We broke the news in October 2003 that Mustafa Abu Sway, a visiting Palestinian professor at Florida Atlantic University, is “known as an activist” in Hamas, a group on the U.S. government’s terrorism list. We also revealed that his salary is being paid by the U.S. taxpayer (via the Fulbright exchange program).
Our little scoop met with yawns or with disbelief. Abu Sway himself denounced our article as a “witch hunt.” FAU ignored the revelation (“we have no reason to take any action”). The hometown Palm Beach Post published four skeptical responses, including an editorial insisting that “there is no known evidence” against 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 we since October have learned that Abu Sway also:
· 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, both of which were shut down in February 2003.
· Has worked with the Palestinian “Charity Coalition” that includes such organizations as Al-Aqsa Foundation (South Africa) and Comité de Bienfaisance et de Secours aux Palestiniens (France), both known as Hamas fundraisers.
· Is connected to Sheikh 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, Abu Sway denies each of these points, other than board membership on the Foundation for the Development of Society and meeting 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.
Abu Sway these days says, “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 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, Abu Sway is quoted 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, 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 FAU Associate Dean Lynn M. Appleton in which she lamented the lack of interest in 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 T. Brogan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Fulbright program’s Chair Steven J. Uhlfelder (who is a former member of the board of governors that oversees FAU) is at email@example.com.
Daniel Pipes (www.DanielPipes.org) is director and Asaf Romirowsky is a research associate, both with the Middle East Forum.