MIT turns away Dennis Ross but allows Hamas supporter to speak

Dalia Mogahed, who holds the title of ‘antibigotry fellow’ at Boston University, has defended the mass murder and rapes by Hamas on Oct. 7 as ‘lawful resistance.’

By Moshe Phillips, JNS

Recent news concerning speakers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology about Israel and Gaza has not generated attention or headlines outside of the school and its alumni. But these events should have.

MIT has refused to host a talk by former U.S. Middle East envoy Dennis Ross. At the same time, the school has refused to cancel an invite to an outspoken Hamas supporter to campus.

The irony is that since Ross successfully pressured Israel to allow cement into Gaza, which Hamas used to build its terror tunnels, he has done more to endanger Israeli civilians than the Hamas apologist could ever hope to.

MIT president Sally Kornbluth was one of the infamous trio of university presidents who refused to give a straight answer when asked at a congressional hearing in December if calling for genocide against Jews is acceptable on their campuses. Now, Kornbluth’s administration has added insult to injury by inviting Hamas apologist Dalia Mogahed to speak on March 18.

Mogahed, who holds the title of “antibigotry fellow” at Boston University, has defended the mass murder and rapes of Oct. 7 as “lawful resistance” since the residents of Gaza are supposedly “living under occupation” (even though the last Israeli left the Gaza Strip way back in 2005).

Apparently, apologizing for massacring and torturing Jews doesn’t qualify as “bigotry” at Boston U.

A contingent of Jewish alumni responded to the Mogahed invitation by requesting permission to invite Ross to speak at MIT.

The administration refused on the basis that it is “steering clear of politicians, current or past.”

What makes that decision even more hypocritical is that Mogahed herself served as an adviser to former President Barack Obama, just as Ross has been an adviser to Obama and other presidents. Ross has never run for office.

But just because MIT is being hypocritical—and just because it is refusing to invite Ross—does not make Ross some great friend of Israel. In his public talks, Ross offers perfunctory criticism of Hamas. But he also constantly engages in one-sided and unfair criticism of Israel.

For example, in a Jan. 31 talk for the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy, Ross asserted that “West Bank violence [by Arabs] is not disconnected from Israel’s policies in the West Bank.”

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That, of course, is false. Israel’s actions are not the cause of Arab terrorism; they are a response to Arab terrorism.

Ross also claimed in that lecture that the reason Israel was put on trial by the International Court of Justice in The Hague was because of “extreme statements by Israeli politicians.”

False again. The statement that the court cited most prominently in its ruling was made by Israel’s left-wing president, Isaac Herzog, who said that many ordinary Gazans supported the Hamas massacre, which was a reasonable and factual statement.

In that same talk, Ross said that “the Israelis haven’t done everything they could to spare civilians in Gaza.” Another absurdity. Israelis have literally sacrificed the lives of their own soldiers on the ground in order to spare civilians in Gaza.

What makes Ross’s current comments even more outrageous is that he is partly to blame for the ability of Hamas to have carried out the Oct. 7 attack and kidnap hostages in the first place.

How’s that? Dennis Ross was part of the clique of U.S. State Department Arabists who pressured former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to re-admit 400 Hamas leaders whom Rabin deported to Lebanon in 1992. Many of the returnees then went on to commit notorious terrorist attacks.

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Also, it should be recalled that in 2014, Ross admitted—on the op-ed page of The Washington Post—that he pressured Israel to allow Hamas to import concrete.

Ross wrote that Israeli leaders opposed his demand because they feared Hamas would use the cement to build terror tunnels. But Ross insisted the concrete would be used to build houses and because of his pressure, the Israelis gave in. We now know the results of that decision.

So even if the pro-Hamas hypocrites at MIT consider Ross too “pro-Israel” to have him speak on campus, his actual track record included actions that eventually helped Hamas. The Jewish alumni at MIT who invited Ross should find themselves a speaker who does not have such marks of shame on his record.


Moshe Phillips is a commentator on Jewish affairs whose writings appear regularly in the American and Israeli press.