Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Upcoming Event At Georgetown University

(All emphases by Always On Watch)
"It is an object of vast magnitude that systems of education should be adopted and pursued which may not only diffuse a knowledge of the sciences but may implant in the minds of the American youth the principles of virtue and of liberty and inspire them with just and liberal ideas of government and with an inviolable attachment to their own country."

-- Noah Webster (On Education of Youth in America, 1790)
Reference: The Learning of Liberty, Prangle and Prangle (126);
original Noah Webster: Schoolmaster to America, Harry Warfel (42)
From the February 12, 2006 edition of the Washington Post:
Why Is Georgetown Providing a Platform for This Dangerous Group?

"This month Georgetown University plans to host the annual conference of an anti-Israel propaganda group called the Palestine Solidarity Movement (PSM). The PSM certainly is controversial. It is also dangerous.

"The purported aim of the PSM is to encourage divestment from Israel. To this end, its conferences boast a cavalcade of anti-Israel speakers whose speeches often degenerate into anti-Semitism. At the 2004 conference at Duke University in North Carolina, for example, keynote speaker Mazin Qumsiyeh referred to Zionism as a 'disease.' Workshop leader Bob Brown deemed the Six-Day War 'the Jew War of '67.' Not to be outdone, Nasser Abufarha praised the terrorist activities of Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

"The PSM maintains that it is a separate organization from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), which sends foreign students to the West Bank and Gaza to foment anti-Israeli sentiment.

"All the same, the two groups seem to have intimate ties. At the 2004 PSM conference, for instance, the International Solidarity Movement ran a recruitment meeting called 'Volunteering in Palestine: Role and Value of International Activists.' In that session, the organization's co-founder, Huwaida Arraf, distributed recruitment brochures and encouraged students to enlist in the ISM, which, she acknowledged, cooperates with Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine....

"In the aftermath of the 2004 PSM meeting, conference organizer Rann Bar-On -- who is an ISM member -- informed the Duke student newspaper, 'I personally consider the Palestine Solidarity Movement conference a huge success, as it brought about a tripling of the number of Duke students visiting Israel-Palestine this year, making Duke the most represented American university in the West Bank this summer.' By Bar-On's own admission, recruitment into the ISM is the PSM's raison d'etre.

"In agreeing to host the PSM from Feb. 17 to Feb. 19, Georgetown can't even claim that its regard for free speech and expression trumps all. In 2005 the university's conference center refused to host an anti-terrorism conference sponsored by America's Truth Forum on the grounds that it was 'too controversial.' So why is free speech and expression of cardinal importance now? Perhaps it is related to the recent $20 million donation from Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, a prominent financier of the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. If Georgetown President John J. DeGioia is concerned for the safety of his student body, he will reject the 2006 Palestine Solidarity Movement conference. Pleasing donors is an important duty of a university president, but preventing the recruitment of Georgetown students into a dangerous, pro-terrorist organization is a more vital obligation."

--Eric Adler
--Jack Langer
are respectively, a lecturer in the history department at Rice University and a doctoral candidate in history at Duke University.
See more about Prince Alaweed's funding here.

What is the take of Georgetown's Imam Yahya Hendi on this upcoming conference? Dr. Hendi has previously stated the following:
"I have always worked to bridge the gap between Judaism, Christianity and Islam. I have spoken against Osamah Ben laden and like wise. I have been and will continue to promote true respect of women in Muslim countries and the right of Christians to be fully equal under the law in those countries. I have traveled around the world in defence of American Jews....

"My life was threatened many times because of my views and I was called names like 'traitor to Islam; and a 'sellout' to Americans because I spoke in attack of those who dare to attack America. I still can not travel to some of those countries out of fear for my life...."
According to this December 2005 article by Northern Virginiastan,
"The Georgetown University Conference Hotel decides against hosting a conference of the People's Truth Forum for fear of reprisals from Muslim students at Georgetown University..."
Is there less danger in hosting the PSM's conference?

60 Comments:

At 2/14/2006 8:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Monty Python, "Life of Brian"...

Brian- Are you the Judean People's Front?

Reg- F' off!

Brian- What?

Reg- Judean People's Front! We're The People's Front of Judea! Judean People's Front, G_d!

Rogers- Blighters...

Brian- Can I...join your group?

Reg- No, p_ss off!

Brian- I didn't want to sell this stuff, it's only a job! I hate the Romans as much as anybody!

All in PFJ except Brian- Ssch! Ssch! Ssch! Ssch! Ssch!

Brian- Oh.

Judith- Are you sure?

Brian- Oh, dead sure. I hate the Romans already.

Reg- Listen! If you wanted to join the PFJ, you'd have to have really hate the Romans.

Brian- I do!

Reg- Oh, yeah, how much?

Brian- A lot!

Reg- Right, you're in. Listen, the only people we hate more than the Romans, are the F'n Judean People's Front.

All in PFJ except Brian- Yeah!

Judith- Splitters!

Rogers- And the Judean Popular People's Front!

All in PFJ except Brian- Yeah! Splitters!

Loretta- And the People's Front of Judea!

All in PFJ except Brian- Yeah! Splitters!

Reg- What?

Loretta- The People's Front of Judea. Splitters!

Reg- WE are the People's Front of Judea!

Loretta- Oh. I thought we were the Popular Front.

Reg- People's Front! God...

Rogers- Whatever happened to the Popular Front, Reg?

Reg- He's over there.

All in PFJ except Brian - Splitter!


-FJ

 
At 2/14/2006 10:03 AM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Jesuits are still pissing you off, hey AOW.

 
At 2/14/2006 10:42 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
I'm not much into Monty Python. Guess I'll have to watch a few of those films.

 
At 2/14/2006 10:52 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Duck,
The Jesuits don't particularly bother me.

I didn't attend GU. But in 1993, my husband had brain surgery at Georgetown's Medical Center--a fine facility, especially for cancer and neuro treatment; I noted the presence of nuns and priests, but that presence wasn't overwhelming, by any means.

And, of course, GU's law school also has an excellent reputation.

For movie goers and film buffs, GU is also quite well known as part of the setting for The Exorcist too. For a time, those steps were quite the tourist attraction.

What I do find ironic right now is the partnership of Prince Alaweed and the Jesuits of GU. I'm guessing that the university is no longer the bastion of Catholicism as it once was.

 
At 2/14/2006 11:09 AM, Blogger Bassizzzt said...

Sounds like a dozen eggs and my presence are in due order. I may get arrested, but it will be worth it.

 
At 2/14/2006 11:15 AM, Blogger City Troll said...

If you REALLY want get into the GU thing go to Israpundit the orginizer of the GU events and one of the main posters over at Israpundit have had an ongoing fued which has gone as far as lawsuits and double retractions and refusals of retractions. Thats wher I first picked up on this issue

 
At 2/14/2006 11:17 AM, Blogger City Troll said...

AOW if you want to appreciate Monty Python get copies of the series NOT the movies. The series were bizarily excellant I would also recomend Faulty Towers.

 
At 2/14/2006 1:40 PM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,1707715,00.html

A very good article on banning of saccriligious films in Britain recently.

Just a reminder that religious censorship is nothing unique to Islam.

The demonstrations...that's really about larger issues fueled by muslim paranoia.

 
At 2/14/2006 4:19 PM, Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

Well lets see why would they allow or encourage the PMS'ers ..well they know the opposing viewpoints come from Jews not Mooslims so ..what do they need fear?..Either they will encounter nothing or peaceful petition and protest. Shame on them...ppfftt!

 
At 2/14/2006 6:10 PM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

Why is it that every leftist is anti-Semite?

 
At 2/14/2006 7:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

mr ducky,

Was "Life of Brian" in any way sacreligious??? Think it would have aired in Palesatine if it was remade to be as "Life of Muphta"?

You complain when sacreligious "porn" is censored. Grow up.

-FJ

 
At 2/14/2006 7:49 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Troll,
Thank you for that excellent information on Israpundit! The exact link is here.

I missed that particular O'Reilly Factor. No wonder those two fellows, Eric Adler and Jack Langer, wrote that scathing letter to the WaPo!

 
At 2/14/2006 7:55 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
I'm reading Ivanhoe right now. Interesting insights about anti-Semitism those many centuries ago.

Some of what is in Ivanhoe has parallels with The Merchant of Venice. No doubt Scott drew on Merchant when he penned his saga.

 
At 2/14/2006 8:46 PM, Blogger Iran Watch said...

So does this mean that they will no longer accept money from Israel? Palestine doesn't even have the money to pay government workers and its going to get a lot worse.

