The University of Delaware last week withdrew an invitation to Asaf Romirowsky, a fellow at the Middle East Forum and an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) veteran, to appear on a discussion panel.
Mr. Romirowsky was invited to speak at a university forum sponsored by the College Republicans and College Democrats on the topic of anti-Americanism in the Middle East. Others scheduled to appear on the panel included Clinton-era National Security Council official Stuart Kaufman, University of Delaware political science professor Muqtedar Khan and a graduate student.
But upon learning that the university had invited Mr. Romirowsky, who is also manager of Israel and Middle East affairs for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, to appear at the forum, Mr. Khan wrote a letter to one of the panel's organizers, identified only as "Laura," expressing displeasure at having to appear publicly with a former IDF soldier.
"I am ... not sure how I feel about being on the same panel with an Israeli soldier who was stationed in West Bank," Dr. Khan wrote. "Some people see IDF as an occupying force in the West Bank. I am not sure that I will be comfortable occupying the same space with him. It is not fair to spring this surprise on me at the last moment."
In Israel, military service is mandatory barring special circumstances. Therefore, Mr. Romirowsky noted, Mr. Khan's objecting to appearing with a member of the IDF would likely rule out his appearing with most Israeli scholars.
Panel organizers subsequently told the IDF veteran, a citizen of both the United States and Israel, that he ought not attend the panel but that he would find himself welcome speaking to university students at a later date. Mr. Romirowsky said he would rather not do so.
"At this point there's a larger issue," he told The Bulletin. "This is a symptom of the problem [in the universities] we have been dealing with all along."
Mr. Romirowsky has worked on the Middle East Forum's "Campus Watch" project, an attempt to identify and elucidate anti-Western bias in university Middle East studies programs.
Mr. Romirowsky, currently working toward his Ph.D. in Mediterranean Studies at Kings College in London, has called attention to the ties Mr. Khan has forged over the years to groups allegedly affiliated with Islamic terrorists.
Mr. Khan, for example, served on the board of directors of the Washington-based Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) from 1999 to 2003. The organization counts among its fellows Kamran Bokhari, a man who, according to Middle East Forum director Daniel Pipes, has served as a spokesman for Al-Muhajiroun, a group that has reportedly included among its members at least one terrorist who participated in suicide terrorism in Israel.
"That's the problem with a lot of these groups," Mr. Romirowsky said. "They sell themselves as legitimate organizations, and they really have ties to terrorism."
Mr. Khan also currently serves as a nonresident senior fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institution. Neither Mr. Khan nor Brookings spokespersons returned a call for comment.