Widgets Magazine

Professor comes under fire for alleged anti-Iranian e-mail

The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) has called for a Stanford professor to be disciplined for making what the organization calls “racially discriminatory and inflammatory” remarks about Iranians.

The council targeted computer science professor emeritus Jeffery D. Ullman in a recent letter to University President John Hennessy.

(ANASTASIA YEE/The Stanford Daily)

The Jan. 4 letter refers to an incident when, according to the organization, a graduate student from Sharif University in Iran e-mailed Ullman asking about admission into the graduate computer science program at Stanford. In an e-mail, Ullman responded by directing the student to a page on his University-hosted website, which explained that the selection process for graduate school was in the hands of a committee of graduate students and faculty members, and that he could not and would not influence them.

Ullman went on to say that even if he were in a position to help, he would not do so until Iran recognizes Israel’s right to exist, adding that “if Iranians want the benefits of Stanford and other institutions in the U.S., they have to respect the values we hold in the U.S., including freedom of religion and respect for human rights.”

The NIAC letter claims these remarks unfairly discriminate against Iranian students and says that Ullman is “holding the aspirations of young Iranians hostage to the policies of their government.” The organization urged Hennessy to condemn the remarks, take disciplinary action against Ullman, and clarify Stanford’s position on the issue of Iranian-American students.

But Stanford affirms that Ullman is not involved in admission and is free to express controversial opinions.

“This faculty member was expressing his own personal views and not the views of the University,” said University spokeswoman Lisa Lapin. “He has no involvement in admission, and Stanford doesn’t discriminate in their admission process.” She said there is no plan to discipline Ullman for his statements, adding that Stanford has many professors who hold controversial opinions.

Ullman expressed surprise at the University’s reaction to the event. Four days after receiving the letter, no person from the president’s office had contacted Ullman regarding the incident, he said.

“I’d really appreciate more support from the University on this,” he said. “Not that they’ve said anything negative, but I’m surprised they haven’t lined up and recognized this as an attempt to censor a faculty member.”

Ullman defended the wording of his e-mail, saying, “If someone contacts me personally with a request, I don’t mind giving them some of my opinion. When I say, ‘I will not help you,’ I don’t mean if you are admitted to Stanford I won’t advise you. It simply means I would not give them special attention in preference to someone else.”

Asked why he chose to elaborate on the student’s country of origin in his e-mail, Ullman said he was trying to teach this student a version of history he may not have heard.

“There’s a war going on in this world between Iran and Israel and other countries,” he said. “I don’t believe an Iranian student, however bright they may be, is going to get a true picture of the issue. I was just trying to show him the Israeli side of the story.”

About Brendan O'Byrne

Brendan is a senior staff writer at The Stanford Daily. Previously he was the executive editor, the deputy editor, a news desk editor and a writer for the news section. He's a history major originally from New Orleans.
  • Kurosh

    This is a clear sign of desperation! You have no way of defending this lunacy that is why you are bringing Arabs and Muslims in to this!!
    This is about racial discrimination not a religious one. As a Zoroastrian Persian I very happy that, Cyrus the great kind of Persia and liberator of the Jews did not share the same opinion as Dr.Ullman otherwise you guys would not be here today to defend discrimination again the children of Cyrus the great?
    Imagine that Instead of Cyrus’s famous speech in Babylon, when he call for the liberation of the Jewish slaves he said this: “I am sorry I cannot help you people, I know that you may not hold the same insane position as the Babylonian Dictator that(mullahs) that run your country, but it is a matter of principle!”
    I am happy that he did not say that!
    I am happy that when Albert Einstein wanted to escape Germany to Princeton he did not receive a response like this: “I am sorry I cannot help you, I know that you may not hold the same insane position
    as the Third Reich that (mullahs) that run your country, but it is a matter of principle!”
    Imagine if the Iraqis received a response like this from the UN refugee camps!!
    This is a long list should I keep going?

  • Smita

    The validity of Ullman’s claims are really secondary here. The real issue is that he is holding a student who wants to come here to learn non-political things responsible for his government’s actions. He had no reason to believe that the student was a fervent Ahmadinejad supporter (as an educated Iranian youth he likely doesn’t anyway) and yet cut him off on the basis of his national origin. By definition, discrimination.
    It’s like if during the Bush years a country like France or Canada, who both officially condemned the Iraq war, were to refuse American students on the grounds that the nation was in a controversial war.

  • Sorry for the huge review, but I’m really loving the new Zune, and hope this, as well as the excellent reviews some other people have written, will help you decide if it’s the right choice for you.

  • Kurosh’s Alter Ego

    We can stick to Persians if that’s your wont.




  • Alter Ego’s yet other Ego

    Loved it how you changed the subject again, specially by citing the “data” generated in websites funded by people like yourself.

    Do you think it is hard at all to find strange jurisprudence from the old testament and make fun of them here? Do you really dare us to go and bring the instruction of “killing your child” from there and put it here? But so what?

