. The official reason given for the action was that another donor had come forward to provide funds for the same purpose. In his letter to the director general of Iraq’s Center for Research and Information, Healy wrote:

I feel obliged in conscience to return to Your Excellency the generous check which you have sent us. I hope that in doing this, we can continue our conversations and that it will be possible for the university to return to the generosity of the Iraqi government in the future and ask for a gift for which full credit can be given to the government which gave it. I am sure you will understand the delicacy of the university’s position in this matter.

But faculty members at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies said they did not understand “the delicacy of the university’s position.” Arab Studies Director John Ruedy commented at the time: “Acting as agents of the university, we solicited money from Iraq. The president of this university returned it without ever seeking our approval. His intervention into this is really extraordinary.” Dean Krogh told the press: “This is the first time we’ve given back a grant as long as I’ve been here,” adding that the issue had been “taken out of my hands.”

According to the Washington Star, both supporters and opponents of the Iraqi grant agreed that “decision was politically motivated.” Ruedy told the Star: “I don’t know what other basis there would be for refusing the money.” CCAS faculty members charged that Father Healy’s own support for Israel, combined with pressure from the pro-Israeli members of the university’s community and from influential Jewish leaders, led him to return the gift.

John Ruedy recalls the incident:

The timing was appalling. We were just shocked. We had been arguing with [Healy] over that for a couple of months. He said he didn’t like it. We knew he was distressed about it. But we thought that we had convinced him that he must quietly accept the gift because we had asked for it under the mandate given to us by his predecessor.

According to one member of the CCAS faculty, the center’s problems really began with the arrival of Healy:

His whole political socialization regarding the Middle East took place within the context of New York City [where Healy grew up]. He told us early on that if he had been here in our formative days, we wouldn’t exist. He was a vulnerable instrument for these people and they kept pushing and pushing and pushing. He was under enormous pressure.

Father Healy refused to comment to the press on his decision to return the gift, saying that to do so “would only harm the institution.” The university’s executive vice-president for academic affairs and provost, the Reverend Aloysius P. Kelley, declined to comment directly on whether the university had considered any other use for the general purpose grant.

Despite Healy’s return of the Iraqi gift, Georgetown’s new Arab studies center came under attack. In June 1979 The New Republic, a liberal weekly that has become a staunchly pro-Israeli magazine under owner Martin Peretz, ran an article by Nicholas Lemann on Georgetown’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies insinuating that the center was “nothing but a propagandist for the Arabs.” Wrote Lemann, “Unlike the older Middle Eastern studies centers at other universities, the Georgetown center makes no attempt to achieve balance by studying Israel along with the Arab nations or by hiring Israeli scholars.” Center Director Michael Hudson and Dean Krogh answered this charge in a reply which was prepared but never published:

Since when was it required, for example, that a center for Chinese studies study the Soviet Union and employ Soviet scholars…The center studies the Arabs and it employs scholars recruited through normal University Departmental and School procedures which provide for appointments without discrimination of any kind. If this country is not allowed by particular interest groups to pursue the study of the Arabs by the same standards applied to the study of other major peoples and cultures, this country’s knowledge of, and international relations with, a significant group of countries is going to be deeply, perhaps tragically, flawed.

The New Republic article added that the Georgetown Center “is constantly charged with violating standards of scholarly objectivity” but did not say by whom. Author Lemann referred to the centers critics, “who, in the cloak-and-dagger spirit, like to remain anonymous.”

Hudson and Krogh, in their unpublished reply, wrote:

Detective Lemann, to his credit, discovers “an informal network of people” operating in the “cloak and dagger spirit” who are busy trying to embarrass the center in some way. To his discredit, he associates himself with this undercover group by borrowing upon these anonymous accusations in criticizing an open, legitimately constituted academic program. A more worthy approach would have been to investigate and reveal the composition, operations, and motivations of this “informal network.” We think the public should be deeply concerned about an underground group which seeks to undermine the imparting of knowledge and understanding about the Arab world; certainly we would be interested in any findings Mr. Lemann (or his publisher, Mr. Martin Peretz) could provide on this question.

Despite the return of the Iraqi grant, Georgetown continued to receive Arab funds, including grants of $1 million each from Kuwait and Oman in the fall of 1980. An article in the Washington Post reporting the Kuwaiti gift quoted Ira Silverman of the American Jewish Committee [and the Swarthmore/Haverford/Bryn Mawr controversy] as saying that Georgetown’s Arab studies center “has a clearly marked pro-Arab, anti-Israel bias in its selection of curriculum material, its faculty appointments, and speakers.” By accepting money from “political sponsors of one point of view,” Said Silverman, Georgetown might be “selling something very precious to Americans-the integrity of its universities.”

