Professors in Country Known For Using Slave Labor Criticize Israeli 'Persecution'

Northwestern University in Qatar faculty ignore host country's crimes

May 17, 2021

At least 75 percent of the professors at Northwestern University in Qatar on Friday condemned Israel as an "apartheid" state that commits "crimes against humanity," ignoring allegations of modern-day slavery against their host country.

In a letter sent to students and staff at the university’s Middle Eastern campus, the professors accuse the Jewish state of "persecution" and "express their full support" for Palestinians "who are fighting against continued forced displacement and for their inalienable rights and dignity."

Faculty and students at schools across the country have used ongoing Hamas attacks as an excuse to criticize Israel. The University of Michigan’s student government last week sent a letter to the student body that used the conflict to endorse the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. A Virginia school board official referred to Israel as an "apartheid" state that "kills Palestinians" in two social media posts on Thursday.

Three more professors have signed on to the letter since it was posted Friday. None of the original 27 signatories responded to the Washington Free Beacon's request for comment.

Jonathan Schanzer, a Middle East expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Free Beacon that Qatar’s opposition to academic freedom suggests the professors’ statement "will be viewed as carrying water for the regime in Doha."

"It’s not a good look, to put it mildly," Schanzer said. He added that Qatar itself is a "longstanding supporter of the terrorist group Hamas, as well as the Taliban, al Qaeda and other jihadist organizations."

At least two of the Northwestern signatories have minimized terrorism in the past. Professor Justin Martin celebrated the September 11 attacks on Twitter in 2019 and said America "is complicit" in terror.

"Happy 9/11," the professor tweeted, "more than 8,441 civilians died in Yemen this year helped by US arms dealt to Saudi Arabia & UAE. The US is complicit in far more terror than it has ever suffered."

Northwestern president Morton Schapiro, who is Jewish, and then-provost Jonathan Holloway called the tweet "disgraceful" but did not respond to a request for comment about the professors' anti-Israel missive.

Professor Khaled Hroub has minimized Hamas’s attacks on Israel in the past as "occasional rockets hitting Israeli cities." Hroub trivialized the dangers posed by Hamas’s tunnels into Israel, referring to them as "Hamas’s niggling tunnels." In a 2006 trial of a Chicago businessman accused of aiding Hamas, Hroub was repeatedly asked if Hamas is a terrorist organization, and he said it would be a "simplification" to categorize it as one.

Hroub argued at the time that Palestinian suicide terrorism is equivalent to Israel bombing refugee camps. "What is the difference between this guy who blows himself up on a bus and the Israeli bombs dropped on a refugee camp in Gaza?" Hroub asked. "The end result is the same—killing civilians."

Other Northwestern faculty members have gotten away with anti-Semitic and anti-Israel comments. Arthur Butz, an engineering professor who called the Holocaust a hoax, remains on the university's faculty. In his book, The Hoax of the Twentieth Century: The Case Against the Presumed Extinction of European Jewry, Butz argued there is a lack of evidence for the systematic murder of Jews during World War II, the Free Beacon reported in December.

Qatar has recently come under fire for using forced labor to construct a soccer stadium ahead of the 2022 World Cup. Human Rights Watch detailed policies of "abuse, exploitation, and forced labor practices" toward migrant workers in Qatar and said "passport confiscations, high recruitment fees, and deceptive recruitment practices remain largely unpunished." The organization said "workers are banned from joining trade unions or striking."

Human-rights groups have alleged that Qatar has kept Southeast Asian migrant workers trapped in appalling conditions while they work for little or no pay. The Northwestern letter, which expressed the professors’ commitment to fighting "anti-Asian racism," did not mention Qatar’s use of forced migrant labor.

Northwestern's diversity office, which issued a February statement of "Solidarity with Asian and Asian American Communities," did not respond to a request for comment about whether its solidarity extends to Asian slaves in Qatar.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) told the Free Beacon that the Northwestern letter shows why the United States should tax the endowments of wealthy universities.

"Colleges use billion-dollar endowments to fund political agendas and brainwash students," Cotton said. Last week, the senator introduced a bill that would tax university endowments and repurpose billions of dollars to fund apprenticeships across the country.

The Northwestern letter comes amid days of intense conflict between Israel and terrorists in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian militants fired thousands of rockets into Israel over the past few days, killing at least 10 Israelis.