Or at least, I thought you did. I was appalled to learn that tonight, Students for Justice in Palestine at Stanford (SJP) and the Arab Students Association at Stanford (ASAS) will host Dr. Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian physician and politician who openly supported 9/11 and others attacks like it.
Only weeks after the 9/11 attacks, Gilbert told a Norwegian newspaper this about 9/11: “If the US government has a legitimate right to bomb and kill civilians in Iraq, also the oppressed have a moral right to attack the United States with the weapons they may create.” Stunned, the reporter asked him to clarify if he supported terror attacks against America. Dr. Gilbert responded, “Terror is a poor weapon, but my answer is yes.” When told that his views would make front-page headlines, Dr. Gilbert continued, “The white world does not understand that it is possible to see such an action in a different perspective.”
Days later, Dr. Gilbert went into damage control mode and apologized for his comments, but this type of extremism comes as no surprise from him. Dr. Gilbert has called for “bloody” revolutions and made numerous false accusations against Israel, including covering up evidence of the terrorist usage of Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital, and he even called for the boycott of Medicins Sans Frontières for not taking political sides. No ordinary doctor, he toldThe Guardian “My camera is my Kalashnikov.”
Has it been so long since 9/11 that we have forgotten the horrors of that day? Over 3,000 people were killed from over 90 countries. Have we forgotten the members of our community who have lost loved ones, whose families have been wrenched apart by 9/11 and other terror attacks against America? Brave firefighters rushed into the burning buildings, only to have them collapse on their heads. Desperate office workers jumped out of windows, falling dozens of stories down to their deaths. Heroic passengers said their last words — “Don’t worry. We’re going to do something,” Tom Burnett told his wife, before he and others brought down Flight 93 in Pennsylvania, likely saving the White House. If we still remember all this, can we not do better, as a community?
As a strong advocate of free speech, I recognize that Dr. Gilbert can say whatever he should like about 9/11, Gaza (the topic of his speech), or anything else. However, Students for Justice in Palestine should know better than to associate themselves with such a man. Students should have the respect for the victims and their families to not endorse a terror supporter and give him the prestige that comes with speaking at an institution like Stanford.
Stanford’s founding grant declares our responsibility to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence in behalf of humanity and civilization.” When SJP hosts Dr. Gilbert tonight, I hope the organizers and audience members think about whether they are exercising an influence on behalf of humanity, on behalf of their country, and on behalf of their peers – many of whom will be just as angry and appalled as I am.