Koran inspired and kept alive with each prayer muttered……
This was first published in INN and republished here with the author’s consent.
2006: Dutch University Censors Academic Lecture on Muslim anti-Semitism
Ten years ago, the censure of a lecture at Utrecht University on Muslim anti-Semitism reached the international media.1 The victim of this censorship, Professor Pieter van der Horst, was a leading internationally known academic who taught early Christianity and Judaism at the university. He was also a member of the Royal Dutch Academy, whose members are the Netherlands’ leading scholars.
On 16 June 2006, Van der Horst gave his farewell lecture on the topic of “The Myth of Jewish Cannibalism.”2 In it, he illustrated the history from the more than two millennia old pre-Christian Greek anti-Semitism to the popularity of the anti-Jewish blood libel in the contemporary Arab world. That same day, the Dutch Jewish weekly NIW wrote that the lecture’s text had been severely censured by the university’s rector.3 Van der Horst later confirmed this claim in an article entitled “Tying Down Academic Freedom” in the Wall Street Journal.4
In it, Van der Horst mentioned that as a result of academic pressure he felt forced to delete parts of the lecture. For example, he eliminated the following paragraph: “Much of the (contemporary) Islamic vilification of Jews has its roots in German fascism. Hitler’s Mein Kampf has been on the best-seller lists in many Middle Eastern countries. The sympathy for Nazism goes back to the Führer’s days. Palestinian leader Haj Amin al-Huseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, even closely collaborated with Hitler. He spent the war years in Berlin and visited Auschwitz, a trip that inspired his plans to build a concentration camp in Palestine.”
Before the lecture’s date Van der Horst was called by the university’s Rector Magnificus Willem Hendrik Gispen, to appear before a committee which told him that the university had to protect him from himself. If he did not delete the references to Islamic anti-Semitism he might be threatened by violent Muslim groups. He would also damage the university’s ability to build bridges between Muslims and non-Muslims. To add insult to injury, the committee falsely claimed that the scholarly level of Van der Horst’s lecture was poor.
Van der Horst mentioned that Gispen said to him he had twenty-four hours to decide whether to remove the contested passages, otherwise he would assume his “rectorial responsibility.” Although the specific meaning of this threat was unclear, Van der Horst understood the broad message: Utrecht University strives for political correctness rather than academic truth. Initially intimidated, he deleted the contested text from his lecture.5
When the uncensored text was published it became known that Van der Horst had also referred to the propagation of anti-Semitism in Iran, Syria, and the Palestinian territories. About the latter he wrote: “The crudeness of the anti-Jewish brainwashing one can find there exceeds the worst expectations. In many Palestinian schoolbooks children are taught year after year that it is a holy duty to destroy the Jewish people because Jews, as children of Satan, rebel against God and conspire against humanity and Islam.”6
Van der Horst’s lecture text was already an understatement at the time. It did not even mention that the then President of Iran, the fanatic anti-Semitic hate monger, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, frequently incited to genocide.
The Van der Horst affair and several lies associated with it developed in many directions. Articles and op-eds for and against Gispen and Van der Horst appeared in major Dutch papers. The NRC daily titled an editorial “The Fearful Rector.”7