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COLUMN

Chilling Charge a Patent Lie

Guest Column

We live in dangerous times of increasing government threats to civil liberties and attacks against immigrants. This is the context within which The Tech has published a patent lie.

The lie is not one hurled lightly, but with deliberation. It is not one simply issued to score rhetorical points, but one that will chill discussion and dissent at an institution where intellectual honesty and open debate is supposed to prevail. And more than anything, it is a lie that, once created, calls into question the very safety of its innocent victim.

Joshua S. Katz, an MIT freshman, has written a letter to The Tech in which he states that Amer Jubran is “an active supporter of Hamas, one of the world’s leading terrorist organizations.” According to Mr. Katz, Mr. Jubran therefore “has no business being in this country.” In fact, the letter-writer continues, “The community in which he is active is one of terror, and to fight terrorism, the ‘activists’ must be stopped.”

Every Tech reader should feel a chill running down her or his spine when reading these words.

Amer Jubran is a presence on the MIT campus. He spoke here recently on a panel about the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. He lectured for a political science class in January 2002 on the situation of the Palestinians in the Middle East and his own experience with police repression in this country.

Several of his co-founders of the New England Committee to Defend Palestine are MIT students, graduates, fellows, and faculty. That is Mr. Jubran’s “community.” And now it is painted with a broad and frightening brush as “terrorist.”

Mr. Katz has failed to adequately substantiate his scurrilous charge. So, he has let the lie stand. The truth is that Amer Jubran is no terrorist. He is a supporter of the rights of Palestinians to their liberation.

We believe Mr. Katz’s letter and charge that Mr. Jubran’s community is one of terror -- a charge that attacks not only Mr. Jubran but everyone who works with him or even dares to speak out against Israel and Zionism -- is part of an orchestrated effort on U.S. campuses to shut down dissent. It is part and parcel of a new wave of suppression of free speech. It is in league with similar efforts across the country. They run the gamut from the “Open Letter to the Jewish Community” sent out by the Rutgers University Hillel leadership, which demanded that Jews keep their consciences and their concerns about Israel silent, except within the closed confines of their “own community,” to the “Campus Watch” website established by Daniel Pipes and Martin Kramer of the Middle East Forum, where academics are denounced for having shown “hatred of Israel.” Pipes wants students to inform on professors who are guilty of “campus anti-Semitism.”

We don’t know whether Mr. Katz is the genuine author of his letter. Obviously, there are many out there who would gladly offer to help him in his effort to chill free speech on this campus. Wherever it comes from, though, it must be repudiated by every woman and man at MIT, irrespective of their views on the situation in the Middle East. Otherwise, what kind of university are we? And what will be The Tech’s excuse for its own complicity be if this lie is allowed to stand and spurs someone to harmful action?

Signed,

Scott M. Cooper

Saurabh Asthana ’00

Rawan N. Barakat

Noah Cohen

George M. Collins

Rod Driver

Stanislav Funiak

Lana Habash

Aram W. Harrow G

Richard Hugus

Martina Hurwitz

John Jarowski

Donna M. Joss

Gabrielle M. Magro

Rakhshanda Saleem

Micheal Shonle

Aimee L. Smith PhD ’02

Brice C. Smith G

Julia K. Steinberger G

Anton F. Van der Ven