 
At 2/15/2006 4:59 AM, Anonymous SaxaCalHoya said...

"In agreeing to host the PSM from Feb. 17 to Feb. 19, Georgetown can't even claim that its regard for free speech and expression trumps all. In 2005 the university's conference center refused to host an anti-terrorism conference sponsored by America's Truth Forum on the grounds that it was "too controversial." So why is free speech and expression of cardinal importance now?"

Those simply aren't the facts. Georgetown University did not cancel the event. The event was canceled by Marriott International, Inc., which independently operates the Georgetown University Conference Center on the campus of Georgetown. Mr. Adler and Mr. Langer failed to mention that point in their opinion piece.

Please see the following article:

Marriott Rejects Terror Summit
The Hoya, December 6, 2005

"We reserve the right to not accept business if we feel it puts our guests, our employees, our hotels and our surrounding communities at any kind of risk," said Roger Conner, vice president of communications for Marriott International, Inc. "In this case, based on those concerns, we decided to not accept the business."

I urge you all to learn more about Georgetown's position on the conference from Georgetown, not by outsiders who have no envolvement with the University and have a history of aggitating through the use of propaganda. Georgetown University has been clear in its position.

 
At 2/15/2006 6:11 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Saxacalhoya,
Thank you for stopping by with those links. The second one links to Hoya, GT's official publication.

From this source, which you may not put credence in, but I'm including some of the info here:

Jeffrey Epstein, President of the People’s Truth Forum, October 19, 2005: “I would like to inquire as to what your event seating capacity is. I’m looking for something in the range of 1000 seats.”

Marriott Georgetown University Conference Hotel fit the bill for a symposium. Epstein met in Washington with Leah Mayo, who claimed to be the sales manager of the hotel. The purpose of the meeting was to sign the contract and provide a deposit check to secure the facility. A contract was written up. While minor details were being worked out, Mayo seemed to be getting overly anxious about something. As she paraded between her supervisor’s office and the meeting room, tensions started to rise. Without explanation, the meeting ended with nothing signed.

Patrick Hardy, Sales Manager for Marriott Georgetown, November 11, 2005: “I need to inform you that you will not be permitted to host your event on the hotel grounds, because your organization is not only too controversial, but the venue is not appropriate for this type of function. Marriott corporate headquarters was contacted about this and was supportive of our decision.”

Peter Cantone, General Manager for Marriott Georgetown, November 14, 2005: “Your event is too controversial to be held on the property. This decision is based upon business considerations, as the event would call for heightened security since protestors might be attracted from both the student body and off campus. I’m concerned that these protestors might block the main hotel entrance, leading to confrontations with hotel guests and/or room cancellations. Our decision was made due to the objectionable content on your group’s website. Marriott corporate headquarters did not play a role in our decision.”

The People's Truth Forum (PTF) is a non-partisan, fact-based organization founded with in order to educate the public on issues concerning national security. To do this, PTF creates panels and symposiums featuring only top experts in the field of counter-terrorism. PTF’s website is no more than a news clearinghouse that utilizes published stories from all mainstream media sources. There is nothing illegitimate about what this group does or with whom this group associates.

That said, why would this hotel -- a hotel that is part of an upstanding corporate chain -- bar a well-intentioned group such as this from using its facilities? What could make them so afraid? The answer came two days later.

Keith Thomas, Marriott Special Services Department, Corporate Headquarters, November 16, 2005: “Due to the high density of Muslim students on the Georgetown campus, members of the staff at Marriott Georgetown were afraid of the potential for violent protests, injured hotel employees and property damage. This is the official stance of the Marriott Corporation.”


So, technically, GU itslef did not cancel the PTF, but problems with Muslims in GT's student body were cited. Also, GT did not rush in to aid PTF with room and board--at least, as far as I can tell. Wasn't the PTF conference completely cancelled? You would know better than I.

And isn't the PSM conference just as "controversial" as PTF? Hoya shows, with its many links, that there is a bit of a storm over this upcoming conference.

I noted through the links you provided that GT states that the federal government's position is that PSM is not a terrorist organization. Other sources seem to indicate, however, some disturbing ties which PSM has.

As I see it, if GT is going to host the PSM conference, the university should also have made more effort to host the PTF conference. Just my opinion, as "an outsider," as you put it.

 
At 2/15/2006 6:21 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Saxacalhoya,
From your second link:
Students for Justice in Palestine, as a student group with access to benefits, has the right to host the conference and its speakers under Georgetown's free speech and expression policy.

In its entirety, from a link embedded in your second link:

Critics Step Up Protests, but PSM Still Coming to Campus

Correction Appended

By D. Pierce Nixon
Hoya Staff Writer
Friday, January 27, 2006; Page A1

There could be a storm brewing on campus.

Georgetown’s decision last month to permit the Palestine Solidarity Movement to hold its fifth annual conference on campus in February has been criticized by critics who charge that the group is tied to anti-Israeli and terrorist groups.

Representatives of the PSM have denied the charges and are moving ahead with plans to hold the conference from Feb. 17-19.

Questions have arisen over the group’s tactics and official position on the use of terrorism as a political tactic, as well as its relationship with other pro-Palestinian groups, specifically an organization known as the International Solidarity Movement that also advocates Palestinian self-determination.

PSM spokesperson Nadeem Muaddi said in an interview that the PSM and ISM are two separate organizations. He said that the confusion of the two groups may stem from the fact that “the ISM is a high-profile organization,” that pursues the same goals as the PSM.

David Staples, an official at the State Department, said that neither ISM or PSM are on the government’s list of terrorist groups.

“As for a [State Department] position on either organization,” Staples said, “I don’t believe there is one.”

Bill Levinson, a columnist for the pro-Israel Web site Israpundit.com, has sent repeated e-mails to administrators at Georgetown listing charges against PSM and detailing what he believes are the group’s true intentions for its conference.

“The PSM is [lying] to Georgetown’s administration and the Georgetown community about its true agenda, which is to destroy a country that is friendly to the United States,” he said, referring to Israel.

Students for Justice in Palestine, the student group at Georgetown that is hosting the event, supports Palestinian self-determination, according to the group’s Web site. Neither SJP nor PSM have official positions advocating the destruction of Israel.

“There is always going to be a place for these Jewish citizens,” Muaddi said. “Jews also have the right to self-determination.”

Muaddi added that the PSM does not seek “the end of Israel as a political entity in the Middle East.” He did, however, cite Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the barrier being constructed along the West Bank as “violations of international law” which he said must be rectified.

Another source of contention is the PSM’s support of divestment, or encouraging corporations and universities to withdraw their financial investments from Israel.

The strategy has gained increasing traction in the years since the PSM began its push for conscious boycotting of Israeli goods at its first conference in February 2002 at the University of California at Berkeley. Muaddi said that following a similar conference at the University of Michigan in October of that year, student governments at Wayne State University and the University of Michigan-Dearborn passed resolutions supporting the strategy.
Other groups supporting the effort include the American Presbyterian Church, he said.

Muaddi said the PSM prefers working with universities and churches to gain support because the nonviolent nature of divestment is more compatible with such groups.

“We condemn violence in all its forms,” Muaddi said.

But Muaddi declined to condemn suicide bombings, saying that it would not be right “to criticize Palestinians for taking part in violence when the Israeli forces are taking part in violence.”

University President John J. DeGioia has voiced his opposition to divestment even after increasing pressure from area Jewish groups.

“Some people have asked me if Georgetown will consider the [Palestine Solidarity Movement’s] call for divestment from Israel,” DeGioia said in a university press release. “The answer to that question is no.”

Greg Goldberg (COL ’08), president of the Georgetown-Israel Alliance, said he feels that divestment prevents progress.

“We feel that to divest is against constructive dialogue and is an attempt to remove Israel from the debate,” he said.

In spite of the dispute over the legitimacy of divestment as strategy, several members of the campus community supported the right of PSM to speak out on the issue.

“Even extreme groups have a right to express their opinion,” GIA member Jonathan Aires (SFS ’06) said.

Attendance at the PSM’s last conference, held at Ohio State University, was estimated at 600 people, Muaddi said. Free housing has been offered to attendees of the Georgetown conference.

Several students living off campus, as well as people in the area who are “sympathetic to the cause” have offered room, Muaddi said.

Accusations about the PSM’s connection to terrorism or anti-Israel subversion have also spurred a re-examination of the university’s policy regarding freedom of speech on campus.

Georgetown’s policies “lead us to a bias for more speech, rather than less speech” said Todd Olson, vice president for student affairs.

