Julio Pino
Julio PinoIsrael news photo: CAMERA blog

An American professor who shouted “death to Israel” during an Israeli Bedouin speaker's lecture, defended his statement by saying it was for Allah.

Associate history professor Julio Pino of Kent University in Ohio made the remark after asking a question of Ishmael Khaldi, who was speaking of his experiences working on behalf of Israel as told in his book "A Shepherd's Journey". Khaldi, former deputy consul general at the Israeli consulate in San Francisco and now a deputy minister, describes the book as "one man's story of Israel's culture, society and politics from the perspective of a Bedouin minority in a Jewish state."

Pino stalked out of the lecture hall after he shouted at the guest speaker.

He wrote in a-mail to HigherEd.com, "What I spoke was for the sake of the children of Palestine, and no other reason. The only politics I have are 'There is no God but God, and Mohammed is His Messenger.' "

He rounded out his logic by quoting the Koran, "They try to put out the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah will allow nothing but the perfection of that light, though the disbelievers dislike it."

University president Lester Lefton denounced the “death to Israel’ statement, but no disciplinary action has been announced against Pino, who has a long history of anti-Israel rants.

HigherEd noted, “There is a wide consensus in higher education that it is appropriate for people who oppose the views of various campus speakers to ask them tough questions, to boycott, to picket outside, to invite speakers with alternative views…

“There is less consensus on activities that seek in some way to interrupt a presentation or that involve shouting at a speaker.”

Ten Muslim students at the University of California's Irvine campus were charged and recently convicted for shouting and drowning out a lecture by Michael Oren, Israeli Ambassador to the United States.

They claimed they were exercising freedom of speech in trying to prevent Oren from talking. One of them called him a “war criminal.”

Lefton, Kent’s president, stated that Pino’s treatment of the Bedouin guest was "reprehensible, and an embarrassment to our university." He added, “Calling for the destruction of the state from which our guest comes (as do some of our students, faculty and community members) is a grotesque failure to model these values."

Support for Pino’s freedom to shout inciting remarks was expressed by Cary Nelson, national president of the American Association of University Professors. "Calling out a political slogan during a question period falls well within the speech rights of any member of a university community," he said. "Expressive outbursts do not substitute for rational analysis, but they have long played a role in our national political life.” Not everyone sees a death wish as a political slogan.

Nelson also questioned Lefton for questioning “the moral legitimacy or the right to exist of a guest's home country.”

Pino’s background includes a raid on his home by Secret Service agents after Town Hall’s Mike Adams wrote two years ago that Pino sent out an e-mail that said that President Obama would soon need some more coffins sent to the White House.

Adams also has written that Pino contributed to a terrorist website.

CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, has launched a protest letter writing drive to the university and media to protest the incident.