Georgetown officials rejected criticism of the Arab gifts, pointing out that if it had pro-Arab scholars in the Arab studies center, it had pro-Israel scholars elsewhere on its faculty, particularly in its Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Then, in February 1981 President Healy again returned an Arab donation which had been solicited and received by the Arab studies center. This time it was the grant from Libya received four years earlier. Of the $750,000 pledged over five years, $600,000 had been received. Healy personally took a check for that amount plus $42,000 in interest earned, to the Libyan embassy. Healy said Libya’s “accent on violence as a normal method of international policy and its growing support of terrorism made [keeping the money]…incompatible with everything Georgetown stands for.”

Once again, many doubted the official reason given. As one professor in the Arab studies program put it: “If it was strictly an ethical judgment, it certainly was a long time in coming.” John Ruedy added:

If you ask around here, you’ll probably find nobody in our center who approves of the policies of [Iraqi President] Saddam Hussein. But we have tried to maintain cooperative relationships with the government and, to the extent that we can, with the Iraqi people. We think that this is our mission. And I feel the same way about Libya. I find [Libyan President] Kaddafi very objectionable in most instances. This was a gift, as far as I’m concerned, from the Libyan people.

“This whole thing is something out of the blue,” Professor Hisham Sharabi told the Washington Post. “It’s very strange.”

Dean Peter Krogh opposed returning the money but did not make an issue of it. He declined to comment to the press, except to say, “We never felt any pressure from the Libyan government” on how the money was to be spent. But, he observes: “Deans are deans and presidents are presidents. Presidents do pretty much what they please.”

Ira Silverman of the American Jewish Committee was “delighted that Georgetown has made this decision.” Moreover, the day after the return of the Libyan money, the New York City investment firm, Bear, Stearns & Co., donated $100,000 to Georgetown. Said senior managing partner Alan Greenberg, “We admire them, and this is our little way of saying thank you.”

Healy told the Post that in returning the money to Libya, “I was under absolutely no heat and pressure, but it worried me. I guess I’m just kind of slow to move, but I came to a growing realization that what Libya is up to is incompatible with Georgetown.”

In an interview with the Washingtonian magazine, however, he was more candid. Originally, he had approved the Libyan gift despite some misgivings. He told the magazine the Libyan money “had been a huge nuisance and had kept him entangled in a verbal version of the Arab-Israeli war.” Reported in the Washingtonian:

His Jewish friends screamed at him privately, and the American Jewish Committee issued a statement publicly condemning the university. Even his gestures of appeasement and balance-a goodwill trip to Israel, an honorary degree for the Israeli ambassador to the United States, refusal of a gift from Iraq, wearing a yarmulke at a Jewish service on campus-did little to offset the Jewish anger over the Libyan money.

In fact, pressure on Healy had been intense before his return of the Libyan grant. One expression of Jewish anger took the form of a visit to Healy’s office by a delegation of rabbis. Max Kampelman, an influential Jewish member of Georgetown University’s Board of Trustees, also interceded with Healy directly. As a former ambassador to the Helsinki Accords, Kampelman was “a major factor,” observes Dean Krogh. Former ambassador to the United Nations Arthur Goldberg reportedly added his weight to the combined pressure. In addition, Healy received, according to John Ruedy, “loads of letters.” Another Georgetown professor called it “hate mail.”

Indeed, controversy over the Arab studies program largely subsided after the return of the Libyan grant. As one professor at the center put it, “If returning the Libyan money has brought us some breathing space and gotten the monkey off our backs, maybe it was worth it.” But since then Arab governments have been less forthcoming with contributions. Says Ruedy, “We Know that in some cases it has specifically to do with a sense of affront. Returning a gift in one donor’s face is seen as an attack on all of them.”

On the other hand, Georgetown University has now committed itself and its won financial resources to Arab studies. In the spring of 1983, Arab studies was one of nine graduate programs which the university “designated for excellence.” “I feel that this may mean we have crossed the Rubicon,” said Ruedy.

One reason Georgetown’s Arab studies center has been able to survive, and even prosper despite the controversy, is that it is affiliated with a private university. Says Ruedy,

You could probably not have an Arab studies program in a public institution. You can have a Jewish studies program, of course. In fact, that is politically very advantageous…Georgetown and the Jesuits are as far from dependency on Jewish support as you could be.

“That Was the Buzzword, ‘Arab’”

The second U.S. university to create an Arab studies program, Villanova University in Pennsylvania, is also Catholic. In 1983, Villanova set up the Institute for Contemporary Arab and Islamic Studies. The director, Father Kail Ellis, is an Augustinian priest of Lebanese origin. Villanova’s is a modest program, involving as yet no outside funds, which offers certificates in Arab studies to undergraduates majoring in other fields. The institution also sponsors conferences, lectures and cultural events. Says Father Ellis: “Our goal is to familiarize the students with the history, language, politics and culture of the Arab Islamic world.”