“In our academic community, this will often mean that controversial ideas — even ideas offensive to some in our community — are part of the discourse,” Olson said.


And however they may feel about PSM, many campus groups have decided to fight back against the organization peacefully.

Pro-Israeli campus groups such as GIA are planning an event called “Mothers for Peace” to take place Feb. 8, Aires said. The event will feature two mothers — a Palestinian and Israeli — speaking about prospects for peace.

CORRECTION:The article “Critics Step Up Protests, but PSM Still Coming to Hilltop” (THE HOYA, Jan. 27, 2006, A1) incorrectly stated that the Palestine Solidarity Movement’s most recent conference was held at Ohio State University. The conference was actually held at Duke University. The article also incorrectly stated that PSM spokesperson Nadeem Muaddi said that the International Solidarity Movement “pursues the same goals as the PSM.”


Free housing has been offered to attendees of the Georgetown conference. But not to PTF? I don't know.

 
At 2/15/2006 6:31 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

From this source:

1/25/2006 8:59:00 PM
Georgetown president: No to divestment

by Eric Fingerhut
Staff Writer

The president of Georgetown University has unequivocally rejected divesting from Israel, just a month before a conference with that goal comes to the District campus.

In his opening remarks at his annual "town hall meeting" with faculty last Friday, Georgetown President John DeGioia said that he has been asked recently if he will consider the call of the Palestine Solidarity Movement ‹ which will hold its conference at Georgetown from Feb. 17-19 ‹ to divest from the Jewish state.

"The answer to that question is no," he said. "I do not support divestment from Israel."

DeGioia said that the "appropriate way" for Georgetown to address the situation in the Middle East is through "dialogue, research and intellectual discovery."

He then dismissed the comparison between Israel and South Africa that the PSM, among others, has made.

DeGioia said he was "deeply involved" in the issues surrounding divestment from South Africa in the 1980s, and "speaking personally, I do not feel that the practice of apartheid is comparable to the complex set of issues involving many parties in the Middle East."

DeGioia's remarks were released by the university's communications office and are posted on the school's Web site.

The day before his divestment remarks, DeGioia defended the university's decision to host the conference in a meeting with students. According to the student newspaper The Hoya, DeGioia said that the school's policy on speech and expression makes it clear that Georgetown's decision to hold the gathering does not necessarily mean that it endorses the group's message.

"We believe the best response to controversial, even offensive speech, is more speech," the paper quoted DeGioia as saying.

The divestment statement pleased both local Jewish leaders and Georgetown pro-Israel students.

"The university statement is a devastating blow to the divestment movement and those inappropriately comparing apartheid in South Africa to the Palestinian-Israeli dispute today," said American Jewish Committee Washington-area director David Bernstein.

Anti-Defamation League Washington regional director David Friedman praised DeGioia for being "direct and forthright" in his rejection of divestment.

"It expresses very clearly where the university stands on this," said Friedman, who along with Bernstein met last Friday with Georgetown officials to discuss Jewish community concerns about the conference.

Both came away from the meeting satisfied that the school, said Friedman, has been "doing a lot of the right things" prior to the event. These include, he said, "taking appropriate steps on security" and ensuring that the PSM would not be able to restrict access to the conference.

DeGioia's statement came three days after he met with close to a dozen students who went on Birthright Israel trips to the Jewish state over winter break. The Georgetown president had also recently returned from a trip to Israel, spending a few days there last month meeting with leaders of Israeli universities to discuss increased study abroad.

DeGioia and the students shared notes on the trip, and also discussed the PSM conference. While students at the meeting said DeGioia did not state his view on divestment at the time, some said they got the impression DeGioia was uncomfortable with PSM's agenda. They encouraged him to express his feelings publicly about the conference.

Jewish Student Association president Scott Weinstein said DeGioia's trip to Israel demonstrated his support for the Jewish state.

The meeting, Weinstein said, "helped him to realize there are concerns in the Jewish community about the conference."

"We're very pleased [with DeGioia's statement] because we knew he felt that way but didn't know if the entire campus knew he felt that way," said Weinstein, a senior. "It was important for him to say that."

Senior Jonathan Aires, chair of the spring 2006 "IFest" ‹ the pro-Israel initiative planned for this semester ‹ added that he was pleased that DeGioia not only was "speaking up" about his opposition to divestment, but also had taken positive steps to build a cooperative relationship with Israel through his December trip.

"We've felt a little under siege," said sophomore and Georgetown Israeli Alliance president Greg Goldberg. DeGioia's statement "says a lot about where the school stands."

Meanwhile, a PSM spokesperson, said that the organization believes DeGioia is "mistaken."

"We respect his opinion, but we're going to keep pressuring for divestment on Georgetown's campus," said PSM spokesperson Nadeem Muaddi, adding that the group sees "similarities" between South African apartheid and Israel today and that perhaps DeGioia "doesn't know enough" about the current situation in the Middle East.

 
At 2/15/2006 7:29 AM, Anonymous SaxaCalHoya said...

Always on Watch--thank you for your comments and letting me share my thoughts as well. Just a few points in response:

- The Hoya is a student-run newspaper established in 1920 and the University has no editorial role in its publication, so considering it "official" isn't completely accurate.

- The link you provided reaffirms the fact that Georgetown didn't cancel the America's/People's Truth Forum, which Mr. Adler and Mr. Langer tried to infer. My intent was to add an important piece of context to their assertion that they intentionally chose to exclude.

- The assertion that Marriott made regarding Muslims students on campus was seen as being extremely offensive. There is no history of violence on the Georgetown campus in the ways they tried to suggest (from any group in the student body).

- What is lost in the comparison of the two situations is the difference between America's/People's Truth Forum and the PSM Conference; the ATF/PTF was an external group trying to rent conference facilities on campus from Marriott and the PSM Conference is an event being sponsored by an internal student organization, Georgetown University Students for Justice in Palestine in campus facilities. The distinction is important.

- I wouldn't say it's a "firestorm," most of the agitation seems to be coming from outside the University and can be traced to two individuals Lee Kaplan and Bill Levinson. I believe the majority of Georgetown student's position can be seen in this editorial by the Hoya. Also, many students have also taken the opportunity to organize counter- and cross-programming (here's an example). Washington Jewish Week has also weighed in saying "Jewish groups on campus, meanwhile, have been stepping up their pro-Israel activities. No one's trying to shut down PSM, nor should anyone. Free speech on campus must prevail." So the sentiment seems to be more speech, not less.

- With regards to the terrorist organizations claims, the link on the University's site seems to be clear and was reiterated by the Georgetown administrator on the O'Reilly show in which he stated that Georgetown has been and is in contact with the FBI and Department of State about those claims. I would simply suggest to those making the allegations to share their work with federal law enforcement officials.

Hope this is helpful and I look forward to your thoughts.

 
At 2/15/2006 8:31 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Saxacalhoya,
Thank you for the correction about Hoya.

The assertion that Marriott made regarding Muslims students on campus was seen as being extremely offensive. There is no history of violence on the Georgetown campus in the ways they tried to suggest (from any group in the student body).

I'm glad to learn the info in both the above statements. So, why do YOU think that Marriott backed off their reason for canceling the PTF hosting?

Is it true that attendees of the PSM conference can get room and board through the GU student body? If so, was that same courtesy available to PTF? Or does that matter insignificant?

While PSM may not be officially designated as a terrorist organization, from what I've read, some disturbing connections have been mentioned. One would hope that the upcoming conference is not a recruiting tool. Previous PSM conferences may give a clue about that issue.

I see the distinction to which you referred. Was there not enough support from the internal organization to effect the PTF conference? Perhaps the cancellation was just a matter of PTF's not being able to find a facility. Were an internal student organization to invite PTF, I would hope that a PTF conference would be hosted. Is there any internal movement to do just that?

It seems to me that if a university is going to be an open forum for the expression of all ideas that all ideas ought to have eqaul treatment, insofar as is possible--the prevailing of free speech, as abovementioned.

What I'm having a hard time understanding is how the PTF conference could be considered more of a security threat than the PSM conference? No matter who said it, the idea that Muslims will riot if PTF comes in doesn't speak well of either the Muslim students nor of the university itself--even if the excuse made was a false one.

I think that it's natural for any to question what has been the impact of Prince Alaweed's donation. Regardless of an institution's ideals, the influx of such a large sum of money can certainly influence that institution. It's not as if the House of Saud is squeaky clean with regard to recognizing varying ideologies.

Pardon any lack of clarity in expressing my thoughts. I'm in a hurry to get off to work right now.

