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Monday, June 16, 2003

Letter from Columbia/Barnard Hillel Rabbi

Harvard Divinity School accepts $2.5 million from antisemitic think tank

Dear Friends -

As you may have heard, in July 2000, the Harvard Divinity School accepted a $2.5 million gift from Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, the President of the United Arab Emirates, for the creation of an endowed professorship in Islamic Religious Studies. Zayed funds the Zayed Center for Coordination and Follow-Up, a prominent think-tank of the Arab League, based in Abu Dhabi. The Center is described on its website as the "fulfillment of the vision of Sheikh Zayed". It routinely promotes and publishes Holocaust denial literature and Jewish blood libels, as well as publications claiming that the U.S. military was behind the September 11th attacks. The above facts were discovered by Rachel Fish, a Masters' student at Harvard and have been reported in various local and national media, including the Harvard Gazette, Boston Globe, CBS Evening News, NPR's "All Things Considered" and The Jewish Week.

On March 19th, Dean Graham of the Harvard Divinity School met with a student delegation, including Rachel Fish, who requested that the School return the donation to Sheikh Zayed. Dean Graham, who in May 2002 signed a petition calling on Harvard to divest from Israel, promised to research the facts and to get back to the students within 4 to 6 weeks. Unfortunately, the Harvard Administration has so far remained silent on the issue.

An organization was founded -- "Students for an Ethical Divinity School" -- whose website www.moralitynotmoney.com contains an email petition encouraging the return of the donation. We encourage you to take a second, visit the site and its Timeline, and determine if you agree with its content. If that is the case, you might consider signing on.

Charles Sheer
Rabbi
Jewish Chaplain and Director
Hillel at Columbia University and Barnard College
The Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life

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