The friends of Sami al-Arian

Robert Spencer has an excellent column on the guilty plea of Sami al-Arian to a charge of “conspiracy to make or receive contributions of funds to or for the benefit of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a Specially Designated Terrorist” organization. Spencer’s column is “Guilty as charged.” Among other things, Spencer usefully recalls the analysis of the winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize for commentary:

In March 2002 he went to bat for Al-Arian, portraying him as a Gandhi behind bars, a victimized absent-minded professor: “The point is not whether one agrees with Professor Al-Arian, a rumpled academic with a salt-and-pepper beard who is harshly critical of Israel (and also of repressive Arab countries) — but who also denounces terrorism, promotes inter-faith services with Jews and Christians, and led students at his Islamic school to a memorial service after 9/11 where they all sang ‘God Bless America.’ No, the larger point is that a university, even a country, becomes sterile when people are too intimidated to say things out of the mainstream.” Al-Arian’s detractors, not his defenders, were the ones who were supposed to be intimidated into silence.

Will Kristof now apologize?

Answer: No. Kristof is of course a regular columnist for the newspaper indicted as a member of the “Israel Lobby” for its allegedly biased anti-Palestinian editorial views in the execrable Mearsheimer/Walt paper. Earlier this week Kristof was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for commentary of the kind quoted above.

Yesterday the Times published Professor Tony Judt’s op-ed column supporting the Mearsheimer/Walt paper without mentioning its indictment of the Times. I wrote about Judt’s column last night in “The silence of the Times.”

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