 
At 2/15/2006 9:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think people fighting the "long war" against the Islamization of western culture might be interested in the following article, possibly "disinformation", that treats to the major differences between Islamic sects and some background on what created them. This article also explain "how" the Sunni's have managed to prevent any "reformation of" or significant "changes to" Islamic thought over millenia.

Roadmap to prevention of a splintering Islam

...an excerpt:

Nonetheless, social turbulences have in the past century thrown up a number of writers who have advocated the abandonment of authoritative scholarship. The most prominent figures in this campaign were Muhammad Abduh and his pupil Muhammad Rashid Rida. Dazzled by the triumph of the West, and informed in subtle ways by their own well-documented commitment to Freemasonry, these men urged Muslims to throw off the shackles of taqlid, and to reject the authority of the Four Schools. Today in some Arab capitals, especially where the indigenous tradition of orthodox scholarship has been weakened, it is common to see young Arabs filling their homes with every hadith collection they can lay their hands upon, and poring over them in the apparent belief that they are less likely to misinterpret this vast and complex literature than Imam al-Shafi'i, Imam Ahmad, and the other great Imams. This irresponsible approach, although still not widespread, is predictably opening the door to sharply divergent opinions, which have seriously damaged the unity, credibility and effectiveness of the Islamic movement, and provoked sharp arguments over issues settled by the great Imams over a thousand years ago. It is common now to see young activists prowling the mosques, criticising other worshippers for what they believe to be defects in their worship, even when their victims are following the verdicts of some of the great Imams of Islam. The unpleasant, Pharisaic atmosphere generated by this activity has the effect of discouraging many less committed Muslims from attending the mosque at all. No-one now recalls the view of the early ulama, which was that Muslims should tolerate divergent interpretations of the Sunnah as long as these interpretations have been held by reputable scholars. As Sufyan al-Thawri said: ‘If you see a man doing something over which there is a debate among the scholars, and which you yourself believe to be forbidden, you should not forbid him from doing it.’ The alternative to this policy is, of course, a disunity and rancour which will poison and cripple the Muslim community from within.

In a Western-influenced global culture in which people are urged from early childhood to think for themselves and to challenge established authority, it can sometimes be difficult to muster enough humility to recognise ones own limitations. We are all a little like Pharaoh: our egos are by nature resistant to the idea that anyone else might be much more intelligent or learned than ourselves. The belief that ordinary Muslims, even if they know Arabic, are qualified to derive rulings of the Shariah for themselves, is an example of this egotism running wild. To young people proud of their own judgement, and unfamiliar with the complexity of the sources and the brilliance of authentic scholarship, this can be an effective trap, which ends by luring them away from the orthodox path of Islam and into an unintentional agenda of provoking deep divisions among the Muslims. The fact that all the great scholars of the religion, including the hadith experts, themselves belonged to madhhabs, and required their students to belong to madhhabs, seems to have been forgotten. Self-esteem has won a major victory here over common sense and Islamic responsibility.


-FJ

 
At 2/15/2006 10:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can there be any wonder why the Saudi's are investing so heavily in university systems around the world to promote Islamic "scholarship" and funding "Chairs" for Islamic study?

-FJ

 
At 2/15/2006 1:08 PM, Blogger Gindy said...

"Perhaps it is related to the recent $20 million donation from Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, a prominent financier of the families of Palestinian suicide bombers."

I think that is the instrumental sentence in this post. It says a lot to me.

 
At 2/15/2006 2:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You mean the same Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal who has (or had) investments in Amazon, AOL/Time Warner, Apple Computers, Boeing, Citigroup, Coca Cola, Compaq, Disneyland Paris, eBay, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Ford, George V Hotel, Paris, Gillette, McDonald's, News Corporation, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Walt Disney.

And the same Prince who has donated $20 million to the Louvre and has also made donations to President George Bush Sr. Scholarship fund established by Philips Exeter Academy and the Carter Center for Peace and Health Programs in Africa.

But, I guess believing unfounded quotes on the Internet, such as this:

"Perhaps it is related to the recent $20 million donation from Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, a prominent financier of the families of Palestinian suicide bombers."

... is the best way to inform oneself in the age of Google. Also, before somebody repeats the Saudi telethon allegation, visit the White House website for their comments:

Q Ari, on the Saudi telethon, the President asked Arab states to stop inciting the violence on state-owned media. This telethon certainly looked like incitement to violence. It was on state-owned media. And so I have two questions. One, is that telethon in accord with what the President asked of Arab states? And, two, do we believe the Saudis when they say none of this money will be going to suicide or homicide --

MR. FLEISCHER: According to the information that we have about the telethon, and the assurances that we have received from the Saudi government, the money is raised to help with the broader humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people. Something the United States is committed to. The United States provides assistance, financial assistance for the Palestinian people.

So the simple granting of money to the Palestinian people cannot, on its face, be said to be support of terrorism. The Saudi telethon, as they have told it to us, is to provide assistance to the Palestinian people, and that no money is going to go to provide the homicide bombers with any assistance from the Saudi government. That is the word we have from the Saudi government, and I pass that along.

 
At 2/15/2006 3:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, if you can't trust Wikipedia, who can you trust?

Telethon's

-FJ

 
At 2/15/2006 3:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least Georgetown is getting its' share of the prince's money...

Hoya Hoya

-FJ

 
At 2/15/2006 3:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Princely philanthropy

-FJ

 
At 2/15/2006 3:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ooops, wrong link

Princely Philanthropy

-FJ

 
At 2/15/2006 3:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for making my point FJ.

 
At 2/15/2006 3:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

de nada...

Hey folks, tomorrow night's probably your only chance to hear a lecture by a "peace activist" and former roomate and associate of al-Quaeda's #2 man (al-Zawahri) at Georgetown. Get your tickets, while they're hot...

Georgtown Events

-FJ

 
At 2/15/2006 4:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder what kind of "peace activist" joins a group like Jemaah Islamia, has ties to high ranking al queada, and then tries to convince the west that ALL of Islam is the problem, and NOT just a few radical elements. Hmmmm.

-FJ

 
At 2/15/2006 4:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and operates under a pseudonym...

and once dreamed of becoming a martyr himself...

pseudo-Tawfik Hamid

-FJ

 
At 2/15/2006 4:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love googling. It's kinda like lining up Odyseus' axe handles before meeting the suitors... have conspiracy, will travel. Radical Islamicist group meets at Georgetown... peace activist friend of al queada higher-ups shows up at Georgetown to deliver a lecture during the same week... my, what a co-inky-dink.

-FJ

 
At 2/15/2006 5:14 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
Wow! Here I've been at work all day, and you've done the research which I haven't had time to do. Thank you.

 
At 2/15/2006 6:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're welcome...

More on Gama'a al-Islamiyya, the organization the "peace activist" speaking at Georgetown once belonged to in Egypt... (originator's of the 1st WTC bombing).

-FJ

 
At 2/15/2006 10:26 PM, Anonymous SaxaCalHoya said...

Always on watch--good questions.

Is it true that attendees of the PSM conference can get room and board through the GU student body? If so, was that same courtesy available to PTF? Or does that matter insignificant?

-Again, the PSM and ATF/PTF situations are not the same. Georgetown University policy distinguishes between internal, external and co-sponsored events. The PSM Conference is an event sponsored internally by a student organization, whereas, the ATF/PTF was an external entity trying to rent facilities within the conference center. Just as a resident of an apartment building has access to facilities and resources, a guest would not.

I see the distinction to which you referred. Was there not enough support from the internal organization to effect the PTF conference? Perhaps the cancellation was just a matter of PTF's not being able to find a facility. Were an internal student organization to invite PTF, I would hope that a PTF conference would be hosted. Is there any internal movement to do just that?

-ATF/PTF contact was directly with Marriott regarding the renting of facilities, this transaction/negotiation was not made public to the University's community until the cancellation was reported in The Hoya. If an internal group were to host the organization, the same policies and procedures that the organizers of the PSM Conference would need to be followed. No internal movement has been reported.

What I'm having a hard time understanding is how the PTF conference could be considered more of a security threat than the PSM conference? No matter who said it, the idea that Muslims will riot if PTF comes in doesn't speak well of either the Muslim students nor of the university itself--even if the excuse made was a false one.

-Marriott International, Inc. independently evaluated their security concerns for the ATF/PTF event. Seperately Georgetown evaluated the security concerns for the PSM Conference. Two entities, two different conclusions. As you know, coporations determine business needs on a variety of metrics that may or may not differ from a academic institution. Georgetown based their decision on university policy, including their free speech and expression policy. Marriott would need to provide the answers as to why they made the determination, frankly I believe it was wrong and their excuse was both offensive and inaccurate. So I disagree with the notion of who says it not mattering.

