A Kent State history professor, who has allegedly been linked to elements of Muslim extremism, reportedly lashed out at a former Israeli diplomat speaking at the university Tuesday night.
The event was co-sponsored by the undergraduate student government and entitled "An Evening with Ishmael Khaldi." Khaldi spoke in regards to his book, A Shepherd's Journey, which details his life journey from a small tent in a Bedouin village to the inner-circles of the Israel Foreign Service. When his speech ended, Khaldi opened the floor to a Q&A, where History Professor Julio Pino rushed to be the first to question Khaldi.
John Milligan of KentWired, an independent student publication,reports that Pino began to question how Khaldi could justify speaking of foreign aid given from Israel to countries like Turkey, when that aid was financed by "blood money that came from the deaths of Palestinian children and babies." Milligan, a senior majoring in magazine journalism, then captured the the most shocking part of the exchange:
"The crowd fell into an awkward silence as the two continued to exchange words from across the auditorium.
'It is not respectful to me here,' Khaldi said.
Pino responded by saying 'your government killed people' and claimed Khaldi was not being respectful to him.
'I do respect you, but you are wrong,' Khaldi said. 'It’s a lie.'
The exchange ended as Pino stormed out of the auditorium shouting 'Death to Israel!'”
While Pino's comments may seem shocking, the professor has been linked to these sentiments before. In 2003 Pino wrote an article that some said was "glorifying a suicide bomber," and in 2009, was reportedly linked "to terrorist activity – such as posting bomb-making instructions on a terrorist website." Pino admitted to colleagues that he had contributed articles to a website entitled "Global War," which describes itself as a "jihadist news service." When the controversy first emerged in 2007, Journalism professor Tim Smith, fellow faculty member at the university which is well known for its progressive history, defended Pino's right to contribute to "Global War." Telling KentWired:
"'Basically, it comes down to the right for people to disagree with government - it's their right to do so,' he said. 'It's embedded in our Constitution.'"
The Blaze reached out to Professor Pino himself for comment in regards to Tuesday's altercation, as well as History Department Chair Dr. Kenneth Binda. There has not yet been a response to those inquiries. Kent State Associate Vice President Thomas Neumann told The Blaze that Tuesday night was not an official university event and that Professor Pino, like any other member of the audience, was protected under the First Amendment to ask any question and state his own personal opinons.
"It was not a university event. He does not speak for the university and we do not speak for him," said Mr.Neumann over the phone Wednesday.
When pressed if the university was concerned if Professor Pino's comments could alienate students, Mr. Neumann said that the university has already given their comment on the matter.
As he was exiting the event Tuesday night, John Milligan told The Blaze that one person in the crowd yelled "Shame on you!" to Professor Pino.
In phone interview Wednesday, Milligan said that he and "pretty much everyone there" were taken aback by Professor Pino's rant.
"I had never even heard of him until researching for this story," said Milligan. "Definitely surprised."
Milligan told The Blaze that even though Pino is a tenured professor, he would be shocked if there were not some sort of repercussions for Pino's comments.
Milligan said that following the speaker, students remained in the auditorium, "admonishing the professor's behavior."
Once student reportedly said, “I get it’s freedom of speech and all that, but that guy just makes us [the university] look bad.”
Kent State College Republicans President Greg Allison wrote via email:
"I am appalled by the comments I witnessed this evening made by professor Pino. It is in the best interest of the University as a whole to have a formal and respectable debate on controversial issues, which does not include inflammatory remarks such as these.
It is with grave concern, that we are employing a professor, Julio Pino, that has endorsed terrorism upon the United States of America, yet receives tenure on our dime!"
Joshua Burton, Chairman of the Ohio College Republican Federation, has urged that Kent State officials investigate the educational practices of "this dangerous professor, to ensure this hateful and violent rhetoric is not being instructed in the courses he teaches.”
Development Director for Hillel at Kent State Char Rapoport Nance, stressed to The Blaze that she was not at the event Tuesday and could not confirm the alleged altercation. However, Nance said of what has been reported; "If there was an outburst or inappropriate comment of that type, it's a bad thing for the university community, students and world at large if we cannot engage in meaningful conversation without outbursts.
"Campuses are suppose to be a place of civil discourse."
Nance told The Blaze that since Tuesday night's event, concerned students have come to the Cohn Jewish Student Center to discuss what happened.
Kent State is a public research university in Kent, Ohio, known for massive student riots in May 1970.
The Jewish civil rights group Shurat HaDin offers a Campus Hotline (718) 907-9258 to report any incidents of anti-Semitism, discrimination, intimidation or harassment on American college or university campuses.
This story was updated with reaction from Kent State Associate Vice President Thomas Neumann, KentWired reporter John Milligan, and Hillel at Kent State Development Director Char Rapoport Nance.