    You don’t see the Iranians and generally the critiques of Mr Ullman doing nasty stuff like you do, because they are decent and clear in the point they are making.

    I promise you that Dr Ullman’s case will be followed by NIAC and other institutions to expose more and more about how Dr Ullman and his supporters like you are abusing their power in America for the interests of THE only apartheid occupying regime of the 21st century.

  • john

    What happened to the first 50 comments? Does the website only allow for a maximum of 50 comments to be shown and then deletes them, or is my computer the problem?

    Anyway, after thinking about it, I do believe the criticism of Mr. Ullman is genuine and honest. I don’t agree with it but the Iranian posters seem to be fair-minded.

  • re John

    Dear John,

    to see the previous comments click on “Older Comments” just above the “Leave a Reply” icon.
    (You can also use Control+F to search for the words in the page.)

  • ArRa

    Thanks for noticing that. The truth shall ultimately prevail. There are those that first pick a side then look for arguments for it, and those who stick to the truth even if it goes against their ties.

  • 3rd Alter Ego

    2nd Alter Ego writes, “about how Dr Ullman and his supporters like you are abusing their power in America for the interests of THE only apartheid occupying regime of the 21st century.”

    You’re right. Saudi Arabia is not an apartheid regime because it long ago eliminated ALL non-Muslims.

    Israel, on the other hand, is experiencing rapid growth of its Muslim population so it must be an apartheid regime. This and the fact that Muslims serve in Israel’s parliment and on its Supreme Court.

    Americans are wising up to the lies of Muslims and Muslim apologists. The facts simply do not support your slanderous claims.

  • RH

    Besides discrimination, there is another issue. Take the statement by Mr Ullman taken from “Answers to All Questions Iranian. Mr Ullman says he does not hate Iranians and goes on to say “But the people are just fine, when allowed to participate in a free society.”. In my opinion this is hate speech. He is implying the 70+ million who live in a Iran are not fine as they live in a society which I assume he feels is not “free”. Take statement which in my opinion are similar, and all constitute hate speech.

    “I don’t hate Africans: they are fine as long as they live in Western style democratic societies.”
    “I don’t hate Chinese: they are fine as long as they live in free societies.”

    Doesn’t Stanford have a policy against using Stanford computers for hate speech?

  • Rh–For You

    I don’t hate all Muslims, nor do I think most Muslims wicked, but I do detest Islam through and through and consider all Muslims confused human beings. I have a right to think and say this in America because freedom exists here, which it doesn’t wherever Islam is the majority religion of a nation, ony the degree of a dearth of freedom being the variable from one Islamic country to another.
    And as I have said many times here at JW, Islam will always remain a death cult for a certain percentage of its followers when they don’t get their way. About no other major faith can this be said.
    Finally, Mohammed is one of the most despicable figures I have ever come across in history respecting the capacity of one person for malevolently influencing future history. Hitler and Marx are way up there too on the list. That’s the kind of company I put Mohammed with. And you should see the eyes open when I narrate Mohammed’s bloody and sexually perverted record to one who still knows very little about Mohammed. For anyone who has retained their common sense and moral intelligence, the more one knows about Islam and Mohammed the more that person is going to be disgusted by Islam and Mohammed. Count on it.

  • ArRa

    Here we go again and this very straightforward issue of Ullman being discriminatory is used as a pulpit to voice your opinions about Islam and Muslims. [As a side note I have to say this: I highly respect Mohammad, find his religion the beginning of something wonderful that happened in history: do read about “the Islamic Golden Age” (say in wikipedia if you’re not too serious to pick up a history book) where the Muslims became the world leaders in sciences, technology, philosophy, literature, economics, and many more, and how they contributed to the West’s awakening from the middle-ages (why they stopped is a whole different discussion), or actually go ahead and ignore most or all of history, forget that the Jews have been most harshly and ruthlessly persecuted by the West so much so that they’d seek refuge in Muslim-ruled lands [my Jewish ancestors immigrated to south of Iran because of this!], or killed by the millions by Westerners as in the second world war, and go ahead and define your perspective of anything by the daily news only, hand-picked pieces of history, and contribute to the ever-expanding “Us vs. Them” effect]. Nonetheless, I really don’t find this the place to talk about this. This is a common approach taken by the like of you: I am biased against people from the middle-east (except for the Jews) and let me put them all in one group, bash the religion followed by many of them, and feel good about all this. Every discussion has its place, and if you are serious about any discussion, you should know that.

  • RH

    Dear “RH — For you says”. You do have a right to say what you just said, which I consider to be hate speech (e.g. “all Muslims are confused human beings”). However, as a Stanford professor, should you be allowed to post that (or a permutation of what you just said replacing Muslims with some other ethnic, religious or generally protected class) on a Stanford computer? Many universities do have a policy regarding hate speech. I do find guidelines regarding sexual harassment (see http://harass.stanford.edu/).

  • ArRa

    You must think we believe in Santa Claus too.

    Is the following the Mohammed you “highly respect”?


    Do please correct any of the facts in this link. I am here to learn.

