Dear Claremont McKenna Alumni Chapter Presidents and Officers,
I thought I would direct your attention a series of articles I have written (and will continue to write) detailing the support of Professor Bassam Frangieh for terrorist groups, Hamas and Hezbollah. Professor Frangieh is the head of Claremont McKenna's Middle East Studies department, but a petition he signed has called for the Israeli academics to be boycotted.
You can read everything I have written on Bassam Frangieh's views here, as well as Professor Haley's past criticism of those radical groups here. My full feature writings on him for The Claremont Independent are here and here.
Frangieh has also said that he view Hamas, a terrorist group according to the State Department, "with great pleasure," rather curious views for someone that the college hopes will teach Arabic and Middle East studies to the next generation of American diplomats. (The links to those charges, and others, are reproduced below.)
President Gann, Bassam Frangieh, and Dean Hess have all refused repeated calls for comment. VP of Communications and Public Affairs Richard Rodner has tried to suppress the story and cover it up, by deleting all criticism of Frangieh's views from his Wikipedia page. (He signed his username "Rrodner".) Privately, Pam Gann has compared Frangieh's support of terrorist groups to the ballot testimony of Ken Miller, who testified in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, which indicates a rather false moral equivalence.
The story -- and there are several more postings to come -- has gone international, but we still have no comment from the Claremont administration. Perhaps you, in your official capacity, will be better about getting a response?
I am writing another story on the alumni reaction. If you would like to comment on it, please reply to this email or call me at [phone number redacted]. I will also honor the anonymity of any emails between us.
By getting some of Professor Bassam Frangieh’s Arabic interviews and writings translated, and reading them carefully, one Charles Johnson has compiled a damning indictment of Frangieh’s Jew-hatred and support for Islamist terrorism. For instance, Frangieh has written,
Johnson also uncovered Frangieh saying, in Arabic, that he viewed Hamas’ victory in Palestinian Authority elections in 2006 “with great pleasure” and saw Hamas and Hezbollah as all that stood between Arabs and “humiliation.” Johnson also reported this past April that Fragnieh had also in 2006 signed on to a petition supportive of Hezbollah that condemned Israel as a “Zionist killing machine.” And if all that isn’t good enough for you, Johnson also uncovered another petition Frangieh signed in 2007 that characterized then Senator and current Vice President Joe Biden’s plan to partition Iraq as a “Zionist plot” cooked up by “Zionist masters.”
It should be said that signing petitions is not the same as mouthing words oneself, but the act of signing certainly fairly binds a person to the contents therein. And the quotes unearthed by Johnson deserve to be examined in their context, in the remote chance that they can somehow absolve Frangieh of holding these atrocious views. (Frangieh could of course also come out now and say he condemns terrorism and Jew-hatred, but let’s not hold our breath.)
The professional fate of Bassam Frangieh or the Department of Middle East Studies that he heads, the conclusion of the campaign being waged by Johnson, or even what exactly is in Frangieh’s head (something we can’t possibly know, as we can’t know that of anyone) is not terribly important. What is important is how Claremont McKenna responds to the revelation of strong evidence that there is an unrepentant Jew-hater and supporter of Islamic terror among their faculty.
According to Johnson, the only response thus far was the president of the college’s comments last spring equating Frangieh’s views with those of another professor who supported Proposition 8, the ballot measure that amended California’s Constitution to make it plain that the state did not recognize same-sex marriage. As Johnson correctly notes, that in itself is a moral equivocation of monstrous proportions.
That is not to say that the college’s response to the issue is therefore straightforward. Simply firing Frangieh might not be an option if he is tenured. So what could they do?
The case of Kevin MacDonald, a Jew-hating professor of evolutionary psychology at nearby California State, Long Beach could serve as an example. After its own initial foot-dragging on this issue, in 2008 both the Academic Senate and the university president ultimately released statements condemning MacDonald’s views and making plain that they were not welcome at the school. More to the point, after the patently antisemitic nature of MacDonald’s views on Jews became widely known at the school in the early 2000’s, he quickly became a campus pariah, shunned at faculty meetings, subject to, by his own account and those of others, a thousand of the petty cuts that were open to the campus community even though his tenured position prevented them from firing him.
That was so because, with some exceptions and not, unfortunately, altogether (activities against MacDonald did not pick up steam at the school until he was also accused of “white supremacy,” a more difficult, though defensible, charge to make against him), most people on campus saw his Jew-hatred for what it was, and saw it as unacceptable.
Such is simply not the case on campus today when Jew-hatred comes from the mouth of a professor of Arabic who identifies with the radical political left and not from the pen of a professor of psychology who identifies with the radical political right. The state of affairs is so parlous that we can’t even be assured any longer that schools will draw bright lines around Holocaust denial.
So, the minor affair at Claremont McKenna over its professor of Arabic, whatever its conclusions, will likely remain one more shining example of the inability of the vast majority of our campuses to view bigotry against Jews with moral clarity. Some of our students are demanding better. To make the case for Israel, we need to learn how to support them.