Middle East and Academic Integrity on
the American Campus
Columbia University in the City of New York
March 6, 2005
Environments of Hate: Indoctrination in the Arab World and Propaganda
Advocacy in America’s University Classrooms
I'm honored to bring Columbia a unique perspective concerning the
academic freedom issue. I see similarities between the issue and
my personal experiences growing up. I was raised in an Arabic society
in Lebanon that took impressionable young minds and filled them
with propaganda. Minds that were young and didn't know any better.
I am an eyewitness and a victim of the indoctrination of hate education,
racism, intolerance, intimidation and fabricated lies by my government
and religious influences.
This indoctrination was for one purpose: To eradicate the newborn
state of Israel; To foment hatred and wipe out Jewish presence in
an Arab dominated world. For Arabs, the simple existence of Israel
was viewed as a catastrophe...al nakbah! This pan
Arab hate indoctrination was a reaction to Jews returning to their
homeland after Arabic and Islamic belief for 1400 years that the
Yahuds were vanquished and subjugated as Dhimmi.
I believe hate motivated indoctrination fosters irrational thinking
and faulty reasoning whether it influenced my education as a child
in Lebanon or the “advocacy education” that roils the
classrooms here at Columbia. This is the root cause, for the controversy
swirling around several members of the Middle East Asia Languages
Arts and Culture (MEALAC) faculty and their alleged intimidation
of students and other faculty.
What is at stake is our future, the students of today who will become
tomorrow’s leaders. If their minds are poisoned with irrational
hatred and the hate is not combated and eliminated, then academic
freedom and free speech in an open marketplace of competitive ideas
But let me begin by talking about my experience growing up in Lebanon
where doctrinal hatred of Jews and Israel was ever present.
From Television programs, to national songs, hourly radio newscasts
and newspapers, our citizens were fed a steady diet of lies poisoning
our attitudes towards the Jews. Israel - Aaesrael , Israel is the
devil. Al-Yahud shayateen, The Jews are evil. Sarakou
Al-Ard Al Arabiyah. They stole Arab land. Al Wakt
al wahid allazi yassir endana salam huwa lamma naqtul kul al yahud
wa narmihum bil bahr, The only time we'll have peace in
the Middle East is when we kill all the Jews and drive them into
the sea. Every time Israel was mentioned it was attached to the
phrase, Al adew al Israeli. The Israeli enemy.
My country and others saw nothing wrong with practicing this form
of mind abuse. Of taking a generation hostage, molding them into
misguided weapons; some willing to be martyred in the name of Islam
or Palestinian nationalism. It's a form of mental child abuse taking
place in every Arab country.
As a Maronite Lebanese I went to a Christian private school. The
pervasive national animosity toward the Jews affected us there to
the extent that our Bibles did not include nor did we study the
Old Testament. We didn't even know it was a part of the bible. We
were told that the Torah is the enemy's book. We were young. We
didn't know any better. These were our teachers. We respected them
and trusted them.
Had I not had the opportunity for an up-close and personal experience
with the Israelis, I would have had nothing by which to judge or
compare what I was being told by my society.
My eyes were opened when I spent 22 days in a hospital in northern
Israel in the early 1980’s. I watched unbelievably as Israeli
doctors treated my mother wounded by an artillery shell before he
treated the wounded Iisral soldier lying next to her. They treated
Lebanese Muslims and Palestinian militia fighters on a par with
wounded IDF soldiers. I was shocked that this enemy, hated by the
Arabs, treated us all with utmost courtesy, compassion, and respect.
It was a transforming experience countering the lies and all the
propaganda that I had been indoctrinated in as a child. Ultimately,
I made a commitment to leave my home country and move to Israel
to be with these people whose values I respected.
I ended up working in Israel as a television news anchor. I never
felt like a second class citizen in Israel. To solidify my commitment
to Israel I buried my beloved parents remains in the same Mount
Zion cemetery in Jerusalem where the grave of a "ger t'zeddik"
or righteous gentile-Oscar Shindler would one day be. I was tired
of the lies exaggerations and manipulations of Arabic society, which
brings me to another parallel concerning academic freedom and objectivity.
Where is objectivity in the Arab world when they claim that the
destruction of the World Trade Center was a CIA/Mossad plot? Where
is objectivity on campuses when similar claims and distortions are
made? Can there be objectivity when advocacy and hatred is involved?
Professor Richard Bullet was right when he coined the term “advocacy
education.” How can a student get the facts by which to make
a decision when professors advocate in their courses using ideological
distortions to force form opinion instead of providing objective
information for students to form their own opinions?
The lies that Arab society tried to teach me as a child in Lebanon
are the same as those spread under the guise of academic freedom
on the Morningside campus of Columbia. During a recent speech at
a Columbia Law school forum, Professor Massad repeated 24 times
in a half-hour that, "Israel is a racist Jewish apartheid oppressive
state." His exercise in academic freedom ignores the facts.
As a Middle Easterner brought up on this patent "Israel is
a racist state" propaganda, I discovered it is total hate inspired
nonsense. I've seen with my own eyes what kind of society Israel
is. I consider Israel to be one of the most multi-racial and multi-cultural
countries in the world. There are no racial restrictions on becoming
a citizen of Israel like there are in many Arab countries. Remember,
Jews can't live in the neighboring Arab Kingdom of Jordan or in
the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Israel's multi-racial society belies the charge of Racism. More
than 100 different countries of the world are represented in the
population of Israel. Consider how the Israeli government spent
tens of millions of dollars airlifting more than 40,000 black Ethiopian
Jews to Israel in 1984 and 1991. Since 2001 Israel has reached out
to help others taking in non-Jewish refugees from Lebanon, the Ivory
Coast, Sierra Leone, Vietnam, Liberia, Congo and even Bosnian Muslims.