Despite the program’s modest scope and the absence of Arab funding, there was considerable opposition to it from within the university, mainly from the political science department. “The pressure wasn’t really overt as such,” says Ellis. “It was always behind the scenes. There are a couple of faculty people who were the most vocal against it and they organized the opposition.”

The political science department was originally asked to comment on the proposal for establishing the institute. In a minority report attached to the departments comments, one professor warned about the effect of such a program on the Jewish community:

Villanova exists in a larger community on which it depends for both financial and political support. This larger community is made up of Protestants, Catholics and Jews and very few Muslims. If Villanova creates an Islamic Studies Institute, it will have no effect, positive or negative, on its Catholic and Protestant constituencies. But because this issue has high emotional content, it will in my view have strong negative effects on the Jewish community in the Villanova area who though relatively few in number are financially and politically influential.
Such an institute might reflect on Villanova University’s president in such a way as to affect his ability to function on the Holocaust Committee where his efforts have provided great credibility for Villanova among the Jewish Committee. It is my opinion that the existence of such an institute might dry up possible Jewish financial and political support.

Another professor commented:

Israel is the single most important United States ally in the Middle East politically, it has extensive and close economic and business ties with the U.S., it is the cultural and religious homeland of millions of Americans. To exclude the study of Israel from the proposed program is a mistake and may affect potential enrollment.

Ellis explains: “The idea was to broaden the program from Arab studies. That was the buzzword, ‘Arab.’”

Georgetown’s John Ruedy was invited to Villanova as a consultant to participate in the preparations for the Arab studies proposal. “The opposition was very interesting,” says Ruedy:

It was the Zionist issue but nobody said it. I could just tell, because I’d been there before. The first line of opposition is on academic grounds. But when you get around all these and answer all the questions, then they bare their fangs and say, “This is anti-Israel, this is anti-Semitic, and it will be against the interests of the university. And we have to relate to Jewish donors and so on.” This is precisely what happened at Villanova.

After the institute opened, Father Ellis received a letter from American Professors for Peace in the Middle East, a national pro-Israeli organization. The executive director, George Cohen, took issue with a map that appeared in the brochure. The map, clearly labeled “The Arab and Islamic World,” shows only the Arab countries of the Middle East and Africa in dark green and the non-Arab Islamic countries, namely, Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan in light green. Cohen noted that the map did not identify Israel. “Is this an error,” he asked, “or is it intended to make a political statement, excluding Israel?”

Ellis wrote back that the purpose of the map was to identify the Arab and Islamic countries with which the program dealt:

It was not our intention to make a political statement about Israel, or any other country, such as Ethiopia, Cyprus, Mali, Chad or even Turkmen, Uzbek and Tajik Republics of the Soviet Union, all of which are located in the area and have substantial Moslem populations but which were excluded from the map.

Cohen was not satisfied and wrote another letter, saying he did not accept Ellis’s response and asking him to “present this issue to your department before I take it further.”

Cohen did not specify what measures he might employ in “taking it further,” and Ellis did not respond to his second letter. Meanwhile the Institute for Contemporary Arab and Islamic Studies has continued to gain acceptance within the Villanova scholarly community.

Meanwhile, the attacks against the academic community in Middle East studies are, in the view of a leading scholar, continuing and “perhaps getting even stronger.” He adds, “They are not directed just at one or two institutions but appear to have a nationwide basis.”

Think Tank Under Pressure

Of the many “think tanks” that have sprung up around the country in the last two decades, Georgetown University’s Center for Strategic and International Studies is one of the most prestigious. Established in 1965, CSIS has grown to comprise a staff of 150, with a budget of $6 million and a publications list of nearly 200 titles. Among the eminent names on the Center’s roster are Henry Kissinger, Howard K. Smith, Lane Kirkland and John Glenn. CSIS is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization which, though known to be conservative in outlook, includes both Democrats and Republicans on its advisory board.

Based in Washington, the center views the provision of expert research and analysis to government leaders as one of its most vital functions. As part of Georgetown University, CSIS considers itself an “integral part of the academic community.” Scholarly participation in all center activities “insures that the widest and most rigorous thinking is brought to bear on issues.”

The center, says its brochure, is “well-equipped to function in a true interdisciplinary, nonpartisan fashion.” Yet, a report completed in 1981 by the director of the Oil Field Security Studies Project was suppressed on the eve of Congressional action on the sale of AWACS planes to Saudi Arabia. Supporters of Israel from outside the center were opposed to the sale and did not want the contents of the report known because they feared it could be used effectively in winning Congressional approval. Six months later, the author of the offending study was fired by the center and urged to leave town.

The victim was Mazher Hameed-a native of Saudi Arabia, a graduate of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a specialist on international security affairs. Former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia James Akins wrote of Hameed in 1983, “I know of no one else in this country with his insight, his honesty, his analytical ability and his profound knowledge of the Middle East, particularly the Arabian Peninsula.” Hameed was hired by the center in November of 1980 as a research fellow “with responsibilities for research on a project on Saudi oil field security.” In the letter of appointment, CSIS Executive Director Amos Jordan wrote: “This letter also constitutes a formal approval of the oil field security project.”

