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The Saudi fifth column on our nation’s campuses -by Lee Kaplan

From Riyadh to Ramallah to the Ivy League, Saudi Arabia’s “Wahhabi Lobby” is funding the goals of radical Islam and undermining America’s War On Terror. The press has reported the Department of Justice’s closures of Saudi “charitable” fronts like the Muslim World League, the Al-Haramain Foundation, the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), and others that raised money for al-Qaeda, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.1 But the government has so far ignored an even larger network of Saudi front groups working to establish the party line on our nation’s campuses. This network is embedded deep within our system of higher education, including many of our most prestigious universities. The Saudis have steadily infiltrated American educational institutions with vast infusions of cash.2 At the same time they look to steer college curricula and public opinion – especially about the Middle East – toward their Wahhabist goals.3

Saudi Wahhabism fuels a fiery hatred for the West’s religious tolerance. It views attempts by the West to promote democratic reforms within its medieval Arab monarchy as an affront to Islam. In other words, it shares the religious and political views of its wayward Saudi son Osama bin Laden. Accordingly, the Saudi royal family has been waging its own quiet jihad of disinformation to advance its goals. The Senate Judiciary Committee recently heard testimony from fellow senators and terrorism experts that the Bush administration has not recognized the dangers posed by Saudi influence. In fact, the kingdom controls most of the Muslim organizations in the United States. For instance, 80 percent of the mortgages on mosques in the U.S. are paid for by the Wahhabi Saudis.

Over the last 30 years, the Saudi royal family has contributed upwards of $70 billion to spread its anti-American and anti-Israeli propaganda. This sum, it has been observed, makes the one billion dollars per annum spent by the Soviet Union during the Cold War pale by comparison.4 To quote the Saudi English language daily, Ain Al Yaqueen: “The kingdom of Saudi Arabia, under the custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz, has positively shouldered responsibility and played a promising role in order to raise the banner of Islam all over the globe and raise the Islamic call either inside or outside the kingdom.”5

The new head of Middle East Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Stephen Humphreys, holds a chair named after Aziz himself. The head of the Muslim American Society, W. Deen Muhammed, has stated that Saudi gifts require the receiver to prefer the Saudi “school of thought.” While Humphreys denies there are strings attached, one wonders how a thesis on Saudi misogyny or the diseased ramblings of the kingdom’s educational system would go over in Saudi-funded departments, if its author hoped to become tenured.6

One wonders why a theocratic totalitarian regime where 30 to 50 percent of the population is illiterate,7 and where Ph.D. recipients teach that Jews use the blood of Gentile children to make matzoh,8 would not devote some of the money it has invested in the American educational system to enhancing its own. Yet the money the Saudis are pouring into our universities in the form of gifts and endowments is alarming: King Fahd donated $20 million dollars to set up a Middle East Studies Center at the University of Arkansas; $5 million was donated to UC Berkeley’s Center For Middle East Studies from two Saudi sheiks linked to funding al-Qaeda;9 $2.5 million dollars to Harvard; $8.1 million dollars to Georgetown; $11 million dollars to Cornell; $1.5 million dollars to Texas A&M; $5 million dollars to MIT; $1 million dollars to Princeton. Rutgers received $5 million dollars to endow a chair. So did Columbia, which tried to obscure the money’s source.10 Other recipients of Saudi largesse include UC-Santa Barbara, Johns Hopkins, Rice University, American University, University of Chicago, Syracuse University, USC, UCLA, Duke University and Howard University, among many others.11

Saudi infiltration works on several levels. By creating new Middle East Studies Centers and such endowed chairs on campuses across the nation, the Saudis are able to influence the curriculum taught to the next generation of Americans. That curriculum is decidedly anti-Western, anti-Christian and anti-Jewish.12 This curriculum “molds” the next generation to revile Israel and America as “imperialist” and “racist” nations.13

For example, according to Middle East historian Martin Kramer, Columbia University has become the “Bir Zeit (University) on-the- Hudson.”14 (Bir Zeit is a university built for the Palestinians by Israel in the West Bank, which has become a breeding ground for terrorists.) At Columbia, Palestinians dominate the teaching of the modern Middle East and spread a one-sided view of the Arab-Israeli conflict.15 Whenever a chair is endowed by Saudi money, it is filled by academics known more for their activism than their scholarship.

Columbia’s newest activist fits this mold. Rashid Khalidi is a University of Chicago historian and Palestinian activist. Khalidi took over the “Edward Said Chair Of Arab Studies.” The late Said, who was raised in Egypt, was a member of the Palestine National Council and a virulently anti-Israel activist who thought the Oslo peace process was a “sellout.”16 Said was an English Literature professor whose expertise was Jane Austen, yet his anti-American and anti-Israeli writings continue to dominate Middle East Studies departments across the nation.