How many such refugees have the 22 states in the Arab league taken
in? The Arab world won't even give Palestinian refugees citizenship
in their host countries.
Over one million Arabs are full Israel citizens. An Arab sits on
the Supreme Court of Israel. There are Arab political parties expressing
views inimical to the State of Israel sitting in the Knesset, Israel's
parliament. Women are equal partners in Israel and have complete
human rights. Professor Massad... show me an Arab nation with a
Jew in their government. Show me an Arab country with half as many
Jewish citizens as Israel has Arab citizens. I'll borrow some of
your academic freedom now and say that Arab nations are the real
racist and oppressive states.
In the David Project film, “Columbia Unbecoming,” you
hear a word familiar to us in the Arab world mentioned by these
brave students and Rabbi Charles Sheer, the emeritus executive director
of Barnard /Columbia Hillel. The word is: intimidation.
And people here at Columbia are up in arms that intimidation is
mentioned? Let me tell you about intimidation. I know what using
fear to deny freedom of thought is. In parts of the Arab world freely
expressing your thoughts can get you killed. I said things as a
news anchor that the Arabs did not like and it got my picture published
in Hezbollah and PLO newspapers and magazines saying I should be
What sort of academic atmosphere do you think that would foster
here on American campuses? I'd like to think the ACLU would be up
in arms and coming to my defense. As one who escaped repression
and came to America I'm shocked that such elitists as the ACLU are
the enemy to the pursuit of freedom. That people in America support
the oppressive actions that I left in the Middle East simply astounds
Here at Columbia or DePaul I find more irony. When you speak out
as a student you are told by some of the MEALAC faculty to leave
the classroom. In the case of Professor Thomas Klocek at DePaul
University you are suspended without due process for challenging
lies about Israelis being Nazi occupiers by a Students for Justice
in Palestine campus group. These are matters to be addressed by
the Columbia administration, the ACLU and the AAUP now. What we're
getting is people hiding behind psychobabble about “academic
freedom and free speech." What we see is freedom being used
to spread lies, bar the facts, bend the truth and poison the minds
of future leaders.
Speaking for millions who suffered and those still suffering under
tyranny and oppression... we don't understand how people in American
universities, who have enjoyed freedom for so long, can abuse that
very freedom by doing things that hinder the spread of freedom throughout
I see another parallel involving history that is happening here
at Columbia and on other campuses. Anti Semites and anti Israelis
have tapped into that part of the DNA of most Jews that paralyzes
them from being confrontational when attacked. It's as if the Arabs
studied Krystallnacht...the "night of broken glass" November
9th, 1938 in Nazi Germany. Scare Jews off and they will not respond
or won't come back. Turning academic freedom into academic intimidation
is the tactic being used here at Columbia and other campuses across
These ideologues know that they are teaching students who have no
background or prior knowledge of the Middle East situation. What
they are doing is an extension of what is taking place in schools
in Palestinian and Muslim madrasses across the Islamic crescent.
Repeat a lie enough and it becomes truth. You listen to what we
say. If you don't there will be consequences.
I have heard that a graduate student at the School of International
and Public Affairs here at Columbia approached a professor about
holding programs on global anti-Semitism. The tenured faculty member
said that he would be "blacklisted." Blacklisted by other
Columbia faculty for even raising the topic. Further, this young
graduate student was told not to even think of bringing up the subject
of Genocide in the Sudan! Sounds like intellectual fascism to me.
This brings me to something I was surprised to discover. I have
always known that Jews are into studying and debating and being
informed people. I knew about the Bar and Bat Mitzvah preparation
and really thought that American Jewish children were prepared for
life. What shocked me, really confounded me was how totally unprepared
teenage Jews are when it comes to understanding the history of the
Middle East conflict. The Jewish community has let freshmen down
in preparing them to face what biased or hate filled college environments
are throwing at them today.
Let me tell you something else about hate in the Arabic environment.
Arab children are taught hatred of the Jew from their mother's milk.
They are constantly bombarded with stories and information presenting
the Jew as barbaric, conniving, manipulative, warmongering people.
You name it. While the Jew is taught patience, humility, service
and charity to all:”tikkun olam”-to repair the world.
No wonder professors with an agenda of hate propaganda can intimidate
and belittle young Jewish students. It is time for the Jewish community
to wake up. It is time that Jewish youths are prepared to do battle
in the open cockpit of debate in college classrooms.
It is also time for tenured faculty at Columbia, Carnegie Mellon,
DePaul, Duke, the University of California at Irvine to find their
moral compasses and rise up with their colleagues and administrations
to reclaim their campuses from the poisonous indoctrination of hate.
Reclaim it and return the classroom to an intimidation free environment
for young minds to learn the truth through open debate and give
them, us and the world a better future.
(Ms. Brigitte Gabriel is founder
of the American Congress for Truth. Born and raised in Lebanon she
was wounded during the war in Lebanon. She moved to Israel in 1984’
and became a prominent Middle East news anchor before marrying her
American husband and coming to he United States. She owns her own
TV production company. In her capacity as head of ACT, she is a
frequent lecturer on t he Middle East to college and university
and general audiences in America.)