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Oberlin College Under Federal Investigation Over Professor’s Antisemitic Rhetoric

One of the country’s most liberal colleges is being investigated over allegations it allowed antisemitism to breed on campus including having a professor of peace studies who has called for the elimination of Israel and the death of Salman Rushdie.

Oberlin College in Ohio could lose chunks of the millions in annual federal funding as a result of the probe, whose existence it has not yet disclosed to students, alumni and donors. Last year, the school took in more than $5 million in federal grants.

The private liberal arts college is being investigated for possible breaches of Title VI by in Ohio by the federal Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. The title protects students from being harassed and discriminated against because of their religion.

The probe, which was opened on September 29, was prompted by a complaint filed in 2019 by Oberlin College graduate Melissa Landa, who founded the Alliance for Israel to counter the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign targeting Israel and hostility toward Jewish students at the school. Landa, who graduated from Oberlin in 1986, is president of the Oberlin Chapter of Alums for Campus Fairness, a non-profit that works to end antisemitism.

She sent the department a dossier of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel incidents between 2014 and 2017— and four years later, it finally acted.

The dossier focuses on tenured peace studies and religion professor Mohammad Jafar Mahallati, who has called himself “professor of peace” but who is accused of supporting Hamas and giving students credit for writing anti-Israel blogs.

It alleges Mahallati told his classes in 2016 that “Israel is a colonialist state” and “Israel is an apartheid state.”

Mahallati, 71, has also taught at Columbia, Georgetown and Princeton. Before becoming an Oberlin professor, he was Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations where he was accused of defending the fatwa, or Islamic decree, issued by Khomeini to murder novelist Salman Rushdie.

“I think all Islamic countries agree with Iran,” he told Reuters in 1989, Fox News reported. All Islamic nations and countries agree with Iran that any blasphemous statement against sacred figures should be condemned.”

Rushdie lived under the threat of murder since 1989 and in 2022 he was stabbed repeatedly as he spoke at an event in Chautauqua, in upstate New York, losing an eye.

His accused attacker, Hadi Matar, who is charged with attempted murder, had been a supporter of the Iranian regime on social media.

The Oberlin professor has also been accused of helping the Iranian government cover up the massacre of thousands of jailed political opponents in 1988, according to a February report by Amnesty International by calling the murders “misinformation” and “political propaganda” at the UN.

While working as a diplomat for Iran, he claimed it was “a religious obligation” for Muslims to “liberate” Palestine from “Zionist usurpers.”

Students boycotted Mahallati’s classes, which were canceled in the spring. A spokeswoman for Oberlin told The Post Tuesday that Mahallati was on “sabbatical” this semester.

The antisemitism complaint also accuses Oberlin of failing to keep Jewish students safe.

It details how, in the fall of 2014, members of a campus group Students for a Free Palestine placed more than 2,000 black flags outside of a venue where Jewish students were holding Rosh Hashanah services.

The flags were meant to imply that Oberlin’s Jewish population were responsible for events in Israel, Landa alleged in her complaint.

A banner that accompanied the flags referred to Israel’s actions in the 2014 Gaza War as “murder,” according to the complaint.

A year later the student group posted on social media: “You’re NOT taking a ‘neutral stance’ by refusing to endorse divestment. You’re saying you don’t mind that yr tuition funds murder, torture.”

Oberlin did not respond to requests for comment by deadline. Mahallati did not return an email seeking comment Wednesday.

In New York, the state Division of Human Rights has opened an investigation into whether CUNY’s School of Law discriminated against Jews when its faculty council passed a resolution last year supporting the pro-Palestinian BDS movement against Israel.

Source: https://www.meforum.org/campus-watch/65145/oberlin-college-faces-federal-antisemitism-probe