Last month Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talat made a serious investment in the education of American youth. He paid Harvard and Georgetown Universities $20 million each to fertilise their ivy curriculum with Islam. It was vital, he said, because "Bridging the understanding between East and West is important for peace and tolerance."
Back at Ground Zero in 2001, Al-Waleed embedded himself with Rudi Giuliani's entourage. And, as they salvaged 291 intact bodies and 19,500 body parts from the massive bloody wreckage, he handed over $10 million and released a statement.
The statement did not refer to the fact that most of the pilots who implemented the catastrophic killing of American civilians were – like him – Saudi nationals, but to what he believed was America's misguided relationship with Israel.
"I believe the government of the United States", he said, "should re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance toward the Palestinian cause."
"Our Palestinian brethren" he opined," continue to be slaughtered at the hands of Israelis while the world turns the other cheek."
Mayor Giuliani handed the money back and publicly recorded his disgust.
A few weeks ago, Al-Waleed boasted to a media conference in Dubai that he intervened in the news coverage of the Fox network by personally phoning Rupert Murdoch. He claimed his objection was the reason Fox deleted all references to Muslims when reporting the race riots in France.
Al-Waleed owns 5.46% of Murdoch's News Corporation. And by his own admission, this investment rewards him with a substantial amount of influence. Naturally then, Al-Waleed's investment in the Middle Eastern Iqra television – which his company ART owns a 30% share – must bring him a tremendous amount of influence.
Yet, the Iqra television network is renowned for its incitement to hatred against Jews and Americans. According to the New York Sun, 23 members of Congress wrote to the Saudi ambassador in November last year expressing their concern that Iqra television – which broadcasts throughout USA – urges "its viewers to rampant Jihad and advocates violence against Israelis." It also telecasts Islamic leaders encouraging all Muslims to confront non-Muslims and "calls for the entire world to follow Islam." Non-believers, such as Jews and Christians are destined to burn in hell.
In December last year – just a few weeks after Al- Waleed claimed to have intervened in what he perceived to be racially discriminatory media coverage of the race riots in France – Iqra interviewed a 3-year-old toddler who it portrayed as an example to all good parents. The little girl explained to the commentator that Palestinians had no desire for peace with Israel and that the Jews were "dogs" and "villains". Despite his part-ownership of Iqra and his enormous influence, Al-Waleed was profoundly mute. There wasn't a peep.
Iqra television ran a soap opera, Stories From Before the Verses Came Down, during February 05. MEMRI's transcript of this series depicted evil Voodoo Jews piercing a Muhammad dough doll with eleven needles. "This needle goes into the heart", and "this one goes into his right eye. This one into his left eye. This one goes into his liver..."
In a recent interview, John Tydeman, CEO of Al-Waleed's Arab Digital Distribution (ADD), the platform company that owns ART, discussed the concern within the company to sensitive moral and values issues. ART, he said, doesn't want "blasphemous programming on its network." The CEO was not referring to the graphic and horrific misrepresentation of Jews on its network but to the cultural and religious sensitivities of Muslims.
The Prince, it appears, has a multiple cultural personality. On one hand, he uses his money as a vehicle to promote and perpetuate racial hatred of Jewish people; and on the other, he purports to encourage racial and religious tolerance amongst all peoples. And the fact that he uses his wealth to inhibit criticism of his own religion while promoting hostility towards Judaism appears to be buried in the ivy at Harvard and Georgetown.
New York Congressman, Anthony Weiner was reported in the New York Sun
urging both universities to return the $40 million. The congressman chastised both schools for "accepting gifts from a family that bankrolls terrorist organizations." However, Georgetown spokesperson, Erik Smulson, told the New York Sun, that the school had no intention of returning the money and that "Prince Alwaleed is an international business leader".
Mr Weiner cautioned that "the duplicity of the Saudi royal family" is something the public must be constantly reminded of as the Saudi royals try to "cleanse their bloody hands by taking contributions to institutions like Georgetown and Harvard."
In 2002, Al-Waleed donated $27 million to a Saudi government telethon that raised $100 million for the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. The UN agency UNWRA – which provides essential welfare for over four million Palestinian refugees – is bestowed a pittance of $1.2million annually from the Saudi government. The annual UNWRA budget is $440 million and its largest contributor is the United States —which quietly donates $134 million. Thus Al-Waleed and his government clearly see the promotion of terrorism as a priority over the basic human needs of Palestinian refugees.
Al-Waleed has also been indulging in self-promotion. Former CNN journalist Riz Khan produced a flattering documentary that features an interview with Rupert Murdoch, who says kind things about his associate, the Prince. Khan has also written an authorised biography of Al-Waleed where he portrays him as "a twenty-first-century ambassador who could be the ultimate bridge to connect the Middle East and the West." The biography is published by Murdoch's publishing house Harper Collins, and Riz Khan moves on to work for Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Ladens' broadcaster of choice —Al-Jazeera.
According to AIM, Murdoch was asked during the Khan documentary about Al-Waleed's behaviour at Ground Zero in 2001. It's "politics", he quipped. The Washington Post interviewed Georgetown Centre director, John Esposito, who said there was nothing wrong with Al-Waleed expressing his opinion on USA foreign policy and he added, he was "trying to give people the context in which this [terrorist attack] occurred.
The growing public acceptance of anti-Jewish hatred throughout the world reflects the normalisation of antisemitism and terrorism. Under these circumstances, one wonders why Georgetown didn't add Al-Waleed's $20 million to its new Center for Jewish Civilisation – which studies bridging the gap between Judaism and Islam – rather than expanding its Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.
Sharon Lapkin is a former Australian Army Officer and a postgraduate student at the University of Melbourne.