I think that it's natural for any to question what has been the impact of Prince Alaweed's donation. Regardless of an institution's ideals, the influx of such a large sum of money can certainly influence that institution. It's not as if the House of Saud is squeaky clean with regard to recognizing varying ideologies.

Asking about the impact of a donation is a legitimate question. The problem is that you're the only person on this post asking that question, others are trying to infer a reality that is not accurate. Prince Alaweed, as noted by the poster above, is an international businessman with investments in major corporations around the world and has made similar donations as well. Those are facts.

Whether or not he is what other people call him, again we have a federal officials and angencies to determine those facts. Not here to argue with people about the Prince, but rather their characterization of his donation. The fact of the matter is that Prince Alaweed has no control over the money donated to Georgetown. This is common practice in higher education to ensure academic freedom. I urge you to call university development offices to learn more.

-Regarding the former-terrorist turned peace activist, you would have to ask their sponsor -- Georgetown College Republicans -- as to the nature and purpose of the event, but again this event falls underneath the university's free speech and expression policy. You may want to also ask similar questions to the sponsors of the Secretary of State, José Manuel Barroso, David Abshire, José María Aznar, Ján Figel', Secretary of the United States Army, or John D. Negroponte all of whom have or will visit Georgetown in the current two- to three- week period ... Google brings up some sketchy stuff about them as well.

 
At 2/16/2006 6:53 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Saxacalhoya,
Georgetown University policy distinguishes between internal, external and co-sponsored events. The PSM Conference is an event sponsored internally by a student organization, whereas, the ATF/PTF was an external entity trying to rent facilities within the conference center.

I understand what you're saying. Had ATF/PTF had internal sponsorship, the conference might have gone forward.

Marriott would need to provide the answers as to why they made the determination, frankly I believe it was wrong and their excuse was both offensive and inaccurate.

You're right that Marriott may be able to provide some answers. The apparent affiliation of GU and that one particular Marriott facility causes some of us to question why Marriott suddenly (or so it seems) changed positions on the feasibility of the PTF conference.

So I disagree with the notion of who says it not mattering.

What I meant was the slur upon the Muslims at GU and even upon GU itself. Marriott looked to hand off the responsibility for its own decision and, in effect, implied the responsibility was GU's. Sorry that I wasn't clear about that--I was in a huge rush.

I wonder if Marriott issued a clarifying statement or if GU demanded one.

Seperately Georgetown evaluated the security concerns for the PSM Conference. Two entities, two different conclusions.

I didn't see much about GU's conclusions. Then again, I am not on campus. Maybe you have some links for that. Excuse me if you've already posted those links and I've overlooked them.

Asking about the impact of a donation is a legitimate question. The problem is that you're the only person on this post asking that question, others are trying to infer a reality that is not accurate. Prince Alaweed, as noted by the poster above, is an international businessman with investments in major corporations around the world and has made similar donations as well.

As an educator in the private sector, I well know the possible influence of private donors. I've also seen donations refused just because that influence runs counter to an institution's ideology. My own experience with various or proposed donors accounts for my emphasis on that aspect. And as an educator, I am adamant that divergent views be equally presented, insofar as is possible. I'm sure that you can understand my position on that.

Just another aspect here...During the Paris riots, Prince Alaweed bragged that he had influenced Fox News Channel's coverage of the story. So, if Prince Alaweed could control FNC's coverage of a story, I think it's natural to question his impact at GU. Also, Prince Alaweed--or at least the House of Saud--has consistently raised money to support the families of suicide bombers in Palestine.

Offhand, I'd say that the prince is more than just a businessman.

I also find it ironic that Saudi doesn't support freedom of expression while Saudi dollars are going to an institution which does support that freedom. Just a personal observation and perhaps a bit of a tangent.

fact of the matter is that Prince Alaweed has no control over the money donated to Georgetown.

A fine ideal, certainly. But we all know that money has tacit influence. Consistent with GU's policy of naming facilities after donors, I believe that a center at GU has been named after Prince Alaweed; I've seen the same done for other donors, of course--particularly in the medical center, with which I am somewhat familiar.

this event falls underneath the university's free speech and expression policy.

Understood. However, I question the wisdom of bringing in PSM. GU is, of course, free to do so. I never said otherwise, did I?

The list of names in your last paragraph shows that other views will be entertained. As should be in any university.

I appreciate having had the opportunity to discuss these matters with you. Thanks for taking the time to present another viewpoint to this thread.

 
At 2/16/2006 11:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact of the matter is that Prince Alaweed has no control over the money donated to Georgetown. This is common practice in higher education to ensure academic freedom.

Then maybe Georgetown ought to spend the prince's money on designing new uniforms for the basketball team. Please. He has "no control" over how the money is to be spent? Your dean ought to hire Stanley Fish as head of the new Islamic Studies Department and get him to deconstruct Islam and the Prophet for us all. PoMo it like you did Western Civ. Bet your dean would be out on his keister so fast, the Hoya alums would all get whiplash.

-FJ

 
At 2/16/2006 12:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But they can't spend the money however they wish, can they...

The idea for the donation originated when the prince contacted the university early last spring, according to Esposito. Esposito said that he and former director John Voll composed the gift proposal that was later submitted to Alwaleed’s staff for consideration.

Seems Georgetown had to submit a "proposal" as to how the money would be spent in advance of receiving it. Does that sound like having "no control" over how the money will be spent?

From "The Harvard Crimson"...Representative Anthony D. Weiner (D-N.Y.), wrote a letter to University President Lawrence H. Summers on Tuesday urging him to return the recent $20 million gift for Islamic Studies given by Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud.

Weiner said in a press release issued Dec. 13 that American universities should not accept gifts from the Saudi royals, who “have a record of funding terrorist organizations.”

“August institutions like Harvard University and Georgetown University should not accept funding from a family that bankrolls terrorist organizations,” he wrote to Summers. “Their hands should be clean of any relationship with individuals associated with terrorism.”

According to the release, the Saudi royals provide more than 50% of all funding for Hamas, a Palestinian terrorist organization, and they give financial assistance to families of Palestinian suicide bombers.

Weiner’s press secretary, Kathryn E. Prael, noted, “the Congressman has been very outspoken in Congress saying that Saudi Arabia should crack down on terrorism both within and outside the country.”

According to Prael, Weiner has authored and recently supported legislation to cut aid to Saudi Arabia until the country proves it does not promote terrorism.

But some at Harvard remain focused on the money’s intent, not its source.

“The purpose of this gift is to support the study of Islam as a religious and cultural tradition,” wrote Sarah Friedell, a University spokeswoman, in an e-mail.

President of the Harvard Islamic Society Khalid M. Yasin ’07 said that he found it “frustrating that people start off with a critical view [when considering something Islamic] and are unable to look past their stereotypes or whatever they have heard or read.” He said he thought the gift was an incredible opportunity for Harvard.

“The goal is to create bridges and to create ties to show what Islam is,” he said. “The gift is a sign of goodwill from a Muslim who wants to create these bonds between the so-called Western World and the Islamic World.”

But others at Harvard have questioned the source of the money.

“Although an Islamic Studies Program would be a wonderful addition to the University, the funding for it should not come from a source of extremist hate,” Amy M. Zelcer ’07, president of Harvard Students for Israel, wrote in an e-mail.

She cited a 2002 CBS Marketwatch article that said the Saudi Prince donated $27 million and 100 four wheel drive vehicles to families of Palestinian suicide bombers.

“It seems like this money has Jewish blood on it,” she said, referencing the article.

She added that for a bridge between Islam and the West to form, donations should not come only from one side.

According to Donella Rapier, Harvard’s vice president for alumni affairs and development, the gift agreement was finalized in November.


-FJ

 
At 2/16/2006 7:08 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
No doubt about it--Prince Alaweed's money has blood all over it.

 
At 2/16/2006 9:47 PM, Anonymous SaxaCalHoya said...

Always on watch--thank you for the discussion.

A fine ideal, certainly. But we all know that money has tacit influence. Consistent with GU's policy of naming facilities after donors, I believe that a center at GU has been named after Prince Alaweed; I've seen the same done for other donors, of course--particularly in the medical center, with which I am somewhat familiar.

