A column in an Egyptian weekly newspaper by a Northeastern University professor sparked outrage among his colleagues over the economist's attempt to justify the actions of Palestinian suicide bombers who have slaughtered hundreds of innocent Israelis.
M. Shahid Alam, a full professor, wrote in the Egyptian English- language paper Al-Ahram Weekly that Israel has carried out "ethnic cleansing" and turned Palestinian settlements into "concentration camps" in its quest for control and land.
Palestinians, according to Alam, are justified in their attacks because "resistance is a Palestinian right . . . dispossession is implemented by force, and it follows that resistance to the colonizer must also be violent."
Alam's article sent shockwaves through the Fenway campus yesterday as incredulous colleagues circulated e-mail copies of the piece, which began as a defense of an academic boycott against Israel.
"I'm angry, but by the same token I understand his frustration," said associate professor Stephen Kane, who is Jewish. "But I think his arguments, his rationale and vitriolic behavior are unacceptable."
Kane said news coverage of the attackers, who have detonated their bombs on public buses and outside cafes and dance halls, should be enough to show anyone the terror campaign is immoral.
"I do not feel anything justifies suicide bombs and the murder of innocent civilians, regardless of whether or not those civilians are Jewish or Palestinian," said Kane, who works in the cooperative education division. "It's wrong."
This semester Alam is teaching a graduate course in international economic development. Attempts to reach him by phone and e-mail were unsuccessful yesterday.
Northeastern University President Richard Freeland was unavailable for comment yesterday, but a spokeswoman tried to distance the university from Alam's remarks.
"We're aware of it and we know professor Alam made his remarks entirely as an individual," said Emily Donahue. "His remarks are not condoned or officially recognized by Northeastern."