Global, Identity, Israel, Politics

GW Hillel director brands Palestinian activist a "terrorist"

Upheaval on the GW campus: Fadi Kiblawi, a Palestinian rights activist, is threatening to sue GW’s Hillel chapter after its director Robert Fishman branded Kiblawi a terrorist/terror supporter in an e-mail distributed to the Hillel listserv. An advocate of divestiture and “the one state solution,” Kiblawi has previously been arrested by Israeli security forces for participating in ISM demonstrations within the occupied territories.
In a rebuttal to Fishman’s allegations, Kiblawi (who is also contributes to the Arab group blog KABOBfest), wrote:

The damage that the Hillel e-mail has caused to my reputation and my personal life has been debilitating. However, I am not a vindictive person. I believe that Hillel is an important social and spiritual center for Jewish students on campus. My principal concern at this point is to have my name cleared of the entirety of Hillel’s public allegations, which have now gained much currency on blogs and sites throughout cyberspace. I therefore ask Fishman to send a mass organizational e-mail repudiating his erroneous claims and apologizing immediately. However, if he declines to do so, he has left me with no choice but to pursue other options to exonerate myself – i.e., via legal means.

Some Hillel members have echoed Kiblawi’s concerns, including Will Dempster, senior editor of The Hatchet (GW’s campus paper), who labeled Fishman’s remarks “repugnant.”
I’ve contacted both Fishman and Kiblawi for further comment…
[Update] See, sh*t like this looks pretty ugly (even if the “journalist” is a nutjob). If anything, Kiblawi comes across as a monumental dick whose passion for his cause gets the best of him time and again. However, I don’t know if Fishman’s got any evidence to support his claim that Israel considers Kiblawi a terrorist. Getting arrested for civil disobedience does not make you a terrorist.
Further, Rick Dorfman (whose campus Zionist group is funded by Aish HaTorah and the ZOA) did indeed file a lawsuit against U Mich with the assistance of everso-psychotic Frontpage contributor Debbie Schlussel (who is currently crusading against cleavage). In it he cited an affidavit submitted by one David Herz claiming to have heard conference participants chanting “charad al-yahud.” However apart from his, and one other biased pro-Israel activist’s testimony, there is no evidence to support the charge — or specifically the claim that Kiblawi himself was involved in, let alone led the chanting (a claim which neither Herz or Dorfman make, but Fishman does). Which is not to say the chanting didn’t happen — it may very well have happened. There’s just no solid evidence to prove it and is thus an irresponsible charge to make.
While Kiblawi is mentioned in Dorfman’s lawsuit, it is only for his essay “A Perspective on Palestine while High on Vicodin,” the title of which conveys, if anything, the impression that the contents were expressions of a drug-addled imagination. You wouldn’t read the fantasies of Burroughs in Naked Lunch or Thompson in Fear & Loathing literally. Even if troublingly consistent with Kiblawi’s other statements and behavior, it can not be taken as a serious expression of his desire.
Finally, Kiblawi did cover for USF professor Sami Al-Arian claiming, in a debate with Dorfman on CNN, that Al-Arian had been cleared of any wrongdoing by the FBI. Shortly thereafter Al-Arian was indicted for helping Islamic Jihad orchestrate terror attacks which took the lives of over 100 civilians, including two American students. He was ultimately cleared of those charges (as were his codefendants) and now remains in custody awaiting trial on additional charges that he organized US fundraising operations for Islamic Jihad. This, however, was not actually a crime until 1996, when Islamic Jihad was officially listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, and therefore he cannot be prosecuted for any activities prior to then. Yes, I know better, you know better, we all know better — we’ve seen what Islamic Jihad hath wrought on the Israel. But in a free society, a man is innocent until proven guilty, and Kiblawi cannot be considered a supporter of terrorism for stating the inconvenient fact that Al-Arian is not a convicted terrorist.
Therefore, in essence, all of Fishman’s claims are erroneous. And while that shouldn’t exactly let Kiblawi off the hook, because I get the feeling he’s not the Jew-friendly pascifist he claims to be, Fishman should apologize, and campus Israel activists across North America should take notice. Slander may be effective in marginalizing Israel’s opponents among some audiences, but it can have the opposite effect in others, as it legitimizes claims of Zionist bullying. Fishman’s rallying cry should have focused, not on Kiblawi as a personality, but on divestiture and why it is both discriminatory and diplomatically ineffective. Fight the position, not the person. Do it with humility and grace, calmly and coherently, and you just might win the argument. Otherwise you’re going to be embarassed. And Fishman should feel embarassed right now.