-Yes, the center was renamed for him, however, the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, was formed in 1993 to foster inter-religious dialogue between Islam and Christianity. This commitment to inter-religious dialogue is a founding principle in the university's charter (established in 1789) and the teachings of St. Ignatius. As university administrators have stated, the Prince has no control over the gift and the monies will be spent at the discretion of the instution.

Understood. However, I question the wisdom of bringing in PSM. GU is, of course, free to do so. I never said otherwise, did I?

No, you didn't and I appreciate the thoughtfulness. Having ocassionally read your blog, my concern was with the article you included with the start of this thread. The two authors included inaccurate statements about Georgetown and became concerned with the inferences that were being drawn.

Unfortunately critics of this issue tend to forget that Georgetown is the oldest Catholic/Jesuit university in the nation and boasts a diverse faculty that includes the author of the Patriot Act (Viet Dinh) and the former Secretary of State (Madeliene Albright) in the Clinton administration. Amazingly people believe the university naively makes decisions like the ones being discussed here. It is that view that is naive.

As I mentioned in a previous comment, Georgetown has welcomed former and current heads of state, U.S. political and military leaders, and human rights activists to campus all just in the past few weeks. On the faculty are people like George Tenet, Andrew Natsios, Tony Lake, Victor Cha, Bob Gallucci and other leading academics and real-world practioners. It is the very nature of Georgetown to confront the tensions of our world. This is why Georgetown is Georgetown.

Seems Georgetown had to submit a "proposal" as to how the money would be spent in advance of receiving it. Does that sound like having "no control" over how the money will be spent?

-FJ, thanks for sharing the Harvard Crimson article. Georgetown and Harvard were one of many U.S. universities that sent proposals to the Prince's foundation as reported in the New York times. This is the same as universities do all of the time when receiving monies from government agencies and foundations.

Again, to reiterate what university administrators have stated: the Prince has no control over how the gift is used and that the monies will be spent at the discretion of the instution. The only consideration that was given was the renaming of a 13-yr old center.

She cited a 2002 CBS Marketwatch article that said the Saudi Prince donated $27 million and 100 four wheel drive vehicles to families of Palestinian suicide bombers.

-Again, as another poster already pointed out in a previous comment, this assertion is disputed by White House spokesman Ari Fleischer in a press breifing in April 2002. By the way, since your Google skills are so good can you actually find the CBS Marketwatch article? Haven't been able to as of yet (even checked Lexis-Nexis).

Finally, I must ask, isn't it the obligation of federal agencies and law enforcement officials to investigate and determine the accuracy of the assertions being made about these issues? Aren't we as Americans supposed to rely on them for accurate and credible information? Simply stated, when it comes to allegations of terrorist ties should institutions check with Lee Kaplan or the FBI and Department of State?

 
At 2/17/2006 7:51 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Saxacalhoya,
This commitment to inter-religious dialogue...

Too bad that the prince doesn't promote that in Saudi, IMO. Can GU hold such a conference in Saudi? I haven't heard of one, but maybe I'm not fully informed.

Simply stated, when it comes to allegations of terrorist ties should institutions check with Lee Kaplan or the FBI and Department of State?

Of course, the institutions should check with the government agencies. But from what I have observed, sometimes the government agencies lag in appropriate response. Saudi certainly has not been as responsive as it can be in the WOT (Hate that term!).

I believe that the Ari Fleischer statement was made in 2002.

 
At 2/17/2006 12:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, and when you make a "proposal", you are committed to carrying out those activities you commit to perform. Thus, the proposal "controls" your future actions and activities. What "activities" did Georgetown commit to? Were any of them "negotiated" with the Prince or his staff? Were there any "conditions" or requirments described in the Prince's "request" for proposals? These are all unanswered questions. The $20M was not proferred in return for "nothing".

And here's a copy of the marketwatch article...

By Greg Morcroft, CBS.MarketWatch.com
Last Update: 1:07 PM ET Apr 12, 2002

NEW YORK (CBS.MW) - Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, chairman of Kingdom Holding and the largest single investor in Citigroup, said Friday he donated $27 million in cash and goods to aid Palestinians.

According to a press release from Kingdom, "Prince Alwaleed's religious advisor Sheikh Ali Al-Nashwan announced the donation on Channel One of Saudi television."

The gift, made during an 11 hour telethon sponsored and presented by Saudi state-run television, comprised $13.3 million in cash, $1.6 million in vehicles and $11.7 million in clothing.

"Our donation is an Islamic and an Arabic duty," Alwaleed said in the press release.

In the latest violence in the Middle East Friday, a suicide bomber exploded a device at a bus stop in Jerusalem, killing six and injuring at least 84.

Last month, Alwaleed raised his stake in Citigroup ( C: news, chart, profile) by $500 million, bringing his holdings in the bank to around $10 billion. "At about $43, Citi's share price was at too attractive a price," the prince said. He is the largest shareholder in the bank, according to the statement.

A Citigroup spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.
Over the past seven months, the prince's spokesman said he has invested about $1 billion to increase his holdings in Citigroup, AOL Time Warner (AOL : AOL)

The prince is a well-known investor, and also made headlines in the broader press with a donation he made to New York City after the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

New York mayor Rudy Giuliani initially accepted the donation, but ordered the money returned after becoming aware of comments the prince made regarding American policy in the Mideast. See full story

The prince has also invested in several projects in the West Bank and Gaza.

His company said he owns a stake in a number of companies including a $5 million stake in Palestinian invest company PADICO, a $2 million stake in the Arab-Palestinian Investment Holding Company (APIC), and $5 million in the Jerusalem Development and Investment Company (JEDICO).

Greg Morcroft is New York news editor of CBS.MarketWatch.com.


You can find the complete article here, but I'm afraid you'll have to sign up for a marketwatch accout in order to view it in its' entirety.

-FJ

 
At 2/17/2006 12:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the nature of the telethon...

By The Associated Press
Last Update: 11:56 AM ET Apr 11, 2002

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) _ Saudi Arabia's official television and radio stations expect to raise millions of dollars in aid to families of Palestinian ``martyrs'' in an 11-hour nationwide telethon that began Thursday.

The ruling Al Saud family inaugurated the campaign Monday, with King Fahd donating $2.7 million, Crown Prince Abdullah giving $1.35 million and Defense Minister Prince Sultan handing out $800,000.

The term ``martyrs'' often has been used in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to refer to suicide bombers. But the Saudi Embassy in Washington said in a statement to The Associated Press Thursday that the term as used in relation to official Saudi efforts to raise funds for Palestinians referred not to suicide bombers but to ``Palestinians who are victimized by Israeli terror and violence.''

``Reports that Saudi Arabia, or any group within the Kingdom, is paying suicide bombers are baseless and false, and are an attempt to deflect from Israel's terror practices in the occupied territories and its rejection of the latest Arab initiative calling for a just and comprehensive peace,'' the embassy statement said.

Saudi assistance ``includes financial assistance to the families of victims _ 'martyrs' _ distributed through the private humanitarian organization chaired by Interior Minister Prince Nayef ...,'' the statement said.

The fund-raising telethon that began Thursday at 4 p.m. was ordered by Fahd and expected to continue until 3 a.m. Friday.

Fahd has urged Saudis, expatriates and private companies to contribute generously to the fund headed by Nayef. Members of the unelected Consultative Council are donating half their April salaries.

The telethon began with footage showing Israelis shelling Palestinian camps and demolishing buildings in their latest incursion into Palestinian areas, as well as images of wounded Palestinians getting treatment.

A TV presenter then read a message from Nayef, saying the telethon, broadcast live by local and Saudi-owned satellite channels, ``is a continuation and assertion of the kingdom's support'' for the intefadeh.

Nayef's fund has recently made an emergency donation of nearly a million dollars to the families of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces, giving $5,333 to each of 155 families.

It has donated more than $59 million to Palestinian families and aid organizations since the beginning of the Israeli-Palestinian violence more than 18 months ago.

The committee has said it would continue to provide direct assistance to the families of ``Palestinian martyrs and those wounded while resisting the occupation.''

The telethon, the second since the start of 18 months of Israeli-Palestinian violence, is an attempt by the government to channel the intense rage Saudis feel over Israel's incursion away from illegal demonstrations.

Saudis have marched in two major demonstrations, defying a ban on such protests. At least one demonstration is planned for Friday. The government has said such gatherings do not serve the Palestinian cause.

The first telethon raised $10.8 million.


-FJ

 
At 2/17/2006 1:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now you can take the Saudi's at their word... that the funds raised were NOT intended for suicide bombers... but there appears to be some evidence to the contrary...

jcpa brief

an excerpt...

