The Harvard Arab Weekend (HAW) is due to take place between November 10th and 13th. According to the organisers, HAW will allow participants “to move beyond the current acknowledged reality, beyond the binary concepts of turbulence and stability; peace and war; rise and fall, towards a light of another, better, reality that will be up to our generation to create.”
Although here at APT, we’re not sure what that exactly means, these lofty goals are certainly attracting a powerful collection of speakers to what the White House has reportedly described as “the premier Arab world conference” in North America. From some of the Gulf’s most prominent businessmen to brave humanitarian activists such as Raed Saleh of the White Helmets — HAW is certainly shaping up to be an impressive display of possibilities in the Arab world.
That is, until we look at the keynote speaker, Waleed Fitaihi.
Fitaihi is well-known to many in Boston. He was formerly the treasurer and founder of the Islamic Society of Boston, a mosque linked to the radicalization of a number of violent Islamists, including the Tsarnaev brothers, Tarek Mehanna and Aafia Siddiqui.
In 2000, Fitaihi, writing in a London-based newspaper, described Jews as the “murderers of prophets” and claimed that they would be “scourged” for their “oppression, murder and rape of the worshippers of Allah.” He further claimed that violence against Israelis was a “great thing.”
His bigotries were denounced by the Anti-Defamation League, Boston media and other Muslim activists. But the Islamic Society of Boston choose to keep Fitaihi as a trustee. This was an unsurprising decision from an institution whose other trustees have included the Hitler-supporter and suicide bombing apologist, Yusuf Al Qaradawi.
Now, 16 years later, Fitaihi continues to promote anti-Semitism. On his website, he bemoans putative Islamic inaction during the Bosnian conflict, claiming that, in contrast, were a Jewish child to be killed, “we would see the whole world trembling; the Jews would be able to lay a guilt trip on the whole world, and even hold the world – especially the United Nations – responsible for the death of this child. We would see them working and planning on using this incident, not only to reclaim their right and punish the offender, but also to serve their other interests.”
Fitaihi is not the only problematic speaker at HAW. Other speakers include Khalid Albaih, a Sudanese cartoonist who doesn’t hesitate to promote anti-semitic tropes and conspiracy theories.