The scope of the project was outlined in a memorandum to Jordan prepared a month earlier by Wayne Berman, responsible to Jordan for fund raising. That memo stated that the project would focus on the political and military analysis of oil field vulnerabilities in the Middle East, the likelihood of attacks from various sources, an examination of security planning, and technical defense profiles.

Amos Jordan himself brought up with Hameed the need to evaluate the AWACS/F-15 enhancement package before it became an issue on Capitol Hill.

For the next nine months, Hameed carried out his research and wrote a series of drafts of a report on his results. These drafts were shown to Amos Jordan, who had become vice chairman of the center, and to David Abshire, the chairman, as well as to several experts outside the center. The final report was to be published by CSIS.

Jordan told Hameed after reading one of the earlier drafts that his work was “brilliant” and that he wanted to see more work for that caliber emerging from the center. Abshire concurred with this view. Jordan personally gave copies of one of the earlier drafts to William Clark, at the time deputy secretary of state and subsequently President Reagan’s national security advisor. Other Middle East experts who praised the report were Anthony Cordesman, international editor of the Armed Forces Journal, and William Quandt, director of the Energy and National Security Project of the Brookings Institution.

In August 1981, Abshire and Jordan left together for a trip to Tokyo. They took Hameed’s final draft with them. Jordan sent back a Telex praising the study: “On plane I read Hameed’s Saudi security paper,” read the telex, “which is informative and beautifully written.” The telex went on to suggest the report should be edited to tone down its strong advocacy of the AWACS/F-15 package. “Paper makes strong case without overkill,” wrote Jordan. “Careful edit to meet above point needed before CSIS publishes in house by about 10 or 15 September. Suggest 300 copies.”

In accordance with these instructions, Hameed met with Jean Newsom, a senior editor at the center, and William Taylor, director of political and military studies, and the three of them set to work on the final editing. At the same time, Newsom initiated talks with McGraw-Hill concerning publication of the report.

Jean Newsom, when asked to confirm that the center had negotiated publication of the report with McGraw-Hill, demurred. She said in a telephone interview: “We were not negotiating with McGraw-Hill, just seeing whether they were interested.” But Trish Wilson, a research assistant for Hameed at the time, said, “They were talking about what the price was. They gave McGraw-Hill an estimate of how much they could sell the book for.”

The editing proceeded simultaneously with the negotiations through September and into October when, without warning, the center’s comptroller, David Wendt, told Hameed that David Abshire had called form California where he was vacationing on his way back from Japan. The message from Abshire was that the report was not to be released.

Upset, Hameed pursued the matter with Jordan and others at the center: “They told me that many very large contributors to the center would be upset if they saw a report that was, as they described it, ‘lacking in objectivity.’” Research assistant Paul Sutphin recalls:

I remember that it came as quite a surprise that suddenly there was going to be a problem with the center’s putting out the report. Everything fell apart at the last moment. Hameed said that suddenly the “powers on high” had decided to nix the center’s support of the publication.

Trish Wilson also remembers the incident: “They didn’t want him to publish it at all, even privately.”

Another of Hameed’s research assistants, George Smalley, who had been hired at the beginning of October on a salary basis was told before the month was out that his status would be changed. “Due to budget problems,” he was to work on a fee basis and would no longer be granted any of the benefits initially agreed upon. These included social security, a paid vacation, sick leave, and free tuition at Georgetown University after one year. Smalley is convinced there was a direct link between the fate of Hameed’s report and the fate of his own position with the center.

At that stage Hameed decided to take the initiative:

I wanted the report out before the AWACS issue came up in Congress. Because this was a document that was relevant to what was being discussed on the Hill and I want my work to be looked at.

Hameed sent copies of the 85-page report to major corporations that contributed to the center. He told them: “I understand you people would be upset if you saw this report coming out of the center.” Until that time, says Hameed, he had no relationship with these companies. The center had asked him specifically not to go to any of these corporations for funding because it had long-standing relationships with most of them and didn’t want these disturbed.

“These people,” says Hameed, “for the first time heard about me, saw the report, got excited and started calling the center to ask what was going on. They said that not only was the document interesting, not only did it have a unique point of view, but it had something very timely to say.” Some of these companies, acknowledged Hameed, were engaged in the lobbying effort on behalf of the AWACS sale. “They found something that they liked very much,” he recalls, “and they wanted to use it. So I used some influence of that sort to get a compromise.” The compromise was that the center permitted Hameed to release the report as a private document. “But they didn’t want me o indicate my designation at the center. I could just say I was a research fellow and program director without mentioning the name of the project.” Naming the project would have given the report additional credibility. “They didn’t want him to say that it was under the research auspices of the center,” confirms Paul Sutphin.

