The standards of academia continue to slide, as “academic freedom” and tenure have increasingly been used to shield faculty from accountability. The result has been widespread abuses that include the substitution of propaganda for scholarship, the misuse of the classroom to promote personal agendas, and the normalization of antisemitism on campus.
Some people may believe universities are interested in education, but they are even more interested in money. It is therefore not surprising they are solicitous of Arab states and individuals who have donated more than $5.1 billion dollars to influence their curricula and faculty. Harvard has raked in more than $100 million.
The sellout of academic values is exemplified by Harvard’s acceptance of $1.6 million from the “State of Palestine.” Could it be a coincidence that, in a case study of the university’s decline in standards, it hired Saeb Erekat, the Palestinians’ chief negotiator, to mentor students and give virtual seminars as a fellow in The Future of Diplomacy Project at the Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs? He is among the new fellows who faculty chair Nicholas Burns said “will strengthen our capacity to learn the lessons of effective diplomacy and statecraft.”
One hardly knows where to begin in digesting this astounding example of moral and academic myopia.
Given that Burns was among the peace processors with a career history of failure at the State Department, it may not be surprising that he would choose someone to teach diplomacy who has also been a failure as a negotiator.
If Harvard is interested in teaching students how to prevent the achievement of peace, they have picked the right man. Erekat is, after all, the person who has said, “I will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state,” and now denounces the peace agreement between Israel and the UAE.
But that’s not even the worst of Erekat’s sins.
Consider that Erekat is the secretary general of the Executive Committee of the PLO, an organization that was founded for the purpose of engaging in terror against Israel — and, to this day, incites and encourages violence against Jews. He has defended as “a social responsibility” the “pay-for-slay” policy of using American tax dollars (prior to implementation of the Taylor Force Act) to incentivize the murder of Israelis by providing generous payments to jailed terrorists and the families of suicide bombers.
Perhaps Erekat can give a lecture on how to promote terror, which students can apply on the streets of the United States.
As a serial liar, Erekat is uniquely qualified to teach duplicity — if that is a talent Harvard believes is useful in diplomacy. He is a particularly adept at using the “big lie” tactic, in which a lie, no matter how outrageous, will eventually be accepted as truth if it’s repeated often enough.
One of the best examples was his pernicious lie that Israel massacred at least 500 people in Jenin in 2002, and that 1,600 people, including women and children, were missing. It was a fabrication for which he naturally could produce no evidence, and yet he was given media platforms to repeatedly demonize Israel. The truth, according to the Palestinians’ own review committee, was that during fighting between Israeli forces and terrorists, 56 people were killed, 34 of whom were combatants. No women or children were reported missing.
He told a similar big lie in 2014 when he asserted that during Operation Protective Edge, launched to stop the thousands of rocket and missile attacks by Hamas terrorists, Israel killed 12,000 Palestinians, wounded another 12,000, and 96% of the casualties were civilians. Not even Israel’s worst detractors cited numbers remotely close to Erekat’s.
In 2011, Israel began demolition work on a hotel to make way for the planned construction of a Jewish housing project in the Sheikh Jarrah community of Jerusalem. The building was privately purchased in 1985 by an American businessman and had been vacant for almost a decade. Erekat claimed Israel was attempting to “ethnically cleanse Jerusalem from its Palestinian inhabitants, culture, and history.”
In another effort to delegitimize Israel, Erekat said “no state in the world connects its national identity to a religious identity.” This was another lie, as no fewer than 20 nations have established Islam as their state religion, and the draft constitution for a future state of Palestine also declares Islam will be the state religion.
Erekat has asserted his family is related to the Canaanites to prove the Palestinians predated the Jews in the Land of Israel. Others have also made this specious claim, but Arabs have lived in the area for only about 1,000 years, not 5,000. Most of today’s Palestinians, including Erekat, are descendants of tribes from other Arab lands. In Erekat’s case, his family came from a tribe that lives in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. They moved to Palestine in 1860.
While criticizing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he actually described his own propaganda strategy. “There’s a saying,” he said, “that if you don’t stop a man who is lying after 24 hours, the lies turn into facts.”
Yes, Harvard students can learn a great deal from Saeb Erekat. The rest of us have discovered how little value Harvard places on scholarship, morality, and honesty.