Washington Misled: Saudi Arabia's Financial Backing of Terrorism

As a result of Israel's Operation "Defensive Shield," new documents have been uncovered from Palestinian offices that directly link the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with financial backing of terrorist attacks against Israel.

The Saudis have repeatedly denied such connections. Last month, for example, Saudi state television held a telethon for the families of "Palestinian martyrs" that raised over $100 million.

Responding to charges that with the telethon Saudi Arabia was backing terrorism, Adel Al-Jubeir, foreign policy adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, told Fox television: "We have made it very clear in terms of where Saudi funding has gone to provide humanitarian assistance to the families who have suffered as a result of the Israeli occupation and the recent Israeli aggression." Adel Al-Jubeir added: "We do not support suicide bombers. Our objective is to put food on people's tables and medicine in their pharmacies" (Fox News, April 28, 2002).

Earlier in the month, the U.S. government was apparently given similar assurances by the Saudis. Thus, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer responded to a press briefing on April 12 by saying: "As I said, we have received assurances from the Saudi Arabian government that the money is going to the Palestinian people, and not to support terrorism." Fleisher was sufficiently confident about Saudi assurances that he even compared the Saudi aid from the telethon to U.S. financial assistance to the Palestinian people.

One new Saudi document found in Palestinian offices demonstrates that the Saudis were not providing general humanitarian aid as they told the U.S. government and explained to American television audiences. Riyadh had misled Washington, for the Saudis itemized their allocations line by line, detailing the circumstances of the death of Palestinians whose families received assistance; the Saudis themselves explain that the allocation was for suicide attacks.

Rewarding Suicide Bombers
Among the documents found in Tulkarm was a table from Saudi Arabia itemizing the tenth set of payments to the "Martyrs of the Al-Aqsa Intifada." The table details how $545,000 was allocated to 102 families. The logo at the top of the table reads: "Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Committee for Aid to the Al-Quds Intifada." This committee was established in the fall of 2000 under the Saudi Minister of the Interior, Prince Nayef bin 'Abd al-Aziz. Prince Nayef's organization was also responsible for collecting Saudi contributions during the April 11 telethon for Palestinian "martyrs" on Saudi state television.

The table explains the type of activity that entitled a family to receive Saudi assistance:

According to the document, Abd al-Fatah Muhammad Musalah Rashid, number 15 on the list, died in a "martyrdom act." The individual involved was a member of the pro-Iranian Islamic Jihad who died in a car-bomb attack at Beit Lid on September 9, 2001, for which he was responsible. Eight Israelis were wounded.

Abd al-Karim Amr Muhammad Abu Na'sa, who appears as number 17 in the Saudi table, is described as having died in a "martyrdom act in Afula." This is a reference to his suicide bombing on behalf of Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Afula on November 27, 2001. Forty-six Israelis were wounded.

There is no doubt that when the document refers to a "martyrdom act" -- amliyya itishaddiyya -- it is referring to suicide attacks. A martyr, or "shahid" in Arabic, is an individual who gave his life in a holy war -- or in a Jihad -- and is therefore entitled to automatic entry into Paradise after his death, according to Islamic tradition. The term "martyr" has thus become synonymous with suicide bombers or those who died attacking Israelis. Israel has been able to determine that at least eight of the beneficiaries of Saudi aid are the families of suicide bombers.

Other "martyrs" on the Saudi list may not have been suicide bombers, but were well known for their past involvement in terrorism. Thus, number 68, Mahmud Abu Hanud, was the commander of Hamas for the West Bank. Number 8, Atef Abiyat, commanded the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Bethlehem. His name was well known to those who engaged in peace process matters since Yasser Arafat promised the European Union that he was in prison while he moved about freely until his death.

 
At 2/17/2006 2:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm. I wonder if HRH Prince Turki Al-Faisal Al-Saud, current Saudi ambassador to the US, was appointed an advisor to Georgetown's Center for Contemporary Arab studies before or after the $20M gift was made. The Saudi's supposedly have no influence over the goings on at Georgetown, but a man who headed Saudi Intelligence for 24 years just happens to be on the "advisory board" helping them set "policy".

-FJ

 
At 2/17/2006 2:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ooops. That second link didn't take too well... Advisory Board

-FJ

 
At 2/17/2006 7:45 PM, Anonymous SaxaCalHoya said...

Too bad that the prince doesn't promote that in Saudi, IMO. Can GU hold such a conference in Saudi? I haven't heard of one, but maybe I'm not fully informed.

-Some have argued that Prince Alwaeed is doing just that by being a progressive voice in that area of the world. As this Reuters article recently noted:

"While he has for a long time stayed outside of the core of political power in Saudi Arabia, the prince has recently voiced critical statements of Saudi traditionalism and the need for political and economic reforms as well as boosting women's rights."

I haven't heard of a conference being announced, but perhaps that is a plan for the future.


What "activities" did Georgetown commit to? Were any of them "negotiated" with the Prince or his staff? Were there any "conditions" or requirments described in the Prince's "request" for proposals? These are all unanswered questions. The $20M was not proferred in return for "nothing".

-These questions are answered FJ. You may not like it, but what obligation does Georgetown University have to provide you or others that publish on the Internet with them? As a private University, the only people they have to answer to is their board of directors and community (plus any necessary government agencies where applicable). However, Georgetown has been clear on how it intends to use the monies:

"The gift will endow three faculty chairs, expand programmatic and academic outreach activities, provide new scholarship support for students, broaden opportunities for research and policy discussions and expand library facilities."

Being an educator in the private sector, I imagine that AlwaysOnWatch can weigh in here, but $20 million is not that much money for an academic institution that recently completed a $1 billion campaign and where the cost to endow a chair is at the minimum $3 million (3 chairs = $9 million that's half the money already spent). Finally, he did receive consideration, it was renaming an established Center after him.

Just wondering, have you pointed the same questions at the Louvre regarding the donation they received from the Prince? Or the President George Bush Sr. Scholarship fund established by Philips Exeter Academy and the Carter Center for Peace and Health Programs in Africa? Why just Georgetown? What is your agenda here?


I wonder if HRH Prince Turki Al-Faisal Al-Saud, current Saudi ambassador to the US, was appointed an advisor to Georgetown's Center for Contemporary Arab studies before or after the $20M gift was made.

-Prince Al-Faisal is a graduate of Georgetown's class of 1968 and has a long relationship with the University that predates this gift. Currently he serves as the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United States. In addition, he is Chairman of the board of The Prince Charles Visual Islamic and Traditional Arts Centre as well as the co-chair of the C100 Group which is affiliated with the World Economic Forum since 2003.

Again, I'm not here to argue with people about Prince Alaweed or Prince Al-Faisal, but rather to contest the mis-characterization of their relationship with Georgetown University by people who don't have all of the facts.

 
At 2/17/2006 9:38 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Saxacalhoya,
I guess how significant the amount of the donation is depends on the size of the institution receiving it. Maybe $20 million isn't much to GU, but that amount would be a great deal to many other institutions. Entire schools are often bought for much less than that amount. GU, of course, has a huge budget.

Some have argued that Prince Alwaeed is doing just that by being a progressive voice in that area of the world.

I'm skeptical on that one. The House of Saud controls the media in Saudi, and the Saudi media censors in many ways. The Saudi government also censors some Internet access, I believe--or so my friends in Saudi tell me, anyway.

Really, though, I don't think anyone here claims to have all the answers. But it is in the nature of bloggers, most of us certainly amateurs as opposed to professional journalists, to ask questions. And I believe that asking questions is part of freedom of expression. I think you would agree with that, but perhaps I'm in error.

BTW, I saw the letters to the editor in today's WaPo. I presume, perhaps incorrectly, that you have seen those as well.

The reason I am asking questions about GU is that I am local to the D.C. area. Were I in those other areas you mentioned, I suspect that I would also be asking questions about those matters as well. I am the question-asking type. LOL.

I have, of course, left comments open to this blog article (as I do for all my blog articles) just for the purpose of getting more information, whether that information supports or debunks any article I post. Had I truly wanted to mis-characterize GU, I wouldn't have left the comments section open, and I can always not use that option, which shuts down divergent views.

I have no agenda, really; rather, I post on topics which are of interest to me. If you check back through all my postings, you'll see some variety, maybe not as much as some blogs, I know. Hope that I don't sound defensive--I just want to clarify my philosophy, so to speak.

I believe that you are not here to argue! In fact, I'm glad to see this discussion. I realize that people often have strong views, and that's okay as far as I'm concerned.

The end of a long day. Good night.