Hameed complied with the request. “For me the primary interest was to get the document out and to get it read. What the document had to say was more important than these other matters.” So Hameed had the report printed at his own expense and released it himself.

The response to the report in government circles was immediate. Recalls Hameed: “People at the State Department asked for copies, people on the Hill asked for copies, NSC [the National Security Council] asked for copies.” After Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was assassinated the following month, William Clark gave copies of Hameed’s report to former Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter to help update themselves on the Middle East while en route to Cairo for Sadat’s funeral. Clark called CSIS Vice-Chairman Amos Jordan specifically to tell him about it. Jordan conveyed this information to Hameed and assured him that the center’s chairman, David Abshire, concurred in praising the report.

On October 28, the U.S. Senate voted 52 to 48 against a resolution that would have blocked the AWACS sale to Saudi Arabia. Although the House had passed such a resolution two weeks earlier, a majority in both chambers was required to prevent the sale from going through. The Senate vote represented a rare defeat for the pro-Israeli lobby and one it was not about to forget.

In November Amos Jordan received a visit from Steve Emerson, an aide in former Senator Frank Church’s law firm, who had earlier assisted Church on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Emerson asked Jordan probing questions about the center’s activities, some of them concerning Hameed’s project. He told Jordan he was writing an article for The New Republic about the influence of “petro-dollars.” Emerson said he was interested in Hameed’s report and wanted to know who had funded it. After the interview, Jordan called Hameed, cautioned him that there might be some “turbulence” and advised him to “fasten your seatbelt.” To Jordan, the interview was “something threatening.” He later told Hameed: “It was clear that Emerson’s questions were hostile, and we were concerned that we would be subject to some unwarranted charges.”

In early December, Emerson and his associates returned to the center and brought with them the draft of the Emerson article for The New Republic. It was part of a series Emerson was writing for the magazine on alleged Arab attempts to manipulate U.S. public opinion. The suggestion was that policy “think tanks” receiving money from oil corporations with Arab business were under obligation to serve the political interests of those companies. But the draft fell short of singling out CSIS, and center officials continued to feel they could safely weather the storm caused by Hameed’s report.

Hameed, exhausted physically and emotionally, left in December for a vacation, but only, he said, after receiving assurance from Jordan that there was “nothing to worry about.”

“I came back in January,” said Hameed, “to learn that these gentlemen had returned once more to the center with another draft of the New Republic article. This time the draft appeared to compromise the center in a more specific way.”

Nevertheless, another member of the center’s senior staff, Jon Vondracek, had been in touch with the publisher of The New Republic, Martin Peretz. He told Hameed that he thought the center had enough clout to prevent the magazine from doing any harm.

During the same period, Emerson phoned Hameed’s office, asking questions about the report and, more specifically, about how Hameed’s project was funded. When Hameed declined to reveal his sources of funding, Emerson threatened to expose an alleged “petro-dollar” connection at CSIS. Hameed wished him luck. In addition to calling Hameed and his staff, Emerson had also contacted several corporations trying to find out who had funded the research.

“What was funny,” says Hameed, “was that my project had some funding but not from any of the companies you would expect. I felt I shouldn’t go to companies that had an obvious interest in influencing my work. What I had to say didn’t need influence from other groups, particularly those that were funding it. But beyond that I didn’t want the appearance of such influence. Having been meticulous about all this, I was especially irked to have this problem at the end.”

On February 17, 1982, the first of Steve Emerson’s promised series of articles appeared in The New Republic. Entitled “The Petro-dollar Connection,” the article was to be followed, according to the magazine, by future articles dealing with “strings-attached donations to policy think tanks, universities, and research institutions.”

The very next day, the center found itself under the spotlight from another source. Platt’s Oilgram News, a respected newsletter owned by McGraw-Hill, published an article on February 18 about Hameed’s report, saying the document had been “kept under wraps” by CSIS. Entitled “Georgetown Study: Israel Could ‘Create’ a Saudi Oil Embargo to Pressure U.S.,” the article quoted from the section of the report which discussed threats to Saudi Arabia from its neighbors. This was one of the sections that the CSIS directors were most nervous about, because it made the point that since Israel considered Saudi Arabia a “confrontation state” in the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Israelis might make pre-emptive strikes against Saudi military and economic assets.

“The study notes,” said the Oilgram article, “that Israel already occupies Saudi territory (the islands of Tiran and Sanafir) and that since 1976, Israeli aircraft have been making practice bombing runs over the Saudi airbase of Tabuk, dropping empty fuel tanks on several occasions. In addition, Israel has pointed out that its air force has the capability to create an ‘oil embargo’ of its own by destroying Saudi oil installations.”

