OpinionSchools & Higher Education

Israel-hating faculty train diplomats at Georgetown

They can also get an education from its university in Qatar—an odd location for a Jesuit school supposed to be rooted in Christian values, given Doha’s support for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Georgetown University. Credit: Weerawich/Shutterstock.
Georgetown University. Credit: Weerawich/Shutterstock.
Mitchell Bard
Mitchell Bard
Mitchell Bard is a foreign-policy analyst and an authority on U.S.-Israel relations who has written and edited 22 books, including The Arab Lobby, Death to the Infidels: Radical Islam’s War Against the Jews and After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine.

In the first week of the war, U.S. State Department officials began to protest their boss’s support for Israel. Since then, dozens more have sent dissent cables and signed statements criticizing U.S. policy, calling for a ceasefire and accusing Israel of “war crimes.”

Why are U.S. diplomats so hostile to Israel?

Consider where many get their education.

Perhaps the most prestigious place for diplomats to receive their training is Georgetown’s Walsh School of Foreign Service. Its founder, Edmund Walsh, a Roman Catholic priest, wanted to create a school to “prepare students for all major forms of foreign representation—whether commercial, financial, consular or diplomatic.”

Among the more than 150 faculty listed on the Walsh website is John Esposito, a longtime apologist for radical Islam and probably the best example of how Arab funding can have a malign impact on campus and beyond. Georgetown accepted $20 million in 2005 (unreported as required to the U.S. Department of Education) from anti-Zionist Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal to support the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (ACMCU).

Consider the irony of a Jesuit university hosting a center funded by someone from a country that discriminates against Christians. What about understanding Judaism? Esposito, the founding director, posted on his Facebook page a link to a petition by American Muslims objecting to an initiative “to build relationships of understanding, respect, and trust between North American Muslim and Jewish communities.” They called it a “betrayal of the Palestinian people.”

In its 2020 investigation of institutional compliance with reporting requirements, the Department of Education noted, “Prince Alwaleed’s agreement with Georgetown exemplifies how foreign money can advance a particular country’s worldview within U.S. academic institutions.”

It’s impossible to know what other donations have had an impact at Georgetown because no purpose is listed for any of the $900 million it has received from Arab sources.

Frequently cited for his expertise on Islam, Esposito said that before 9/11, “[Osama] Bin Laden is the best thing to come along, if you are an intelligence officer, if you are an authoritarian regime, or if you want to paint Islamist activism as a threat.”

Esposito is a BDS advocate (as are several other Walsh professors), a promotor of the canard comparing Israel to Afrikaner South Africa and a virulent critic of Israel’s war with Hamas. Just eight days after the Hamas massacre, Esposito signed a statement warning that Israel may engage in genocide. Eleven days after Oct. 7, he joined 20 Walsh professors from Georgetown Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine (FSJP) who signed a statement calling on the university to demand a ceasefire, but saying nothing about Hamas, the massacre or the hostages. It repeats the South Africa libel, said Israeli politicians bragged about “the atrocities they plan to commit,” and absurdly claimed students and faculty expressing opposition to “Israeli war crimes and mourning the dead are being silenced.” Esposito was also one of at least 22 Walsh professors from FSJP who wrote to Georgetown’s president, asking him to call for a ceasefire in Gaza and demanding “a halt to the grave violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law in the Gaza Strip.”

Nine years before the Hamas slaughter, a half-dozen Walsh faculty (and one emeritus) signed a statement accusing Israel of, among other things, “rationing Palestinian calorie intake at just above subsistence levels” and “massacres” in the Gaza Strip.

Also, long before Oct. 7, Nader Hashemi, the current director of the ACMCU, called for a boycott of Israel and compared it to South Africa. He is also a Hamas apologist. In 2018, he posted these tweets: “Which reminds me, please no more lectures about Hamas when Israeli fascists are in power” and “Hamas changes its strategy and looks to Mandela/Gandhi and MLK for inspiration.” In 2021, he tweeted, referring to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “Don’t talk to me about Hamas unless u r willing to talk about the moral equivalent of Hamas on the Israeli side who form a core part of Bibi’s coalition. Key difference: we ban Hamas while we arm/support their Israeli counterparts.” He refers to Israel’s war on Hamas as “genocide,” and while feminists have failed to condemn Hamas’s abuse of Israeli women, Hashemi’s complains that they aren’t speaking up for Gaza’s women.

Gözde Güran signed the Sociologists in Solidarity with Gaza and the Palestinian People statement, which condemns the latest violence by “the Israeli regime,” makes false statements about Israel’s use of white phosphorus and accuses Israel of “genocide.” Its only reference to the Oct. 7 massacre was to deride Israel for “claiming its actions are a justifiable response.”

