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February 28, 2003 - Image 29

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-02-28

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Where Terrorists Hide

t was quiet in the University of
South Florida's Cooper Hall 464
Thursday night, where Sameeh
Hammoudeh's 6 p.m. fourth-year
Arabic class was scheduled to meet. Two
students who hadn't heard of his arrest
came to class, and a substitute was
assigned to teach in Hammoudeh's place.
Hammoudeh missed teaching his
Arabic class last week due to a slight
inconvenience: He had just been
charged with racketeering and conspir-
acy to murder. The part-time Arabic
instructor was one of eight men indict-
ed at a U.S. District Court in Florida
as "material supporters of a foreign ter-
rorist organization," that organization
being Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).
It is striking that three of those eight
are academic specialists on Middle
Eastern and Islamic subjects. Their
arrests reveal to what extent Middle
East studies is a field that serves as an
extension of the region's radicalism.
The other defendants teach comput-
er engineering, manage a medical clin-
ic, own a small business and serve as
imam in a mosque; the professional


Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle

East Forum and author of "Militant Islam
Reaches America" (WW Norton). His e-
mail address is Pipes@MEForum.org

life of one defendant is unclear.
Hammoudeh and the other two
instructors on Middle East topics all
have establishment credentials.
• Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, 45:
Born in the Gaza Strip, he earned a
doctorate in economics from the
University of Durham in the United
Kingdom. He arrived in Tampa, Fla.,
in 1991, taught Middle East studies as
an adjunct professor at the University
of South Florida (USF) and headed the
World and Islam Studies Enterprise
(WISE), a think tank dealing with
Middle East issues that was affiliated
with USF during the period 1992-95.
He left USF in 1995 and later that
year turned up in Damascus where
he is now secretary-general of PIJ.
• Bashir Musa Mohammed Nafi, 50:
Born in Egypt, Nafi has two doctor-
ates and was a researcher at -WISE. He
was deported from the United States
for visa violations in 1996 and went to
England where, as an Irish citizen, he
lives in Oxfordshire.
He teaches at two London institu-
tions, Birkbeck College of the
University of London (a course called
"Social and Political Issues in Islam")
and the Muslim College ("State and
Society in Islamic History").
Nafi is also associated with the
Institute of Contemporary Islamic

Thought (which in 2000 pub-
lished his analysis, The Rise

The three passed for genuine
scholars. Carrie Wickham, a spe-
and Decline of the Arab-Islamic
cialist on Egyptian Islam at
Reform Movement). He has
Emory University in Atlanta,
written for the Virginia-based
said she "felt deceived" on learn-
Middle East Affairs Journal
ing who Shallah really was and
and a book of his appeared in
expressed surprise that "a serious
Arabic in 1999, Imperialism
intellectual counterpart" like
and Zionism: The Palestinian
him could also be a terrorist.
Case. (He uses a pseudonym,
Even after the indictment,
Spe cial
Ahmad Sadiq, when writing
Arthur Lowrie, formerly vice-
Comm entary chair of USF's Committee for
for militant Islamic journals.)
• Sameeh Hammoudeh, 42:
Middle Eastern Studies, praises
Born in the West Bank, he worked at
Shallah for his "good scholarly work."
the Arab Studies Society in Jerusalem
And Gwen Griffith-Dickson, director
before reaching the United States in
of Islamic studies at Birkbeck, describes
1992. He began teaching at USF in
Nafi as "highly respected," lauding him
1995. At the time of his arrest, he lived in for his efforts "with energy and com-
the Tampa area, taught Arabic at USF
mitment, to encourage critical thinking
and was working toward a master's degree about religious issues and academic bal-
in religious studies at that university.
ance in his students, and thus to
All three alleged terrorists succeeded
encourage social responsibility."
in talking the academic talk, fooling
That three accused terrorists passed
nearly everyone. Shallah wrote in 1993,
without suspicion as genuine Middle Fast
in his capacity as director of WISE, that
studies scholars points to the crisis in this
the organization's long-term goal is "to
academic discipline. Middle East studies
contribute to the understanding of the
is already criticized for providing refuge to
revivalist Islamist trends, misleadingly
what might be called intellectual terrorists
labeled 'fundamentalist,' in Western and — scholars known for their extremism,
American academic circles."
intolerance and dishonesty. Now we learn
Almost any North American aca-
it may also harbor the real thing.
demic specialist on Islam could have
Conclusion: This field must be scru-
written those same sneering and
tinized closely, especially by Congress
duplicitous words. Many do.
in its funding of Mideast studies. ❑

A Shoah Denier As Prime Minister?

New York City
hile European Union
officials praised
Palestinian Authority
leader Yasser Arafat's
decision to appoint his first-ever
prime minister, historians of the
Holocaust winced at the news that a
leading candidate for the job is the
author of a book denying that the
Nazis murdered six million Jews.
The candidate is Mahmoud Abbas
(also known as Abu Mazen), Arafat's
second in command. His book, pub-
lished (in Arabic) in 1983, is titled
The Other Side: The Secret Relations
Between Nazism and the Leadership of
the Zionist Movement. It was origi-
nally his doctoral dissertation, com-
pleted at Moscow Oriental College,


Dr. Rafael Medoff is visiting scholar in

the Jewish Studies Program at the State
University of New York-Purchase
College. His e-mail address is

in the Soviet Union.
According to a translation of the
text provided by the Los Angeles-
based Simon Wiesenthal Center,
Abbas' book repeatedly attempts to .
cast doubt on the fact that the Nazis
slaughtered six million Jews.
He writes, "Following the war,
word was spread that six million Jews
were amongst the victims and that a
war of extermination was aimed pri-
marily at the Jews ... The truth is that
no one can either confirm or deny
this figure. In other words, it is possi-
ble that the number of Jewish victims
reached six million, but at the same
time it is possible that the figure is
much smaller — below one million."
Abbas denies that the gas chambers
were used to murder Jews, quoting a
"scientific study" to that effect by
French Holocaust-denier Robert
Abbas then asserts, "The historian
and author, Raoul Hilberg, thinks
that the figure does not exceed

This is, of course, utterly
false. Professor Hilberg, a dis-
tinguished historian and
author of the classic study

The Destruction of the
European Jews, has never said
or written any such thing.
Abbas believes the number
six million is the product of a
Zionist conspiracy. "It seems
that the interest of the
Zionist movement, however,
is to inflate this figure so that their
gains will be greater," he writes.
"This led them to emphasize this
figure [six million] in order to gain
the solidarity of international public
opinion with Zionism. Many scholars
have debated the figure of six million
and reached stunning conclusions —
Fixing the number of Jewish victims
at only a few hundred thousand."
Another falsehood. In fact, no seri-
ous scholar proposes such a figure.

Zionist Plot?

After reducing the magnitude
of the Nazi slaughter so that it
no longer seems to have been a
full-scale Holocaust, Abbas
seeks to absolve the Nazis by
blaming the Zionist leadership
for whatever killings did take
According to Abbas, "a part-
nership was established
between Hitler's Nazis and the
leadership of the Zionist movement ...
[the Zionists gave] permission to every
racist in the world, led by Hitler and
the Nazis, to treat Jews as they wish, so
long as it guarantees immigration to
In addition to encouraging the perse-
cution of Jews so they would emigrate
to the Holy Land, the Zionist leaders
actually wanted Jews to be murdered,
because — in Abbas' words — "having
more victims meant greater rights and

MEDOFF on page 32




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