The editor of Platt’s Oilgram News, Omnik Maraschian, did not know who had written the report or that it had been released privately months earlier. “All we knew was that there was a report,” says Maraschian. “It was distributed as a draft, as a CSIS report, and then it got pulled back, but we ran it nevertheless because it started as a project of CSIS.”

After the Platt’s article appeared, CSIS began to receive phone calls from people wanting copies of the study. This created an embarrassing situation for the center. Should they admit that they had suppressed the report? How could they explain the fact that they had never published it? Vice-Chairman Amos Jordan attempted a solution in the form of a memorandum to “Concerned Staff” that deserves a prize for obfuscation. The memo called the staff’s attention to the publication of the Platt’s article and suggested they use the following paragraph to answer all inquiries:

The center has not ‘completed last fall’ a study entitled ‘Saudi Security and the Evolving Threat to U.S. Interest.’ We have had underway for over a year a project on oil field security and research and that study continues. The project has produced several research fragments, including a partial draft with the title cited, but that does not represent a center study-rather it is only a small piece of the problem; and that at an early stage. When the study is completed later this year and becomes a CSIS report, it will be made public.

“They were quite taken aback when they saw that we used the story,” recalls Maraschian. “Obviously when they commissioned the man to do this study they knew what his qualifications were. So why did they go with it for a year and then pull it back?” Maraschian had an idea: “You see, what they got mad at was the possibility of a pre-emptive strike by Israel.”

Interestingly, Hameed was not the only one who that Israel might make a pre-emptive strike against Saudi Arabia. In the secret version of a government report entitled “U.S. Assistance to the State of Israel,” and leaked to the press in June 1983, the CIA is cited as warning that in reaction to the modernization of Arab armies, Israel might launch “pre-emptive attacks in future crises.” In fact, over the years Israeli military officials have talked openly about such strikes against Saudi Arabia.

Embarrassed by the Platt’s article and worried about efforts by the Israeli lobby to discredit the center, Jordan and Abshire-despite their own inclination to support the sale of AWACS to Saudi Arabia-apparently finally decided that Hameed was too great a liability. A week later, the center’s comptroller, David Wendt, told Hameed he would have to pay an additional surcharge on his office space amounting to $1,570 a month. As project director, Hameed was already paying 24 percent of his project funds to cover office overhead costs and another 20 percent to help cover the center’s general operations. The new charge would come on top of what he was already paying.

“I grumbled a bit but finally agreed,” recalls Hameed. “Then came the bombshell. They made it retroactive back 18 months!” Wendt told Hameed that, with the new charges, his project was $40,000 in deficit. Wendt said he would have to report the deficit and that it was likely that Hameed’s project would be terminated.

The stunned Hameed called John Shaw, a member of the senior staff. Shaw confided to Hameed that David Abshire was furious, though Shaw wouldn’t say why. Committee meetings were held throughout that day in order, Hameed believes, to discuss how to deal with the “problem.” The answer reached, says Hameed, was to offer up his head.

In April Hameed met with Jordan, whom he found uncharacteristically cold and distant. Jordan said he was concerned about the “deficit” and warned that Hameed’s project was in an unsustainable financial position.

A few days later, Jordan sent Hameed a letter stating that the project would have to be terminated by the end of the following month. Jordan added that he would be happy to review his decision and that Hameed might be hired back if he could raise “especially large amounts of money.”

After receiving the letter, Hameed met again with Jordan. He still hoped there was something he could do to prevent the imminent collapse of his project. He still saw Jordan as a friend, a man who had supported him personally and professionally. He thought that Jordan had been given a distorted picture of his project’s finances. But Jordan was unmoved. He responded to Hameed that the new surcharge had decided formally and that the matter was beyond his control. Hameed pleaded with Jordan to give him at least three or four months in which to wind things up, but to no avail.

Hameed spoke to other prominent people at the center in a desperate attempt to save his project. One told him “Just lie low and once this thing blows over, we can probably arrange to have you come back.” But, recalls Hameed with some bitterness, “Basically, no one stood up for me. They all looked the other way. They let it happen. The knives were out.”

Then, on March 5, shortly after learning that his job was to be terminated, Hameed arrived at his office to find that it had been burgled during the night. Someone had managed to penetrate three locked doors and had then pried open the file cabinet next to Hameed’s desk. The burglar had first to enter the office building, which was equipped with an electronic surveillance system using card readers. Then he had to enter the locked door to the office suite and finally the locked door to Hameed’s office. There were no signs of forced entry. But the file cabinet was bent and the drawer had been wrenched open. Adds Paul Sutphin: “This bore no signs of common burglary. There were other valuable things that were not taken.” In fact, nothing was taken at all. “It was such a lousy job, so obvious,” says Trish Wilson, “that we concluded it was there to scare us.”

