Letters to the Editor
—Frank L. Friedman, College of Science and Technology
To The Editor:
There is a growing concern among many American Jews about the often closed-door activities of other American Jews who, in almost all matters related to power and politics, believe that Israel’s interests, and those of its citizens, far transcend those of the United States and its citizens. As a Jewish person living in America, I worry a great deal about the actions and beliefs of these Jewish citizens of the United States. Less than 75 years have elapsed since the Holocaust tore apart the world; and the days that McCarthyism shook America are even more recent. Yet these Jews seem to have forgotten both periods of our history.
I do not pretend to always practice what I preach nor to have lived a particularly exemplary life. Yet in forgetting their recent history, many of these Jews seem to believe that it is just fine to do unto others as we would pray others will never do unto us again. This is wrong-headed and shameful.
My concern about these issues is only heightened by the war in Iraq, recent talk about bombing Iran, the continuing efforts on the part of pro-Israel and government “security and intelligence” organizations to influence academia, and numerous other efforts to keep Islam and its supporters in their place, but of course using many of the same x-ist scare tactics reminiscent of the McCarthy x-ist era. We need only replace x with terror, and hope that these most recent efforts never achieve the same impact or substantial following of the McCarthy era.
I believe President Hart has been honest and forthright with us during recent discussions concerning International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) and the funding of the Ismail al Faruqi Chair of Islamic Studies at Temple. I also believe that she and other officers of Temple University are struggling to do the right thing. Perhaps it is true that in the short run, it might seem better that Temple, when confronted with the option of taking possibly money from possibly dangerous organizations, would rather not run the risk of the embarrassment of possibly having to return this money further down the road. Of this I am not convinced, but it is a plausible rationale.
What concerns me most, however, is our own zealous and repressive government, and its overly aggressive, witch-hunting citizen friends and organizations, ready to investigate any one and any group that provides the slightest reason to believe they might have less than genuine concern for Israel and the United States. It is bad enough that outside organizations are determined to bully their way into academia and influence what we do and what we think and say. But the prospect of similar bullying, under the pretense of apolitical decision-making on the inside, is far more frightening.
We, as Jews, have a right to be fearful of what we know and do not know, and even to expect the worst. But we must never forget. We must not let others forget. We have an obligation to avoid being persuaded or even frightened by bullying or vigilante-inspired investigations of anyone or any group. For, we do not have the right to repeat the mistakes of past accusers and murders, as we look out for our own best interests and those of our friends.
Frank L. Friedman
Professor of Computer Science and Chairperson of the Editorial Board of The Temple Faculty Herald