Disregarding the factual errors of this screed (‘no findings of any wrongdoing?’) it is utterly frightening that the AAUP regards Al-Arian’s nihilistic behavior as merely ‘insubstantial to warrant serious consideration.’ This is an organization that fancies itself the leading voice for the rights of professors nationwide yet its response to Al-Arian’s terroristic madness is a collective shrug of the shoulders and some tired blather about academic freedom. Even after Al-Arian’s indictment the AAUP refused to retract its original report.

The United Faculty of Florida (UFF) has been another bitter-ender in its validation of Al-Arian. Immediately following Al-Arian’s arrest UFF presented a statement reading ‘UFF has never taken any position on Al-Arian’s public activities: his politics are his business. UFF’s position on the numerous allegations about his less-public life is that an accusation is not in itself proof…while the UFF membership has varying views of Professor Al-Arian we must for our own safety’s sake defend his freedom of speech and his right to due process. And this is larger than just academia. This nation fought a Revolutionary War for among other things freedom of speech and the right to due process.’


The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) released a statement in 2002 saying ‘If USF’s justification for firing Dr. Al- Arian is deemed legitimate both free speech and academic freedom on college campuses will be devastated.’ Not to be outdone the Middle Eastern Studies Association (MESA) wrote a letter to USF President Judy Genshaft stating ‘The Al-Arian case is about academic freedom. It is also about the basic first amendment right to freedom of speech.’

Then there are the professors of Middle Eastern Studies most prominently Georgetown’s John Esposito. In a letter to USF president Judy Genshaft following Al-Arian’s firing Esposito wrote in part ‘In all the years I have known him and known of [Al-Arian] he has been a consummate professional….Professor Al-Arian and his family are Palestinians. They have suffered and feel deeply about Palestine and the plight of the Palestinians….I must say I was stunned astonished and saddened by your decision to terminate Professor al-Arian….Having grown up in New York at a time when Jews and Italians were (and often still are) the subject of stereotyping and discrimination I am deeply concerned that Professor Al-Arian not be a victim of the most recent iteration anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry.’

The letter neglects to mention that Al-Arian’s daughter a Georgetown student has worked for Esposito as a research assistant.

Taking their cue from Esposito numerous other academics sent letters to Genshaft condemning her handling of the Al-Arian situation. Louis Cantori a professor of political science at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and self-described Middle East expert implored Genshaft ‘I urge you to reconsider your decision on the grounds that this case will not serve your own professional reputation very well and will certainly besmirch the reputation of your university.’

Anthony Sullivan professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan intoned ‘I consider your action to be shameful and a total capitulation to intense political pressures. You have spectacularly wronged a good man.’

The Fringe

As if the mainstream acceptance of Sami Al-Arian wasn’t scandalous enough this is where his story becomes truly surreal. Anyone with the misfortune of viewing the recent antiwar marches had to notice the seemingly incompatible alliances sprinkled throughout as communists feminists gays Greens and hard-line Muslims put aside whatever differences may have existed between them previously in order to form one coherent anarchistic voice. When disciples of the Taliban are marching lockstep with members of NOW you know you’ve got trouble. But this is exactly what occurred during the anti-war protests and also in the defense of Sami Al-Arian.


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