The administration at Oberlin College – President Carmen Twillie Ambar, her chief of staff, David Hertz, and the Dean of the College David Kamitsuka – has offered a united front of stonewalling behind a report on Prof. Mohammad Jafar Mahallati that absolves him of all charges. Oberlin won’t release the report, won’t even tell the media why they are refusing to release it. So far, from the President’s lavish office, there’s been radio silence. “Iran’s ‘Butcher of Oberlin’: Outrage at college for whitewashing prof,” by Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post, October 19, 2021:
“The Post sent press queries to Wargo [head of Oberlin’s media relations], Ambar’s chief of staff David Hertz and David Kamitsuka, dean of Oberlin’s College of Arts and Sciences asking for a copy of the investigation report and its sources, as well as whether the college will permit an independent inquiry into the allegations against Mahallati.
The Post has learned that Kamitsuka has gone to great lengths to insulate Mahallati from the devastating allegation of crimes against humanity [made] against the former Iranian regime envoy, and has refused to respond to the Post query.
Why is Dean Kamitsuka so determined to shield Mahallati from claims that he lied at the U.N.? What’s wrong with providing a copy of the investigation report, together with the sources relied upon to compile it, to the media? Who was And why should Oberlin administrators object to an “independent inquiry” by outsiders into the alleged cover-up by Mahallati? The complete exculpation of Mahallati by internal – i.e,, Oberlin — investigators, is suspect. Those involved seemed most interested in avoiding the embarrassing conclusion that for decades Oberlin has had on its tenured faculty someone who lied about the crimes of the Islamic Republic. But that is not the only charge against Mahallati that should embarrass Oberlin..
In an October 2020 email, Mahallati denied to the Post the allegations that he aided Iran’s regime in its crimes against humanity. However, the Post has reached out to Mahallati a number of times since February to answer queries about his UN speeches opposing Israel’s existence, promoting genocidal antisemitism, encouraging violent jihad against the Jewish state, and denigrating the Baha’i faith. He has refused to answer.
It turns out that Mahallati did more than deny that the Iranian government had engaged in mass executions of political dissidents in 1988. He also gave speeches at the General Assembly, denying Israel’s right to exist, encouraging a violent Jihad against the Jewish state, and “promoting genocidal antisemitism.” Every word he spoke at the General Assembly would have been recorded and can easily be located and reproduced. What will Oberlin do if his hair-raising words of “genocidal antisemitism” come out in the campus media? Or worse still, in the New York Times? What if “60 Minutes” were to look into how the case of Mohammad Jafar Mahallati was handled by Oberlin? Will President Anbar and Dean Kamitsuka change their tune in time, and call for an “independent investigation” into the man who used to be known on campus, because of his interfaith racketeering, as the “Professor of Peace”?
It was not only Jews who were the object of Mahallati’s hatred and contempt..He also attacked the Baha’i, a sect whose members have suffered terribly under the Islamic Republic. Hundreds have been executed or murdered, thousands have been arrested, detained and interrogated, and tens of thousands more have been deprived of jobs, pensions, and educational opportunities. The Bahá’í community’s holy places, cemeteries, and properties have been confiscated, vandalized, or destroyed, and many Bahá’ís have had their homes and other property seized or damaged. And what did the “Professor of Peace” Mahallati say about the Baha’I at the U.N.? He denounced them, denied that they had been persecuted, described them as guilty of immoral behavior, as murderers and terrorists. This can all be found in the U.N. records. Did the Oberlin investigators consult those records or, as with the records of Mahallati’s antisemitic speeches at the U.N., choose to ignore them, or perhaps were so negligent Oberlin never contacted Baha’i faculty or students regarding either the allegations against Mahallati or the subsequent investigation.
The Oberlin Review noted that “the Chair of the Geology Department, Amanda Schmidt, was the Baha’i affiliate with the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life when the accusations were initially made.”
Schmidt reacted by saying that “I was not reached out to by anyone in the administration to follow up on or provide support for the Baha’i students on campus [or] Baha’i faculty and staff members related to these accusations.”
Why not? What did they not want to find out?
Mahallati delivered slashing attacks against the persecuted Baha’i community while he served at the UN.
Melissa Landa, a graduate of Oberlin and founding director of Alliance for Israel, said that “either Oberlin College did not do its homework on Mahallati when it hired him, or it didn’t care about his criminal history. Finding against him in their internal investigation would have meant admitting to one of the two. That wasn’t going to happen.
On a campus that specializes in anti-Israel forms of antisemitism, from the silence of its Hillel director and the abdication of its administration to the relentless attacks of JVP [Jewish Voice for Peace] and SFP [Students for a Free Palestine], Oberlin College was never going to object to Mahallati’s praise for violence against innocent Israelis.”
The US Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights confirmed in an email to Landa in October that it is evaluating her complaint against Oberlin College, alleging the college created an environment hostile for Jewish students and tolerated Mahallati’s glorification of terrorism and pro-BDS activities….
Even worse, he claimed that Mahallati’s ‘record at Oberlin includes no instances of the antisemitic or anti-Israel behavior of which he has been accused.’ That’s a lot like giving war criminals a pass because they didn’t commit any recent war crimes while in hiding,” they wrote.
Mahallati, who sports the title of “Professor of Peace” at Oberlin [because he’s such a relentless proponent of interfaith understanding], defended [at the U.N.] the Islamic Republic’s attacks on US military personnel in 1988. According to a New York Times article, Iran’s regime attacked the American guided-missile cruiser Wainwright, resulting in the death of two US crew members: Capt. Stephen C. Leslie of New Bern, North Carolina, and Capt. Kenneth W. Hill of Thomasville, North Carolina….
It’s not just Iranians in exile, or Jews, or Baha’is, or the parents of present or prospective Oberlin students, but many others, too, who now want to know why President Ambar insists on shielding Professor Mohammad Jafar Mahallati from a serious investigation. Why? Come out of your office, President Ambar, without a media advisor at your side, and explain to all of us why.