In defending the boycott of Israel, the director of the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Fida Adely (who holds a chair named after an ambassador for the virulently anti-Israel Arab League), referred to the need to “end decades of occupation and repression of Palestinian human rights” and criticized dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians as marginalizing Palestinians. She participated in a teaching session on “The Unending War on the Children of Gaza.”

Jonathan Brown, the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Chair of Islamic Civilization, is another BDS supporter who says, “All the Arabs were ‘cleansed’ from what used to be [and still is] Yafa.” Referring to the death of a Palestinian killed by Israeli troops, he tweeted, “What never gave them a chance is the Israeli apartheid occupation.” At a symposium, he said, “The problem is that the Israeli political creature, the Israeli political establishment, has not told Jews in Israel that they are not allowed to take stuff that doesn’t belong to them, and that is, I think, a fundamental problem. … If you can tell people that your religious belief does not give you the right to take the possessions of someone else.” On March 21, he tweeted, “Israeli security forces are lunatics. Israel is insanely racist.”

Marwa Daoudy, associate professor and chair of Arab Studies, came up with a novel attack on Israel, accusing it of “ecocide” and “cultural genocide.” She derides “Biden’s complete and unconditional surrender to Israel” and repeats the falsehood about Israel stealing water from Palestinians for the benefit of “illegal settlers.” She called the speech by South Africa’s Foreign Minister accusing Israel of behaving like Afrikaner South Africa “beautiful” and repeated his statement, “‘Palestinians are denied the right to exist as human beings.’” She signed a letter to Georgetown’s president protesting his statement condemning the Hamas massacre because it did not mention the Palestinians. Writing about her family, she blames the Haganah and Irgun for the “expulsion” of Palestinians. In her version of history, no Arab invasion took place, and Israel is now killing, mutilating and starving children at “whim.”

Diplomats can also get an education from Georgetown University in Qatar, initially called Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar. It’s an odd location for a Jesuit school that is supposed to be rooted in Christian values, given Qatar’s support for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2014, the university received $59.5 million from Qatar to build the campus.

In 2017, a graduate student researching human rights and migrant labor in the Middle East was denied a visa to attend the school. As an undergraduate, she criticized the treatment of workers constructing the Georgetown campus in Doha.

The following year, the Qatar campus canceled a debate about the portrayal of god as a woman after a furor erupted when it was publicized. The university said it was a process issue but acknowledged that it must abide by Qatari law, which might have considered the subject blasphemy. Restrictions on free speech at the Washington, D.C., campus, where U.S. law applies, have earned the university the “Lifetime Censorship Award” from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression.

Among the faculty in Qatar is Palestinian American historian Abdullah Al-Arian, who says there’s a growing consensus that Israel is committing “genocide” in Gaza and wants to pursue an “ethnic cleansing campaign on the order of the Nakba” but is being forced to settle for reducing the Strip’s territory “through unprecedented destruction and a long-term military occupation.” He uses standard antisemitic jargon like “settler-colonial” state to describe Israel but couches much of his opinion by referring to what others say.

Law professor Noha Aboueldaha refers to “Israel’s brutal military assaults,” “atrocities” and the need “to dismantle the system of dehumanization of Palestinians.” She reposts the usual tweets attacking Israel, as well as her own accusing Israel of “collective punishment.” Like others, she misquotes Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to prove Israel’s “genocidal intent, crimes against humanity and war crimes.”

Ian Almond, a professor of World Literature, said on LinkedIn, “I’m sorry, but I don’t blame Hamas for this. If you let power do whatever it wants without ever checking or rebuking it, this is where you end up.” He claimed before Oct. 7, Palestinians made “non-violent” approaches to the border, where they were “met with violence—Israeli snipers killed over 200 of these peaceful protesters.” He found it “disturbing to see pictures of any women, Israeli or Palestinian, being dragged off by a crowd of jeering men,” ignoring that no Palestinian women were treated that way.

Historian Trish Kahle is a member of FSJP and a signatory to their ceasefire letter along with Al-Arian and Aboueldaha. While still a grad student at the University of Chicago, she wrote columns for SocialistWorker.org. In one, Kahle said Israel “mercilessly slaughtered” 1,000 Palestinians “in the open-air prison that is the Gaza Strip” and denounced the university’s investment in Israel. After Oct. 7, she signed a statement (along with 1,200 “scholars”) by “Feminists For a Free Palestine” accusing Israel of ethnic cleansing, “pinkwashing to justify genocide,” colonialism and the usual bilge.

I did not have the wherewithal to check the views of the entire faculty, but you get the drift of what students can learn from Georgetown to prepare themselves for foreign service.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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