On Tuesday, April 1, a number of us attended an anti-war teach-in at Fairfield University
We compliment the university for mounting what Father Jim Bowler, SJ, Jesuit Mission and Identity, called an "alternate lesson." This panel and open discussion was to be in the best Jesuit tradition cited by Father Tom Regan, a Socratic dialogue that should result in truth.
Unfortunately, truth did not extend to the outrageous, noxious, anti-Semitic canards that Prof. Ralph Coury spouted during his leading talk: "History and Oil."
Coury, distinguished professor of 19th and 20th century Middle East history at Fairfield, strikes the observer as a white-haired grandfatherly type. He prides himself on "demystifying the Middle East" for his students.
What he really is, as evidenced by his presentation at the teach-in at Fairfield University, is an abusive anti-Semite. In response to his claims that Zionists and the Christian right wing are driving the Bush White House, we as Jews in this community arc outraged at the implications of Coury that we are responsible for the present war in Iraq.
With his negative use of the term "Zionist," and references to Influence peddling in the Congress and with the White House, Coury is in league with the Aryan Nation, David Dukes, and other known anti-Semitic groups, creating mythology and conspiracy theories about the mysterious and sinister powers of the Jewish community in America, and playing out paranoid theories about global Jewish domination.
That he professes these dangerous views was also the opinion of a faculty colleague of Coury, a senior professor of philosophy and applied ethics who publicly took him to task for his allusion to the infamous Czarist secret police forgery, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion."
After being asked a few questions only about his background, Coury accused his questioner of being an agent for leading Middle East commentator Daniel Pipes and Campus Watch, and included a scatological obscenity that was totally uncharacteristic of any scholar or gentleman
Both Coury's panel presentation and response to query does not in our view constitute civil discourse, and besmirches Fairfield University's fine record of community relations.
Coury's anti-Semitic public utterances and private abusive comments are unwarranted and deserving of official reprimand.
We would hope that the administration might demonstrate its vaunted unbiased adherence both to free speech rights as well as personal professional accountability.
Director of Community Relations
Jewish Center for Community Services