18 thoughts on “GW Hillel director brands Palestinian activist a "terrorist"

  1. Fishman never branded Kiblawi a terrorist. He said “Kiblawi is considered a terrorist by the state of Israel, and has been convicted of crimes in both Israel and the United States.” He’s definitely been arrested by Israel – that’s part of the public record. I don’t know that Fadi has ever been arrested in the US but I recall the 2002 National Palestinian Student Conference on the Palestine Solidarity Movement at the University of Michigan. Kiblawi was head of the U of Michigan ADC (American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee). The conference was notable because while it was ostensibly about divestment, the speakers were nice people with ties to Islamic Jihad and Al Quaeda. Kiblawi himself authored a lovely article for the conference where he stated his wish to “strap a bomb to one’s chest and kill” Jews. He then stated “The enemy is not just overseas, the enemy is also amongst us.” – this appeared in an article titled “A Perspective on Palestine while High on Vicodin,” Al-Risalah, University of Michigan, Spring Edition II, June 24, 2001.
    So, you know, spare me the crap. Kiblawi has made good use of his legal education – he’s mastered the art of double talk. Fishman’s only error (maybe) is in stating that Kiblawi was arrested in the US. But if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck …

  2. Oh I forgot to mention the chants of kill the jews in arabic at the Michigan conference. “Itbach al Yahud!” That was awesome!

  3. The thing about Kiblawi talking about strapping a bomb to his chest might not have been him. It’s possible that someone authored it in his name to damage his reputation.
    This does not mean that Kiblawi is a nice guy. He’s nuts and was a huge troublemaker back when he was in Michigan. It does not surprise me in the least bit that he has gotten himself into trouble again. He is consumed by his contempt for Israel. He is all around bad news.
    I wouldn’t say that he’s necessarily an anti-Semite. Word has it that he had a thing for Jewish girls and that he dated quite a few who were rather hot.

  4. Matt,
    Preferring to shtup a women of the people you hate is hardly proof that you don’t hate them, particularly if you consider them a capable adversary who has the upper hand. I would be interested to hear from these Jewish women how he treated them in their relationship before assuming One Love.

  5. I read the entire Hillel email, which says that he has openly admitted to associating with suicide bombers. Can anybody prove this, or are the commentators correct when they say that the email is libelous. It doesn’t seem like Fadi is the one that’s in trouble here, rather it’s the Hillel. Finally, supporting Palestinian rights does not equate to anti-Semitism.

  6. Supporting Palestinian rights does not equate to anti-Semitism. Thus far, people have been throwing accusations against him without proving or substantiating (kind’ve like this Hillel email). I’m yet to see any evidence of anything claimed in this Hillel email, such as Fadi openly associating with suicide bombers.

  7. So when I first started to read this I was shocked…why? Because I know Fadi. I first met him a little over a year ago at Seeds of Peace in Jerusalem….That’s right, SEEDS OF PEACE. Fadi was chosen to speak to me and my friends because he’s grown up within the organization, spending a lot of time these days volunterring in it’s offices, and with a past as a program participant and camp counselor.
    I’ll never remember how Fadi spoke to my group…he was brutally honest, that’s for sure, and because of that some people in my group got angry…said he should have chosen his words more carefully and shouldn’t be able to make the assumptions he does…but he did, and I felt he was the ONLY honest person I met that trip.
    He’s got a mouth on him , I’ll give him that, but a terrorist he is NOT,

  8. Bart: (hours later) Baby, please! I am not from Havana!
    * Hedley Lamarr: I want rustlers, cutthroats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswagglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass-kickers, shit-kickers and Methodists!
    Taggart: *finally gets a notebook and pen* Can you repeat that again, sir?
    * Lamarr: (interviewing a thug) Qualifications?
    Thug: Rape, murder, arson, and rape.
    Lamarr: You said “rape” twice.
    Thug: I like rape!
    * Lamarr: Chewing gum in line? I hope you brought enough for everybody!
    Thug: I didn’t know there was gonna be so many…
    (Lamarr promptly shoots him dead.)
    Jim (Waco Kid): Boy, is he strict!
    * Jim (Waco Kid): (antagonizing Klansmen) Hey, boys! Look what I got here!
    Bart: Hey, where are the white women at?
    Blazing Saddles 1974 Director Mel Brooks

  9. BTW, kabobfest is definately the best Palestinian advocacy blog going and it is very funny. I would much rather see a dialogue with them than with that boorish fellow at “Jihad of Umar.”

  10. The only problem with kabob, is their overtolerant attitude toward LGF trolls but I suspect it is because they know lgfers actually cause leftist to be disgusted with zionists. I know I used to be more proisrael before they started invading my pet Democratic website, Democratic Underground. Witness all the Rachael Corrie joke spam. Many were openly proBush and they advocated segregation from blacks. I suspect lgf has a high percentage of jdlers. When you consider that leftist think the freedom riders like Goodman Schwerner and Cheney to be heroes, making fun of someone who died protesting doesn’t make a good impression.

  11. Being arrested does not make one a terrorist, engaging in terrorist activity does. Short of that, we should be careful how we fling our epithets. Mostly Hillel’s Israel policy is a disgrace. My own feeling that they should get out of the advocacy business, period.

  12. The al-Risala publication is definitely real, considering I think I still have a copy of it somewhere from when I was at UM. And, it definitely came from him…there is no disputing this. Even he claims that he wrote it….but that of course the thoughts were not his and were only induced by a drug phased experienced. Whatever.
    regarding the dating jewish girls part…that’s definitely true….and from at least 3 of them who I know, they claim he’s…well,… a bit less than adequate.

  13. Yeah, CoA – I was going to point that out to CK as well. Being arrested, whether it’s for chaining yourself to a fence in civil disobedience or for sex trafficking, is not the same as “being considered a terrorist by Israel.”

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