Harvard Donation Questioned

Rachel xxxx, suing Harvard for taking money from Arab Emirates president AP

There are few places where religious tolerance is taken more seriously than Harvard's Divinity School.

But graduate student Rachel Fish says the school has so offended her both as a Jew and as an American, she's now taking on Harvard's top brass and a world leader: the President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheik Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who gave Harvard $2.5 million to fund a chair of Islamic studies.

The problem: it's not the only thing founded in his name.

The Zayed Center for Coordination and Follow-Up, which is also named for the sheik has hosted speakers from Jimmy Carter to Neil Bush, the president's own brother.

CBS News Correspondent Lee Cowan reports that when Fish dug deeper she discovered the center has also hosted some of the most hate-filled speakers imaginable.

An independent review of the Zayed Center found it offered programs such as "Zionist Collusion With the Nazis," and "Jewish Control of the American Government and Media." And its executive director began a symposium at the center, by calling Jews "the enemies of all nations."

When asked how she links what is being said at the center and on its Web site with the sheik himself, Fish says, "Because it's all being said in his vision."

Nobody disputes the fact the center has willingly granted a platform to those espousing anti-Semitism, even anti-Americanism. But what Harvard must now confront is just how much, if at all, the sheik's contribution is tainted by the actions of a center that bears his name.

"That's wrong, that smacks of a witch hunt," says James Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute.

Zogby says the center does bear the sheik's name, but so do a lot of things in his country. Zogby believes the sheik did not know about it.

"There is no relationship between Sheik Zayed and the center," says Zogby.

"He knows who's there," says Fish. "There's no way he does not know."

Harvard refused our request for an on-camera interview, but in a statement, called some of the center's activities "repugnant and indefensible." It said it is "carefully investigating" any links with Sheik Zayed.

But that's not enough for Fish.

"I'm hoping that the institution will resolve the issue, the money will be given back, and I will be able to graduate and celebrate like all of my peers and colleagues."

And if not?

"We will see," said Fish.

After two years of hard work she may refuse her diploma. After all, she says, Harvard is an institution whose motto is truth.

  • Jaime Holguin

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