The Corner

Academic Freedom?

Yesterday, the University of Delaware asked Asaf Romirowsky to step down from an academic panel at the University of Delaware because another panelist, University of Delaware political scientist Muqtedar Khan, didn’t want to share the podium with anyone who served in the Israeli Defense Forces. Romirowsky, who holds joint American/Israeli citizenship and lives in Philadelphia, had been invited to join Khan, his colleague in political science, Stuart Kaufman, a staff member of the National Security Council during the Clinton administration, and a graduate student to discuss anti-Americanism in the Middle East. The program was organized by the College Republicans, the College Democrats, and the Students of Western Civilization Club. The Leadership Institute provided the funds for the panel, which met on the University of Delaware campus on Wednesday evening. The students offered Romirowsky the opportunity to come to campus next week and speak alone, with no other panel members who might object to his presence.

If Khan was just an academic, that would be one thing.  But he also straddles the policy world: Khan is a a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a Pentagon consultant.  According to an e-mail he sent to the University, he gave a workshop at the Pentagon yesterday afternoon. 

Academics should embrace intellectual challenge; not flee from it.

Here’s the e-mail from Khan stating his objections to appearing with Romirowsky:

—- Original message —-

Date: Tue, 23 Oct 2007 20:02:29 -0400

From: “Muqtedar Khan”

Subject: Re: Understanding Anti-Americanism Panel

To: [Names redacted]

  Laura, I have to speak at the Pentagon tomorrow. My

  workshop is from 12-4. I hope to catch the 5 pm

  Acela from DC and will be back in town by 7 pm. I 

  will come directly, but may be late. I am also not

  sure how I feel about being on the same panel with

  an Israeli soldier who was stationed in West Bank.

  Some people see IDF as an occupying force in the 

  West Bank. I am not sure that I will be comfortable

  occupying the same space with him. It is not fair to

  spring this surprise on me at the last moment.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations, and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly.

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