The next day Hameed found that the post office box he used for some of his correspondence had been broken open. A few days later, the mailbox at his home was broken open. “Other weird things started to happen as well,” recalls Hameed. “For example, I’d leave for the weekend and come back and find things in my house that didn’t belong there…like contact lenses.”

These incidents were particularly frightening to Hameed-and the contact lens prank needlessly cruel-because he is blind.

Hameed left the center at the end of March. In May and June, The New Republic published the second and third parts of its series on petrodollar influence in the United States. The promised expose of “strings-attached donations to policy think tanks” was missing from the series.

The last episode in Hameed’s relations with CSIS occurred in May 1982, some weeks after he had left the center. Officers of the center contacted a number of Hameed’s friends as well as corporate executives in an effort to discredit him. In one case, a senior administration official’s help was sought to encourage Hameed to “leave town.”

Several corporations, after learning that Hameed had been fired, cut back their contributions to Georgetown University and made it clear that the reason was the treatment accorded Mazher Hameed.

Amos Jordan, asked to comment on Hameed’s charges, insisted that these various circumstances were coincidental and that Hameed’s departure related only to his performance. He denied that the center responded to lobby pressure: “I went out of my way to protect and sponsor Hameed despite the deficits. I am concerned that the center not have a reputation for being a Zionist foil.”

It was an unsettling, traumatic time for the scholar. In a short space of weeks, people from the pro-Israel magazine descended on the center-threatening an expose of petrodollar influence, warning about the center’s tax status under IRS regulations, questioning the funding of Hameed’s project. Preceding and following these events were the center’s suppression of the report, the personal harassment of Hameed, his associates and his friends-and his dismissal. If the coincidence of these events was pure happenstance, it was a remarkable coming together.

Recalling what he knew of Hameed’s tenure at CSIS, William Quandt, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a personal friend of Hameed’s said: “The way they terminated his whole relationship there was rather strange. He was very shabbily treated, to say the least.” Les Janka, former special assistant in the White House for Middle East affairs, said: “CSIS did not have the courage to put out under its own name a paper that made a significant contribution to public debate.”

“Blaming the Victim”

Dangers to academic freedom became more pronounced following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. Swept up in the national hysteria was Dr. Sami Al-Arian, a Palestinian-born veteran champion of Arab and Muslim human rights, who became the first tenured professor in American history to be fired for exercising the right of free speech.

Al-Arian acquired the distinction in December 2001 when University of South Florida (USF) President Judy Genshaft dismissed him from his faculty position as a professor of computer sciences. His offense: In an appearance on the television program, The O’Reilly Factor a few days after 9/11, host Bill O’Reilly accused him of associating with terrorists, quoting statements that Al-Arian had made thirteen years before in a speech off campus.

In the 1989 speech, Al-Arian, speaking to an audience consisting largely of Arab Americans, quoted in the Arabic language slogans then in use by Palestinians protesting Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, the most inflammatory being “Death to Israel. Revolution until victory.” Al-Arian responded to O’Reilly’s accusations: “When you say, ‘Death to Israel,’ you mean death to [Israeli] occupation, death to apartheid, death to oppression.” He denied that the slogan meant death to any human being, or to the actual state of Israel.

During the weeks following 9/11, Al-Arian spoke to several audiences of Christians and Jews in the Tampa area, denouncing the attacks on America, noting that Islam opposes violence and suicide, and declaring that the perpetrators of 9/11 could not have been “truly religious” men. Dr. Harry E. Vanden, a professor of political science at the University of South Florida who writes and lectures on terrorism, denies that Al-Arian supports terrorism: “I’ve heard Sami speak in my church. He talked about how 9/11 is wrong, an evil act. He went on The O’Reilly Factor to show that American Muslims weren’t in favor of this.” Vanden notes that Al-Arian “never had the chance” to express himself in the interview, which was dominated by O’Reilly’s frequent and numerous interruptions.

As the result of the O’Reilly appearance, Al-Arian received death threats, and harsh protests poured into the university from donors and alumni. Genshaft announced the suspension of Al-Arian with pay until she met with trustees to receive their recommendation on what to do. At the meeting, only Connie Mack, a trustee and former U.S. senator, voiced concern over the wisdom of denying academic freedom on the basis of criminal and threatening actions of others. When the discussion ended, Mack nevertheless joined other trustees in recommending dismissal. Only one trustee voted no.

Later, explaining her historic decision against academic freedom, Genshaft offered this excuse: “The fundamental question [is] how much disruption the university must endure because of the manner in which a professor exercises his right to express political and social views that are outside the scope of his employment.” When Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the brother of President George W. Bush, supported Genshaft’s decision, a New York Times editorial denounced both Bush and the university president: “Wartime is precisely the moment when unpopular views and the role of a university as an open forum for ideas must be most vigorously defended.” Even O’Reilly opposed Al-Arian’s dismissal, and he called for Genshaft’s resignation.