Khalidi is on record defending the killing of Israeli soldiers. “Killing civilians is a war crime, whoever does it,” he says, “but resistance to occupation is legitimate in international law.”17 Khalidi is an obsessive Israel-basher and has stated Americans are “brainwashed” by Israeli Jews. He also considered U.S. popular support for overthrowing Saddam Hussein an “idiots’ consensus.”18

He is joined in Columbia’s Middle East Studies program by Palestinian professor Joseph Massad, an implacable foe of both the U.S. and Israel. Massad likes to denigrate American democracy by alluding to its legacy of slavery, and accuses America of nuclear genocide for dropping the atomic bomb to end World War II. He has also characterized Israel as a “settler movement allied with European imperialism.”19

With Khalidi’s appointment as chair, and Massad as the main instructor on Middle Eastern politics and history at Columbia, the Palestinian propaganda flows freely. Even Lisa Anderson, head of International Studies at Columbia, has publicly conceded that Middle East Studies at Columbia are not balanced, nor are they at other Middle East Studies centers nationwide.20 What is more telling is that Columbia tried to conceal where the money came from to fund Khalidi’s chair until pressure from outside academics and the state of New York required it.21 Daniel Pipes has remarked that choosing Khalidi for the Columbia chair is particularly egregious because he is one of a team of “Palestinian falsifiers who are all giving us this propagandist, non-scholarly interpretation of the Middle East.” Steve Emerson, who frequently reports to Congress on terrorism issues, commented, Khalidi’s stance “raises serious questions about his attitudes on violence.”22

But Columbia is not alone. Such departments and professors are now found in Middle East Studies programs nationwide.
UC-Berkeley’s Center for Middle East Studies boasts of receiving a $5 million dollar grant courtesy of Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and Sheikh Salahudin Yusef Hamza Abdeljawad. Both are linked to Islamic charities the U.S. government lists as front groups providing funding for al-Qaeda, and both are now part of a $1 trillion dollar lawsuit by the families of the victims of 9/11.
Their contributions link through a labyrinth of banks and “charitable institutions” that ultimately finance terrorism against the West. Al-Saud gives generously to the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, the Muslim League and World Assembly of Muslim Youth – all named by the State Department as fronts for terrorist funding. Abdeljawad is linked to the Saudi Dar-Al-Maal-Islami Bank, founded by Osama bin Laden and managed by Osama’s brother, which the State Department has also said funds terrorism.23 Did Sultan Al-Saud give money to bin Laden in this way? The evidence should give the reader pause; the Sultan’s foundation website lists a “Higher Council,” or board of directors, which includes one Abdulrahman bin Ali Jeraisy, whom a Congressional report has named as a fundraiser for al-Qaeda.24
The Saudi investment in UC-Berkeley has reaped rich dividends of hatred. Not only was the Israel divestment petition was begun at UC-Berkeley and promoted by Berkeley faculty,25 but a Berkeley instructor hired to teach Arabic told his students that the notorious anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols Of the Learned Elders Zion was indeed written by Jews. (The school newspaper was not much more helpful, saying only that “many” historians believe the Protocols are a forgery.)When a Jewish student complained, she was attacked by the instructor’s supervisor, who called her a liar and threatened her with a libel suit!26
Saudi-endowed chairs and departments have produced American college faculty who spout the same kind of propaganda provided to eighth graders in Saudi Arabia. At Connecticut State University, Norton Mezvinsky equated Judaism with “racism” and claimed that Jews believe “the blood of non-Jews has no intrinsic value”; therefore, the killing of non-Jews does “not constitute murder according to the Jewish religion.” Indeed, according to Mezvinsky, Judaism teaches “the killing of innocent Arabs for revenge is a Jewish virtue.” While textbooks in Saudi Arabia claim “the Zionist Jews are the enemies of Islam and supporters of the modern Crusaders,” Stanford Middle East Studies professor and former head of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) Joel Beinin rails against America’s “Zionist lobby” that flexes its power “to make and unmake regimes.” The U.S. government this lobby controls is responsible for “blocking democracy and economic development in the Arab world.”27
The Middle East Studies department at the University of Arkansas, set up under King Fahd, offers an Arabic language program. A sample newsletter published by the department contains a full-page poem translated by some of the student body’s Arabic language students entitled “A Letter To A Faraway Friend (from inside the occupied territory).” The poem praises martyrdom and death. Elsewhere, the newsletter insists the term jihad means only a personal struggle, and that Muslim women love wearing the veil. The sole guest lecturer to the department mentioned on its site is Joel Beinin.28
Examples abound on campuses all over the country. Harvard received a $2 million dollar grant from Sheik Khalid Al Turki. For its graduation ceremony, Harvard chose a student, Zayed Yasin, for commencement speaker. His speech? “My American Jihad.” Yasin has voiced his support for Hamas and says suicide bombers’ families should be paid. He also has raised money for the Holy Land Foundation, one of the Islamic charities shut down by the Bush administration as a front for al-Qaeda.29 Martin Kramer’s book Ivory Towers On Sand: The Failure Of Middle East Studies illustrates many other similar situations on U.S. campuses.
Saudi money sets up these academic departments, but U.S. taxpayers underwrite the programs themselves. This is done through Title VI funding mandated by Congress. Originated in the late 1950s during the Cold War, Title VI received an additional $86 million dollars after 9/11 as part of the Education Act. This allowed the creation of 118 Middle East Resource Centers at U.S. colleges and universities. In these centers, Arabic would be taught and security analysis developed for use in the War On Terror, but the program has been seriously abused. Most Middle East Studies departments let their students slide with minimal Arabic instruction. The focus is instead on research articles that sound the anti-American and anti-Israeli drumbeat.30
The funds also go toward “outreach” in secondary schools. For example at Georgetown University, such an outreach program is provided for teachers from kindergarten level through the 12th grade. Seminars are packed with pro-Palestinian and anti-American “antiwar” activists. For instance, the Georgetown seminar, held on the day Saddam Hussein’s statue was toppled in Baghdad, featured five speakers opposed to the liberation of the Iraqi people. No opposing views were presented.31
Once the Saudi endowments are complete, it is the U.S. taxpayer who foots the bill for continuing these Hate America programs via Title VI. The Wahhabi Lobby and its allies then regularly speak up against congressional oversight for such funding. Foremost on this front is Hussein Ibish, a non-academic leader of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, an organization created by a pro-Castro former congressman James Abourezk. Ibish frequently defends the status quo in his media appearances. (The AADC itself often supports Saudi interests.32 The group has received Saudi funds, but these monies are provided through third parties such as mosques and charitable organizations. This makes it impossible to know the extent of Saudi influence.)
Besides paying the salaries of academics who advance the Saudi party-line, Title VI money goes to what could be considered the Saudis’ “foot soldiers” on campus: Arab student activists. Arab students may train overseas during the summer in “activism,” then return to campus to ply their skills. As a result, anti-Jewish attacks are on the increase on our college campuses. At a pro-Israel rally in 2003, Jewish students at San Francisco State University needed to be escorted to safety by city police officers. (This caused one professor to compare the situation to Germany in the 1930’s.) At Concordia University, 1,500 students showed up to create a riot, preventing former Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from speaking on campus. Ticket holders needed a police escort off campus at that event, as well.
This tide of abuse needs to be addressed. Academic departments laden with political agendas directly violate the principles of Academic Freedom established by the American Association of University Professors. The one-sided nature of Middle Eastern Studies programs – funded by the Saudi royal family and favorable to their Wahhabi extremism – impedes education and fans the flames of violence on campus. Congress needs to take a hard look at the way it provides money to underwrite these programs. University trustees and administrators need to be held accountable for this anti-American indoctrination. Our students – and our nation – deserve better.