 
At 2/17/2006 10:50 PM, Anonymous SaxaCalHoya said...

AlwaysOnWatch--thank you for providing the space and engaging in the discussion. My apologies if my frustration seemed directed at you. It was not intended that way. The mis-characterizations stemed more from other visitor's comments and links to other websites (some hateful content out there). Again, my apologies.

But it is in the nature of bloggers, most of us certainly amateurs as opposed to professional journalists, to ask questions. And I believe that asking questions is part of freedom of expression. I think you would agree with that, but perhaps I'm in error.

Agreed. And asking questions is fundamental to dialogue and you've provided a forum that allows for the exchange of ideas. Blogs challenge such notions as accuracy or authenticity in ways that other mediums haven't had to confront.

Unlike traditional media, people can create and publish what they want on the Internet. Most people do this in a responsible way. But others don't, and they muddy the waters for having an honest discussion. How do we handle that type of "speech?" Not completely sure at the moment, but shedding the light on it seems like a start.

Would be interested in your thoughts. Also, here's some recent articles on the PSM Conference that you may find of interest:

- More students express their thoughts on the conference Georgetown's student newspaper, The Hoya.

- Washington Jewish Week has a good article about the conference and the pro-Israel activities happening on campus.

- Washington Jewish Week also published an editorial commending Georgetown's handling of the conference.

- The JTA has good piece on the work of Jewish students on campus and more coverage of the conference.

 
At 2/18/2006 6:28 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Saxacalhoya,
I'll check those articles to which you've linked.

There is never a need to apologize for a reasoned discussion. And "a reasoned discussion" is how I view the discussion here. Admittedly, like most open fora, discussions like this one can become frustrating as people toss in the information they have found. Puts me in mind of a jigsaw puzzle.

Unlike traditional media, people can create and publish what they want on the Internet. Most people do this in a responsible way. But others don't...

I am a strong advocate of freedom of expression. Indeed, the waters get muddy, but such is the way of freedom, especially in an adult forum such as a blog. How else do we learn? And sometimes muddying the water has to happen before any clarity occurs (Pardon the extended metaphor).

Of course, I know that there are legal limits on freedom of expression. The extent of those limits has been in debate for a few centuries (at least).

Also, nobody "knows it all," least of all myself. But the Internet is a wonderful tool and aids all of us in discerning what we might not have before--without a trip to the Library of Congress, that is. I didn't realize what a great tool the Internet is until I got laid up for the summer of 2005, thanks to a serious car accident, from which I'm still recovering. So here I am! Prior to that car accident--and this is an irony--I was not much interested in events or ideas which didn't directly impact me. Being shut in actually widened my horizons.

PS: I don't see FJ's "challenges" as muddying the waters. Rather, I see the material he provided as additional resources to consider. Situations viewed as simple are often quite complex. But I really believe this: "Knowledge is power."

 
At 2/18/2006 12:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What "activities" did Georgetown commit to? Were any of them "negotiated" with the Prince or his staff? Were there any "conditions" or requirments described in the Prince's "request" for proposals? These are all unanswered questions

-These questions are answered FJ.

No they're not. A link to a press release about how the univeristy intends to spend a PORTION of the funds it received answers none of these questions.

And you are right, Georgetown is a private institution and does not have to provide answers to all these questions. But if Georgetown wants to be continued to be considered a "reputable" institution, I would advise them to be a little more circumspect and transparent in their responses. We are, after all, at war with elements that originated in your generous donor's country, and with whose families he has many intimate and personal ties.

The federal government, on the other hand, publishes all of its' solitications for proposals in the CBD. The winning proposals are all then made public after a selection has been made. This makes the process fairly "transparent" and gives the public at least SOME level of visibility into and therefore a degree of confidence in the process.

But Georgetown, being a private institution, does not have to maintain a comparable level of transparency. And since it does not, they leave themselves open to public criticism.

And so, until Georgetown makes the solicitation and corresponding proposal related documents a matter of public record, you have answered NONE of the questions I've asked, regardless of your assertions to the contrary.

And no, I have NOT asked the Louvre how they spent the prince's money, because frankly, I really don't care. What I DO care about is what kind of academic nonsense your institution may be promoting, and whether it is being used by certain radical political elements within this country to foment violence or spread propaganda.

I also have two sons currently in college, and a daughter who is a high school senior and is currently investigating universities to decide which she will attend this fall. And no, Georgetown is NOT one of them, although she did apply to American, and my youngest son had applied to Catholic, both very, very "local" to Georgetown.

And so, perhaps I have indeed mis-characterized the nature of the prince's philanthropy. But then again, all I did was ask some questions. Questions that have NOT, to date, been COMPLETELY answered, except with platitudes. And of course, unless there are some means of verifying and validating those answers, I have every right to continue to question the nature of an institution with hereditary claims to morality, that seems to feel justified in doing only what is "legal", and abdicating any moral responsibility for its' actions to "watchdogs" and those who provide "oversight".

And since we live in a democracy, that means me.

-FJ

 
At 2/18/2006 12:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and have you answered the "other" question about Prince al-Faisal? I see a bunch of platitudes attesting to what a great guy he is... but was he appointed before, or after, the $20M arrived? Did Georgetown even "consider" that a former head of a foreign secret intelligence agency might have some potential "conflicts" of interest? Or is it somebody "elses" job to point that out to Georgetown too?

-FJ

 
At 2/19/2006 5:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But if Georgetown wants to be continued to be considered a "reputable" institution, I would advise them to be a little more circumspect and transparent in their responses.

Seriously!?!?! You want to give a billion-dollar institution advice because you publish on a blog. As you stated Georgetown University is a private institution. In fact, it has several Fortune 25 business executives on its Board, but somehow you believe you have stumbled across questions that haven't been addressed by anyone. Bravo!

 
At 2/19/2006 6:15 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Anonymous,
We live in a free society, and we're free to ask questions.

 
At 2/20/2006 2:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...LOL. Let's all bow to the Board of Directors at Georgetown for having provided such marvellous direction and stuardship. It's good to know Georgetown places its' future is such capable hands....and the likes of "center sponsor" and former GU Board member Hasib Sabbagh, a man who went from Palestinian Refugee to Citizen of the world, and who, if I am not mistaken, is currently seeking to locate and develop oil reserves in Gaza.

Money definitely talks at Georgetown. All you've got to do is donate a few million, and you too can be on the Board of Directors.

Yes, I'm sure Georgetown's Board of Directors was very thorough in their investigation and questioning. And I'm sure that the good reputation and future of Georgtown is their "$ole" concern.

-FJ

 
At 2/21/2006 8:09 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I just found this report on the conference.

Hmmmm....

 
At 2/21/2006 8:40 AM, Anonymous SaxaCalHoya said...

I've enjoyed the recent folly, again I would suggest that you formulate your opinions after reading both sides of the issue. FJ, your questions have been answered by the links I've provided ... maybe not in the manner you would like, but the information is there.

* * *

With regards to the Conference, about 250-300 people attended the conference and organizers seemed pleased with the event. No protestors on Saturday, with the exception of one disruption, and only a 30-40 protestors on Sunday (all of which were not affiliated with Georgetown, but rather the Jewish Defense League vs. a group of Orthodox Jews from New York).

Here's some accurate reporting from and about the Conference.

-The Jerusalem Post had a brief article Sunday.

-On Monday the Jewish Telegraphic Agency published a good article about the Conference and pro-Israel programming on campus over the weekend. It also has a quote from the David Friedman, the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, commending Georgetown's efforts in "making the atmosphere comfortable for Jews and the conference open to the public."

 
At 2/21/2006 9:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like I've said before sax, until Georgetown makes ALL the data on the donation public, we haven't been told the whole story. You say I, and others, should consider BOTH sides... then allow me to consider both sides. Don't hide half the data, and then expect me to believe we've given the issue a "fair" hearing.

And from independent reports from within the conference, it would appear that "fairness" and an airing of BOTH sides of the "Palestinian question" was hardly on the conferee's agenda. Single sided issue advocacy, using ALL possible means to propagandize the issue (including "deception" and "infiltration") seems to have been the order of the day.

But so as not to seem completely negative, I'm glad to see that this conference was made "open" to the general public. It was a step in the "right" direction. At least we now know the "official" agenda. Now all we have to derive is the "Un-official" sub-text.

-FJ

 
At 2/21/2006 9:30 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

NOTICE
As frequenters of this blog know, I run an open forum here. All reasoned comments are welcome.

All comments stand as posted, so that people can come to their own conclusions.

Off to work shortly and will check back later.

 

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