NEW YORK (Jul. 11)
The Long Island Jewish World has called on Nassau County District Attorney Dennis Dillon to determine if the State University of New York at Stony Brook violated the Freedom of Information Act when it told the Jewish weekly last February that its files contained “no correspondence or other documents” dealing with proposed gifts to the university by “foreign governments and businesses in the Middle East.”
Five months after university officials denied any such material existed in its files, the Jewish weekly said in its current (July 13) issue, memoranda and other materials were published by the Village Voice in its July 10 issue revealing that the university had initiated talks with Arab representatives on proposals to fund an Islamic studies center on its Long Island campus.
This week Jerome Lippman, publisher of the Long Island Jewish World, whose office is in Great Neck, turned over to Dillon a series of documents that he said confirmed that the university had failed to respond properly to a request it had made on February 24 under the Freedom of Information Act seeking copies of correspondence relating to scholarships or chairs of learning at Stony Brook involving Middle East governments or companies.
On February 29, according to Lippman, Rosemarie Williams Nolan, Stony Brook’s administrator for claims, records and risk management, replied that a check of the files revealed that the university has “no correspondence or other documents relating to such gifts.”
Despite this denial, the newspaper obtained copies of such correspondence and submitted them to the Nassau District Attorney “for possible criminal violations,” the Long Island Jewish World reported.
In its current issue, the Long Island weekly reported that a spokesman for District Attorney Dillon said his office was now researching the law to determine if any statute had been violated as a result of the university’s failure to disclose the documents pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act request.
CONTACTS WITH ISLAMIC FUNDING SOURCES REPORTED
According to the documents turned over to the District Attorney, Stony Brook president John Marburger appointed a Setauket, L.I., resident known to have contacts with the Arab world — Colin Jupp of Setauket — to the advisory council of the university’s center for religious studies in 1981. Last September 1, Jupp wrote to the center’s director describing his “contacts” with “several Islamic funding sources.”
In that report, Jupp said Prince Sultan bin Fahd, son of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, had received “program details” of a university plan to establish an Islamic studies program at Stony Brook — plans contingent on “external funding,” according to a cover memorandum from Robert Neville, dean of humanities and fine arts at the university, to President Marburger to which Mr. Jupp’s report was attached.
Jupp’s memorandum said there were “many” American “corporations doing business in the Moslem world” that “would be happy to contribute in terms and multiples of $100,000 to, say, $500,000″ to such a program. He specifically mentioned the Litton Corporation, which he said had “a $4 billion Saudi contract.”
Jupp also wrote that Sheikh Al Warbel, secretary general of the King Faisal Foundation, would receive a copy of the proposal for the center, and that the endowment committee of Aramco — the consortium of U.S. oil companies operating in Saudi Arabia — “would like to receive a presentation submitted together with an official verification that the program is a valid part” of the university’s activities. “A submission is being drafted for presentation,” Jupp’s memorandum said.
OUTLINE OF A PROPOSAL CITED
Among the documents submitted to the Nassau District Attorney’s office was an 11-page outline of a program in “Islamic religious thought and culture” budgeted at $11,125,000 “to promote the growth of understanding and contacts between our two cultures.” This apparently was the “submission” referred to in Jupp’s memorandum.
University officials said the draft proposal was never sent to any of those contacted by Jupp and the matter is dormant, the Long Island Jewish World reported. But in a memo last week to Professor Joel Rosenthal, president of the faculty senate council, Provost Homer Neal called the establishment of an Islamic studies center “an important element of the university’s academic program.”
Among the “several available Islamic funding sources” listed in Mr. Jupp’s memorandum to the director of the center for religious studies at Stony Brook were the Saudi Arabian Embassy, the Aga Khan Foundation and “the Shias,” although Jupp observed in his memorandum that “there are problems in researching an appropriate liaison with his now divided sect.”