Sharansky urges Oberlin College to fire alleged Iranian ‘war criminal’

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NEW YORK – Renowned international freedom and democracy activist Natan Sharansky on Wednesday urged Ohio’s Oberlin College to fire scandal-victimized religion teacher Mohammad Mahallati over his alleged role in assisting the Islamic Republic of Iran in crimes against humanity as Tehran’s ambassador to the UN.

“According to Amnesty International, in 1988, Mr. Mahallati knew that the Iranian regime was massacring thousands of innocent political prisoners and covering up the facts of the massacre, implicating him in a crime against humanity. Today, thousands of Iranians live in anguish, mourning the loss of their family members, who were mercilessly buried in mass graves, unable to mourn at their graves. Many of these family members contacted President Ambar of Oberlin and demanded a full investigation into Mahallati’s past, but received no response, ”wrote Natan Sharansky, president of the Institute for the Study. of Anti-Semitism and Global Politics (ISGAP), Dr. Charles Asher. Small, executive director of ISGAP, and Haras Rafiq, acting director general of ISGAP and administrator of the UK charity Muslims Against Anti-Semitism.

The joint letter was first obtained by Jerusalem post and addressed to College President Carmen Twillie Ambar and the College Board of Directors. ISGAP is a non-partisan organization dedicated to academic research on anti-Semitism and other forms of racism with an emphasis on education and public policy.

The signatories of the letter wrote that “it is time for Oberlin College to reconsider its defense of Mr. Mahallati and prioritize its students, as well as the victims and survivors of Mr. Mahallati’s crimes. It’s time for Oberlin to remove Mr. Mahallati from his faculty.

The ISGAP letter added that “Oberlin College is an institution with a proud heritage of promoting human rights and social justice and where students value global outreach. Oberlin College now has the opportunity to provide its students with tangible lessons in civic and ethical responsibility, political and historical awareness, and empathy.

Natan Sharansky. (credit: BYHMC)

In a statement to To post in October 2020, Mahallati categorically denied being involved in the 1988 massacre in Iran.

However, Oberlin students, alumni, Iranian-Americans, and legal experts have claimed that Mahallati’s apology is a collection of lies.

Marta Braiterman Tanenbaum, an Oberlin graduate in 1972, told the To post: “How could he not know? I cannot believe that a high diplomatic representative, working for a despotic regime, blithely ignored the mass execution of political prisoners. Oberlin College, where I and 4 of my family attended, has always employed faculty who have recognized and aligned with human rights causes for two centuries, from the rescue of Wellington to Ohio from the time of the anti-Vietnam war to today’s concern for inclusion. “

She added: “I am amazed that our current president of the university has not met the Iranian refugees and families, who raised their concerns to him from the start, and who are now demanding a public protest for a simple answer. The recent blank statement, given by the college, goes against Amnesty International and the testimony of these relatives, whose relatives were thrown into anonymous graves. My alma mater Oberlin wants to stand out as a place of consciousness. This whitewashed statement instead of investigating their own professor, who is accused of covering up such heinous crimes, is the opposite of everything I taught Oberlin: critical thinking, protecting those whose rights were violated and the employment of professors whose close relationships with students convey decent values.

The Oberlin College student newspaper Oberlin Review ran a scathing editorial on November 5 titled “Irrefutable Evidence Against Mahallati” and lambasted the university leadership for its contested defense of the Iranian regime’s former envoy.

The student journalists wrote that “The bottom line of all this is that Oberlin College, an institution we hold dear, employs and defends someone who is likely responsible for covering up crimes against humanity. The College claims it exonerated Mahallati in an internal investigation, but it refuses to disclose details of the investigation, including who the investigating party was, what documents they reviewed and what would constitute a verdict of ” guilty “. The College also refuses to speak with activists and family members who denounce Mahallati’s employment at the College. Many activists say they were blocked by President Carmen Twillie Ambar on Twitter after trying to get her attention to the issue by tagging her.

Oberlin College refused to provide the To post with a copy of his report freeing Mahallati. The Oberlin Review blamed the college leadership for “a blatant omission by several other groups that have been – and continue to be – persecuted in Iran, including leftists, LGBTQ + people and Baha’is.”

According to the student editorial, “Iran was so successful in covering up its crimes against humanity – through spokespersons like Mahallati and many others – that it was able to continue to perpetrate such crimes until nowadays. More blatantly, Mahallati’s rhetoric of the Bahá’ís laid the groundwork for Iran to commit genocide against the Bahá’í community. To this day, Bahá’ís are systematically persecuted, tortured and killed in Iran.

In a direct report on the November 2 protest against Mahallati in college, the Oberlin Review reported that Iranian-American student Sophie Bernstein said: “I think it is very unreasonable that the administration has not saw the organizers of this event and I think that [it] tries to cover up something that is undoubtedly true, adding: “I think it is not correct of him to specifically teach ethics and morals as a teacher here, especially when he has covered mass murders of political activists. I think a lot of Oberlin students here, we take for granted the freedoms we have – for example, to question authority, to question government, to be gay, to be communist, … but our people have been murdered for it.

Student Max Stuart told the Journal he was aware of the charges against Mahallati before starting his freshman year in 2021 at Oberlin. “I hope not only that he will be fired, but that he will be in jail,” Stuart told the newspaper.

The entry of Sharansky, who spent nine years in Soviet prisons for his human rights activism, into Oberlin’s rank raises the bar in a controversy that the university leadership seeks to cover up, according to his critics. Sharansky and his co-authors accused the college of also condoning Mahallati’s genocidal anti-Semitism and incitement to jihadist violence against Jews and Israel.

“It has come to our attention that an Oberlin College faculty member Mohammad Jafar Mahallati has engaged in war crimes and called for a global jihad against the Jews of Israel during his tenure. Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations at the end of the 1980s. We are also aware that Mr. Mahallati has continued his vicious pursuits on the Oberlin campus, attributing anti-Israel readings to his students and asking them to portray the terrorist organization, Hamas, in a positive light, ” noted the letter.

The governments of the United States and the EU have designated Hamas as a terrorist organization.

The Post contacted members of the college board. The only member to respond was Ted Brandt, CEO of Marathon Capital, LLC, who wrote, “Your rating is the first I hear about this issue. I am traveling to the US today / tomorrow, but expect to be briefed on the situation later this week.

Chairman of the Board, Chris Canavan, who is a partner of Lion’s Head Global Partners, declined to respond. To post Media questions to vice chairman of the board, Chesley Maddox-Dorsey, who is the CEO of A Wonder Media Company, went unanswered. President Amber did not respond to a To post to question.

Lawdan Bazargan, the Iranian-American human rights activist who organized the protest against Mahallati in November, told the Post that she sent letters to administrators but they did not respond.

Bazargan, whose brother Bijan was assassinated by the regime for his leftist views in 1988, said: “We want Oberlin College to fire him. [Mahallati] because Amnesty International accused him of crimes against humanity.

An online petition on change.org calling for Mahallati’s dismissal has racked up more than 500 new signatures in the past two weeks, bringing the current signing level to 2,571.

Sam Kermanian, senior advisor to the Iranian-American Jewish Federation, told the Post that “Mahallati is someone who has used his ‘diplomatic’ mantle to lie, deceive and cover up atrocities of a terrorist regime for decades. is the last person we should want to educate our young people.


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