The USF episode was not the first time Al-Arian had been unfairly targeted. Self-styled terrorism expert Steven Emerson had mounted a decade-long campaign against Al-Arian and his associates. In a 1996 speech in St. Petersburg, Florida, Emerson accused “Palestinian radicals” at the university of being involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He did not reveal sources for the charge, and federal investigations yielded no evidence of any “Palestinian radical” wrongdoing. Arab American Institute James Zogby, who has long defended the human rights of Arab Americans and challenged Emerson’s credentials as a terrorism expert, said that Emerson “[has] made his life’s work discrediting Arab American and Muslim groups, and his obsession makes me uncomfortable.”

Despite his many setbacks, Al-Arian is tireless in his campaign for political and social justice. Much of his focus is on the plight of his brother-in-law, Dr. Mazen Al-Najjar, who is also Palestinian, who spent three years and seven months in a Florida jail on the basis of secret “evidence” and alleged ties to terrorism. Al-Najjar was released from jail December 15, 2000, when a federal judge ruled his detention unconstitutional. He was arrested again on November 24, 2001, after another court refused to overturn an order to deport Al-Najjar due to an expired visa. U.S. authorities said that, while he had nothing to do with 9/11 events, Al-Najjar’s detention nevertheless demonstrated the Justice Department’s “commitment to address terrorism.”

Randall Marshall, an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney who is working on behalf of Al-Najjar, remonstrated: “Al-Najjar has never been accused of a crime, yet he is being detained in solitary confinement under conditions more severe that those imposed on many convicted murderers.” New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis decried Al-Najjar’s treatment: “Could that happen in America? In John Ashcroft’s America it has happened…. At a time of national anxiety about Arabs and Muslims, Mr. Al-Najjar is a useful target: a Palestinian Muslim.” While serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, David Bonior (D-MI) was an outspoken opponent of secret evidence. Of the Al-Najjar case, Bonior could only say, “I’ve been in this business for thirty years, and I’ve never seen an injustice like this.”

“No Such Thing as Academic Integrity”

An early champion of Palestinian statehood, Francis A. Boyle is a professor of international law at the University of Illinois and a prolific writer on international legal issues, particularly those dealing with human rights. He lectures widely and frequently and often appears before international courts, sometimes representing clients there on a pro bono basis.

He is controversial at the university because of his outspoken and long-standing support of Palestinian rights and his sharp criticism of U.S. and Israeli policies in the Middle East. Friends believe he has paid a price for this advocacy, because he has been passed over several times for what would normally be routine increases in salary. He served as advisor to the PLO from 1987 to 1989, and he advised the Palestinian delegation to the Middle East peace negotiations in Washington, D.C., from 1991 to 1993.

During that time, Boyle urged the Palestinians to reject the proposal that eventually became the Oslo Accords. He warned: “They are offering you a Bantustan. As you know, the Israelis had very close relations with the Afrikaner Apartheid regime in South Africa. It appears they have studied the Bantustan system quite closely. So it is a Bantustan that they are offering you.” A decade after Boyle’s analysis, protesters around the world began making the same Israel-South Africa comparison. “Israel is an Apartheid State” has become a mantra for Palestinian sympathizers worldwide.

Boyle’s sharp analytical mind produced this indictment of Israel’s scofflaw conduct: “There are 149 substantive articles of the Fourth Geneva Convention that protect the rights of almost every one of these Palestinians living in occupied Palestine. The Israeli government is currently violating, and has been since 1967, almost each and every one of these.” He is equally critical of the United States’ role as peace broker in the region: “It can be fairly said that U.S. Middle East policy has not shown one iota of respect for international law.”

Boyle has maintained these positions for thirty years. He noted with dismay the tendency to stiffly Middle East debate in academic and other realms: “I have been accused of being everything but a child molester because of my public support for the Palestinian people. I have seen every known principle of academic integrity and academic freedom violated in order to suppress the basic rights of the Palestinian people. In fact, there is no such thing as academic integrity and academic freedom in the United States when it comes to asserting the rights of the Palestinian people under international law.”

Israel-Palestine Timeline

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History of the Israel Lobby


Alison Weir's book Against Our Better Judgement: How the U.S. was used to create Israel brings together meticulously sourced evidence to outline the largely unknown history of U.S.-Israel relations.


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Additional Resources

Book – The Israel Lobby

AIPAC Speeches by Policymakers

Magazine – Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Book – They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby

Book – Stealth Pacs: Lobbying Congress for Control of U.S. Middle East Policy

Book – The Passionate Attachment: America’s Involvement With Israel, 1947 to the Present

Book – The Lobby: Jewish political power and American foreign policy

Book – Fifty Years of Israel

Book – America and the founding of Israel: An investigation of the morality of America’s role

more resources

Organizations

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)

Council for the National Interest – Opposition to AIPAC

Anti-Defamation League

U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation

Muslim Public Affairs Council

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