The Spectacle Blog

Fulbright Blight

By on 6.20.08 | 12:32PM

Eli Lake in the New York Sun writes of a curious omission in the Fulbright application process: screening for terrorists. While certainly not the first concern on anyone's mind when an American submits an application to study celebratory costume in outer Mongolia, it's worth looking into when a few flags come up. Below is just such a "flag":

The three winners of American taxpayer-funded Fulbright grants to study in America â€" Fidaa Abed, Osama Dawoud, and Zohair Abu Shaban â€" have studied or taught at the Islamic University of Gaza. An Israeli newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, reported in 2007 that Islamic U. was one location where a kidnapped Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, was kept after his abduction in 2006. The newspaper also said forces loyal to President Abbas had raided the university in 2007 and found stocks of rifles and rocket launchers.
Israel is refusing to allow these three students from leaving the country on account of this affiliation, and a U.S. congressman is demanding answers as to why the Fulbright program is funding people with "terrorist links" such as this.

With around 19,000 students attending the university, it would surprise me to think that anyone involved with the school has a "terrorist link." I'm a generally hawkish person, but I attended a school with 12,000 and it was pretty hard to know what was going on even then. If these guys are linked to terrorism by Israeli intelligence, I think the university affiliation is a red herring.

Whatever the case, it is surprising to hear that these folks aren't vetted in such a way prior to participating in the Fulbright program. But given the so-far hamfisted approach being suggested, maybe it's better if we don't.

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