1. Mowbray, Joel. “Saudis Behaving Badly.” National Review Online. December 20, 2002.
5. Shapiro, Ben. “King Fahd’s Plan to Conquer America.” December 20, 2002.
10. Beery, Ariel. “Wherefore Columbia?” Columbia Spectator. September 25, 2003.
11. Glickman, Jane, public affairs officer for the U.S. Dept. of Education. Personal interview on September 4, 2003.
12. Stalinsky, Steven. “Inside the Saudi Classroom.” National Review Online. February 7, 2003.
13. Harris, Jonathan Calt. “A Saudi Education Right Here at Home.” National Review Online. June 19, 2003. Also posted at:
15. Beam, Chris. “Is the MEALAC Department Balanced?” Columbia Spectator. April 28, 2003.
16. Horowitz, David. “Three Political Romancers.” FrontPage Magazine. September 27, 1999. Online at:
17. Norton, Augustus Richard. “Breaking the Gulf Stalemate Strategy.” Los Angeles Times. November 18, 1990.
19. Massad, Joseph. “Curriculum Reform Should Start in the U.S. and Israel.” The Electronic Intifada. August 18, 2003.
22. Daifallah, Adam. “Hauser Helped Fund Professor of Hate.” New York Sun. July 23, 2003.
23. Sexton, Steve and Barron, Ben. “UC Berkeley Program Funded by Saudis with Links to Terrorism.” California Patriot. May 7, 2003.
24.; For the substance of the charges, see Epstein, Matthew and Kohlmann, Evan. Testimony before the House Cmte. on Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. March 11, 2003.
26. On the newspaper’s treatment of the Protocols, see Professor Reginald Zelnik’s letter to the editor of August 19, 2003, entitled, “Protocols Are Undisputed Forgery Among Historians.”
27.; see also
28. “Inspiratio,” Fall 2001. Issue 1, No. 1. Online at:
29. Pipes, Daniel. “Harvard Loves Jihad.” New York Post. June 11, 2002. Also, Livadas, George. “Harvard’s ‘Inner Struggle.’” Accuracy in Academia website. Online at:
30.; see also:
32.; also: (note discussion of American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee touring Saudi information minister); also:; also:

Source: Front Page Magazine

About the author

Dr Uzma Ali


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