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Dershowitz rides shotgun for student attacking Palestinian scholar and his wife in California

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Bassam Frangieh is an Arabic scholar and translator who teaches at a California college, Claremont McKenna. I imagine that his life is framed by the Nakba; his family was extirpated from Jaffa in 1948; they owned orange groves; he was born in a refugee camp. In 2006, he had the nerve to attack Israel over the 2006 Lebanon invasion and describe Hizbullah as the national resistance.

Now he is being smeared as pro-terrorist by Charles Johnson, a journalist at Claremont McKenna, who published this attack in the National Review, citing the usual fragmentary statements about Hamas and Hezbollah. It includes this McCarthyite pirouette:

Frangieh’s radicalism is shared by his wife, Aleta Wenger. A former State Department official who worked on the Middle Eastern desk, Ms. Wenger is currently director of Claremont’s Center for Global Education and, as such, is the public face of the college overseas. Like her husband, she takes a conspiratorial view of Israel’s military, accusing it, without evidence, of bombing universities and hospitals.

I’ve been to Gaza. I saw the ruins of the gene sequencing building at the Islamic University and of Al Quds Hospital. It is not clear to me who is pushing back, though apparently the Claremont administration is defending Frangieh on free speech grounds.

Johnson devoted a piece to Frangieh’s wife last month, too. And last night he stated in a letter to Claremont McKenna execs that he is getting help from Alan Dershowitz:

I should add that all of the material that I or The Claremont Independent published regarding Professor Bassam Frangieh has been reviewed by my counsel and by Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School. The primary source material that I and The Claremont Independent published was translated by three different translators at considerable personal expense.

In the same piece Johnson says “nearly the entirety of the Government Department” at Claremont McKenna is on his side. I wonder how many of them know the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict and the role it is now playing in American politics…

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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