Providing new evidence of the academic Left’s hardened anti-Americanism and sympathy for jihad terror, Khalil Shikaki has been appointed a senior fellow at Brandeis University’s Crown Center for Middle East Studies.
On February 24, 1998, terrorism expert Steven Emerson testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Shikaki ferried “information, messages and even operational materials to his brother Fathi in Damascus, head of Islamic Jihad. When publicly asked however, Khalil always maintained he had no contact with his brother.”
On May 23, 2000, Emerson gave additional information about Khalil Shikaki when testifying about the World & Islam Studies Enterprise before the House Judiciary Committee: “Documents seized by federal agents at the WISE office in November 1995 show that Khalil Shikaki, after his departure from WISE in 1992, contacted his brother Fathi Shikaki through Ramadan Abdullah….In comments made by Khalil Shikaki on December 24, 1989 at the ICP Annual Conference, he proclaimed support for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad as a unifying element of the Islamic resistance in Palestine.”
Nor was Shikaki solely a courier or cheerleader. Evidence of his connection to Palestinian Islamic Jihad came to light at the recent trial of Sami Al-Arian. “The pattern of evidence from the wiretaps introduced at the trial,” said Emerson, “and other material clearly show that Shikaki was intimately not just aware of, but participated in the operations of Islamic Jihad until January 1995, contrary to all of his public denials. He was a pivotal player in the creation of these institutions — the transfer point between the different parties in the Islamic Jihad, and their transfers of monies.”
Morton Klein of the Zionist Organization of America, stated: “The ZOA is appalled that an institution like Brandeis University and its Crown Center for Middle East Studies appointed Khalil Shikaki as a scholar last year. The Crown Center had an obligation to look closely into Shikaki’s background before appointing him….How is it possible that it hires someone with Shikaki’s record?” The ZOA called for donors to end their support of Brandeis if Shikaki’s appointment goes through.
The Crown Center’s Shai Feldman defended the appointment: “None of what I know about Khalil Shikaki is consistent in any way, shape or form with what is alleged. We have to trust U.S. law enforcement, and Khalil has never been charged.” But all the evidence to which Emerson referred stops in January 1995, not long after President Bill Clinton designated Palestinian Islamic Jihad a terrorist organization. It isn’t likely that Shikaki will be charged for associations with the group dating from the period before that designation.
Says Stephen Bernstein, attorney for another Al-Arian associate: “I think that there’s lots of evidence that goes to support that the funds shown in the wiretap were for charitable reasons, and there’s no evidence to support the suspicions or allegations the government claimed.” But if the Ku Klux Klan ran a school, and someone donated money specifically to the school, not for cross-burnings, would that really be exculpatory? Would it not enable the Klan to divert other money to more violent operations, so it would end up being a distinction without a difference?
The fact that Shikaki’s involvement with PIJ apparently predates its designation as a terrorist organization may save him from prosecution, but it should not save him from a clear-headed moral evaluation. In a bombing in Israel in April 1995, Palestinian Islamic Jihad murdered Brandeis alumna Alisa Flatow. Did Shikaki approve of her murder? Does he now? What does Shikaki think of Palestinian Islamic Jihad now? Does he think it is a legitimate group? Or does his distancing himself from his brother indicate that he knows very well what the group stands for, and disapproves? Did anyone at the Crown Center dare ask him such questions during the interview process?
Brandeis should have been ready to answer such questions from a rightly skeptical public. The fact that they were not and are not, and that some have vilified those who still have enough ethical sensibility to protest this appointment, is yet another indication of how severely the liberal academic establishment has come unglued.