Bill O’Reilly continued his attack on the University of South Florida Wednesday and Thursday night after saying last week on his nationally broadcast Fox News show that USF has ties to terrorism.
O’Reilly said Wednesday that USF President Judy Genshaft is not being forthcoming and suggested that Gov. Jeb Bush fire Genshaft.
“I have to say, that if I were Gov. Bush, I’d remove President Genshaft from her position at that state-funded institution,” O’Reilly said. “The woman simply will not explain what the heck is going on down there.”
A university spokesman said Genshaft was in St. Petersburg Thursday and unavailable for comment.
Students came to The Oracle Thursday night to share their opinions on the allegations surrounding Sami Al-Arian, a USF computer science and engineering professor who was placed on paid leave after appearing on Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor Sept. 26. Al-Arian brought middle-eastern intellectuals to the United States in the early ’90s to participate in his World Islam Studies Enterprise group that he said was designed to promote dialogue instead of violence between Islam and the West.
One student disagreed with O’Reilly, saying that Genshaft was not the best representation for the university.
“I think maybe Mike might have actually been better,” Steven Brown said, referring to Mike Griffin, student body president, who appeared last Friday night on The O’Reilly Factor when administrators refused to.
Douglas Wilk, a sophomore, said though Griffin did a good job defending the university, he would have liked to see someone from the administration, such as Genshaft, speak on USF’s behalf. He said he disagreed with the president’s decision to put Al-Arian on paid leave.
“The fact that (Al-Arian) had to go defend himself without the school backing him up wasn’t right,” Wilk said. “I don’t think that the best thing to do was to remove him immediately.”
O’Reilly followed Thursday night with guests Debbie Schlussel, a columnist from WorldNetDaily.com who has reported on Al-Arian in the past, and Hussein Ibish, a member of the American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee.
Schlussel said she has no doubt in her mind that Al-Arian is the front-man in America for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a terrorist group run by former USF adjunct professor Ramadan Abdullah Shallah.
“This man has brought men into the United States as terrorists,” Schlussel said.
O’Reilly cited a letter that his show, The O’Reilly Factor, obtained which O’Reilly said clearly implicates Al-Arian as having links to Hamas, a terrorist group closely tied to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
A portion of the full letter, which was written in 1995 and signed by Al-Arian was displayed on screen. In the letter, O’Reilly said Al-Arian is soliciting funds for Hamas.
“The movement’s financial situation is very difficult and it cannnot fulfill its responsibilities toward its martyrs and prisoners … the link with the brothers in Hamas is very good and making steady progress. I call upon you to try to extend true support to the jihad effort in Palestine so that operations such as these can continue …”
Ibish defended Al-Arian, saying that the professor has never been charged with a crime, even though the FBI has been investigating him for 10 years.
“I can’t believe we are back here talking once again about a man who’s never been arrested, who’s never been charged with a crime,” Ibish said. “I mean, get a life Bill, seriously.”
Hussein said that Hamas was a humanitarian organizationThe Oracle obtained a Library of Congress report written by Kenneth Katzman, a specialist in middle eastern affairs, that says Hamas is not a humanitarian organization like Ibish said. The report, “Near Eastern Groups and State Sponsors, 2001” was written the day before the attacks on America on Sept. 10 and details the activities of terrorist organizations.
The report describes Hamas as a Palestinian, Islamist group with a “very high” terrorist activity level. It goes on to say the group claimed responsibility for the June 1 suicide bombing that killed 21 in Tel Aviv. The group also said it is responsible for an Aug. 9 suicide bombing in Jerusalem that killed 18.
Since 1993, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have conducted 80 suicide bombings, killing more than 450 Israelis, the report said.
According to the report, Hamas was formed by “Muslim Brotherhood activists during the early stages of the earlier Palestinian uprising in 1987.”
As for Al-Arian soliciting donations for the group, the report also said, “Many individual donors appear to believe their contributions go to charitable activities for poor Palestinians served by Hamas’ social services network and are not being used for terrorism.”
O’Reilly called the university “ridiculous,” because they allow this man to paid by taxpayer dollars.
“They can’t justify this guy,” O’Reilly said. “He’s sitting in Florida, he’s getting paid by the taxpayers, and he’s got terrorist ties. That’s a big story.”
Ibish called all of O’Reilly’s accusations “innuendo and guilt-by-association.”
“Until you can tell me this man has broken the law. Until you can tell me something he’s done wrong, this is McCarthyism at its worst,” Ibish said.
Back at USF, Wilk said he’s heard enough, and O’Reilly has crossed the line because he is putting the professor’s life in jeopardy.
“O’Reilly is taking it a bit too far,” Wilk said.
“When he involves other people, and it affects their lives, its going too far. It’s not right.”