A visiting Palestinian professor at Florida Atlantic University, Mustafa Abu Sway, is "known as an activist" in Hamas, a group on the American government's terrorism list, we reported in October of 2003. We also disclosed that his salary is being paid by the American taxpayer, via the Fulbright exchange program.
Our little scoop met with yawns or with disbelief. Mr. Abu Sway himself, in an interview with the Palm Beach Post, denounced our article as a "witch hunt." Florida Atlantic University ignored the disclosure: "We have no reason to take any action," the university's president told the Post, a paper that published four skeptical responses, including an editorial insisting that "there is no known evidence" against Mr. Abu Sway.
Actually, being named as "a known activist" in Hamas by the Israeli government — who knows terrorism better ? — qualifies in itself as "evidence," but since October we have learned that Mr.Abu Sway also, according to Israeli sources:
Was a board member and raised funds for two Jerusalem-based Hamas-related organizations, the Heritage Committee and the Foundation for the Development of Society. The Israeli government shut down both organizations in February 2003.
Has worked with the Palestinian "Charity Coalition" that includes such organizations as Al-Aqsa Foundation of South Africa and France's Comité de Bienfaisance et de Secours aux Palestiniens. Both are known as Hamas fund-raisers which have had their assets frozen by the American government.
Is connected to Sheik Ra'ed Salah's Islamic Movement in Um al-Fahm, Israel, 14 members of which were arrested in May 2003 for Hamas fundraising.
If this does not count as evidence of ties to Hamas, we are not sure what does.
In a written response to us, Mr. Abu Sway denies each of these points, other than board membership on the Foundation for the Development of Society and meeting Mr. Ra'ed Salah one time.
How does one assess his denial? As one usually does in such matters, by checking a person's general credibility.
Mr. Abu Sway these days says, according to the Palm Beach Post,"I cherish the Jewish presence" in Israel "and advocate non-violence." But in the past, before he was under scrutiny, he spoke very differently:
At a 2002 interfaith meeting in Israel, reports Christianity Today, he remarked, "to audible gasps from Jews in the audience, that he wished the state of Israel ‘would disappear.'"
The Jerusalem Jewish Voice, reporting on the same meeting, recorded Mr. Abu Sway saying that he wished for "the end of the state of Israel."
In a 2003 study published by the U.S. Institute of Peace, Mr. Abu Sway is quoted as stating: "To imagine shared sovereignty or dual sovereignty is not being faithful to Islamic tradition," and specifically calling for an Islamic state of Palestine to replace Israel.
The contradiction here points to a clever switching of messages as suits his needs of the moment.
Another example: Speaking to an American audience via ABC News in 2002, Mr.Abu Sway deemed the Arabic term jihad "a very beautiful concept which is deep in the area of spirituality." But in his role as co-author of a Palestinian Authority textbook, available at www.edume.org, he explained to seventh-graders that jihad is a military obligation that "becomes the individual religious duty of every Muslim man and woman — if the enemy has conquered part of its land." Should the American taxpayer honor someone credibly accused of supporting a terrorist organization with a Fulbright fellowship? Should Florida Atlantic University continue to have him teach its students?
Those students have their doubts, judging by a December 2003 memo sent by the FAU associate dean, Lynn Appleton, in which she lamented the lack of interest in Mr. Abu Sway's course on "Islam and Politics" this semester and exhorted the faculty to recruit more bodies.
"Enrollment is small and stagnant," she wrote. "Could you put up some posters — very rapidly! Is there an email list of majors to which information could be sent? Let me know what you are able to do." She ends on a plaintive note, "I would hate to see the course cancelled." Her efforts succeeded ; the once-endangered course now boasts 21 registered students.
The Fulbright program and Florida Atlantic University can thus congratulate themselves on promoting militant Islamic indoctrination by a man connected to terrorism.
For those less than thrilled with this class, FAU's president, Frank Brogan, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Fulbright program's chairman, Steven J. Uhlfelder, who is a former member of the board of governors that oversees FAU, is at email@example.com.