The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, fresh from having established itself as a headwater of anti-Israel agitation, is choosing to mark the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks in an astounding way — by hosting Mohammed Khatemi, a former president of Iran, an enemy state levying a terrorist war against America. Mr. Khatemi has been invited to speak on, of all things, "Ethics of Tolerance in the Age of Violence." The title insults the intelligence of all those who would attend. What in the world is a man who presided over the July 9, 1999, crackdown on Tehran University, where hundreds of students were arrested and tortured, doing speaking about "tolerance" at a university?
What a disgusting way for Harvard to mark the fifth anniversary of the outbreak of a war that has claimed thousands of American lives and is still in full tilt. Not that Mr. Khatemi won't feel right at home at the Kennedy School. A professor there who had served as its academic dean, Stephen Walt, co-wrote a paper earlier this year that sounds pretty much like what Mr. Khatemi says. Here's a side-by-side comparison:
• Mr. Khatemi told CNN in January 1998, "The impression of the people of the Middle East and Muslims in general is that certain foreign policy decisions of the United States are in fact made in Tel Aviv, and not in Washington." Mr. Walt wrote, "The bottom line is that AIPAC, which is a de facto agent for a foreign government, has a stranglehold on the U.S. Congress."
• Mr. Khatemi told CNN, "I regret to say that the improper American policy of unbridled support for the aggression of a racist, terrorist regime does not serve the United States interest, nor does it even serve those of the Jewish people." Mr. Walt wrote, "This extraordinary generosity might be understandable if Israel were a vital strategic asset or if there were a compelling moral case for sustained U.S. backing. But neither rationale is convincing."
• Mr. Khatemi told CNN, "Israeli intransigence and the course of the current peace process and its failure to honor its own undertakings has enraged even the United States' allies in the region." Mr. Walt wrote of "the obvious need to rebuild America's image in the Arab and Islamic world."
• Mr. Khatemi has spoken of "the criminal Zionist regime." Mr. Walt said: "the creation of Israel entailed a moral crime against the Palestinian people," and earlier this week, Mr. Walt appeared at the National Press Club in Washington at a forum sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations and cited Human Rights Watch's reports accusing Israel of war crimes in Lebanon. Mr. Walt also cited a review praising his paper that appeared in Foreign Affairs, a journal edited by the vice chairman of Human Rights Watch, James F. Hoge Jr.
• In April 2001, the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Mr. Khatemi as saying, "As a parasite, Zionism is founded on the fallacious concepts of superiority and the transgression of human rights." Mr. Walt wrote, "Israel was explicitly founded as a Jewish state and citizenship is based on the principle of blood kinship."
• Mr. Khatemi, in Japan last week, said the West had nothing to fear from Iran's nuclear program. "We are seeking a peaceful kind of use of nuclear technology," Mr. Khatemi said, according to AFP. Mr. Walt has also written, "Iran's nuclear ambitions do not pose an existential threat to the United States. If Washington could live with a nuclear Soviet Union, a nuclear China, or even a nuclear North Korea, then it can live with a nuclear Iran."
The Kennedy name that sits on Harvard's Kennedy School was tarnished by Ambassador Joseph Kennedy's appeasement of the Nazis, but redeemed by the sacrifice of Kennedy's oldest son, Joseph, and by John F. Kennedy's heroism in the combat of World War II. In that war against fascism, Harvard itself was slow to realize the threat but eventually mobilized. In this war, the danger is the opposite: Harvard's president at the start of the war, Lawrence Summers, recognized the threat, but now that the war is under way, Mr. Summers has been ousted and Harvard is wavering and even inviting an enemy representative to speak on campus.
This tragedy couldn't come at a worse time, for we are at a moment when American needs, above all else, clarity of understanding. The comprehension that America is at war with Islamic fascists is not new. As far back as 1979, Michael Ledeen wrote about the fascistic nature of the clerics bidding for power in Iran; in the adjacent columns, we reprint, from the Wall Street Journal, one of his early, prophetic warnings. President Bush has recently been more consistent in using precise language in naming the enemy for what it is. It may be that Mr. Khatemi will surprise us all and defect while he is at Harvard. If he doesn't, he will have achieved a victory for enemy propagandists — one handed to him by an academy that once knew better.