  • Tom

    Accepting Isreal as a Jewish state, not admitting students who don’t accept, they look like American values to me, freedom of religion I guess?

    Wow! Jewish Rep. of Israel vs Islamic Rep. of Iran vs Arab dictatorships. What a fight, I bet 20 bucks on Israel, anyone?

  • RH

    To “crazyislam.typepad.com”. I did visit your web site, and learned something today: a service you provide is “sending death threats” to people: it was listed on the left hand side of your front page.

    Just to be clear, you are in support of Mr Ullman and believe he was correct, right?

  • SAS

    Stanford University should do the right thing and fire Ullman without delay. An openly supremacist professor who promotes racial discrimination as one of the grounds for accepting students and even glosses over outrages such as the US deposing Iran’s democratically elected government and shooting down an Iranian civilian jetliner should have NO PLACE in an academic facility.

  • To Fake ArRa from Real ArRa

    Repeatedly we are seeing in this thread that very straightforward points are being thrown off to a different direction and rejected, let alone more complicated ones about history, religion, etc. etc. He who looks for the truth shall find it. No, you are not hear to learn. Peace.

  • Fake ArRa

    He who looks for the truth shall find it.

    You’re right!

    Here it is:


    (click on tabs near top –like the “issues” tab — to learn more of the truth.)

  • Mecca Man

    SAS writes, “…who promotes racial discrimination…”

    SAS, FYI, Islam is not a race. It’s a theocratic, fascistic thought-control cult that has lasted 1,400 years.

    SAS then writes, “..glosses over outrages such as the US deposing Iran’s democratically elected government…”

    ROFLOL! You’re an extremely funny guy!

    Democratically elected! That’s a laugh riot! Tell me you thought that up all by yourself!!!

  • Mohammad Khaneghahi

    Yes, all free people have right to express their point of view in a free country, so did Hitler! But a university professor has no right to express hatred or personal view that might be prefediced against others. Actually no person in position of power has such a right to discriminate. A professor’s main job is not to teach certain subjects, rather to open minds, it seems to me this professor himself is a closed minded person. Does Iran have a democracy? Are Iranian people able to change the views of their governemnt? America is and has been a democracy since 1776, why then it goes and destroys a democtaticly elected govenment of late Dr.Mohammad Mossadgh, and brings about all the present mess? Do not American people and governemnt owe an apology to people of Iran for destrying its democracy in 1953 and supporting an inefficient Shah for 25 years? Then now you expect us to have an American style democracy? That professor’s point of view and thinking should be reviewed if he is qualified to be a professor or former one!

  • Babak

    Imagine if the professor was an Iranian-American, heck drop the Iranian and just say American and the student was from Israel and the professor responded to a inquiry letter as follows:
    Because you are from the apartheid state of Israel, I will not consider your application! Or because according to Judge Goldstone Israel has committed war crimes, I will refuse to help you in any way I can. You can be sure that professor would not last on his job very long. But here is an obvious double standard here. Because Iranians are demonized and are guilty by association, bullying them as this professor does is OK. After all, what power does an Iranian student have, in his own country? And why should Ullman show an Iranian student any more humanity than granted to him/her by the regime in Iran?
    I suggest, we should not pursue this. Ullman, is much too powerful than an Iranian student, who gets beaten and abused in his own country. Of course a great institution of higher learning should be more concerned about well connected and influential Dr.Ullman, than the abuse he subjects a student to. Indeed, NIAC should retract their objection. Before they know it, Ullman will accuse them of anti-Semetism.

  • Mohammed’s Ghost

    So we wrecked Iran’s democracy, eh?

    Could you explain for us why there is nothing resembling a real demcoracy in any of the Muslim dominated countries? Is that ALL our fault too?

    Christ said, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and unto God that which is God’s.”

    Mohammed said (more or less), “Everything is mine, mine mine!” Mohammed had countless sex slaves, 10+ wives, ruled his empire with an iron fist that was as cruel and intolerant as that of any modern day Arab theocrat. Yet Iran’s failure as a democracy is our fault?

    You have got to be kidding.

  • The Real Mohammed

    The following information about the sadistic, inhumane, pedophile Mohammed comes from original Islamic texts (Koran and hadiths as well as the earliest Islamic historians).


  • Ariel Goldberg

    I agree with Dr. Ullman’s claim that the more advanced technological nations takes over the weak ones. Look at Mexico in 1848, we purchased their land (Texas, New Mexico, and California) for $15 Million; they sold it to us did they not? of course they were forced to sell because they were weak and poor. Now, do we have to return their land (CA, TX, NM) to them, because they were there first? Hell no!
    I think President Truman’s visit to Mexico City in 1947 and reading the “doctrines of non-intervention” saying, “A strong nation does not have the right to impose its will by reason of its strength upon a weaker nation”, is pure B.S. in practice; although sounding democracy and freedom for free nations.

  • ArRa

    My last post here ever: you blind men have repeatedly diverted a straightforward discussion to offending nations and their prophets and faiths. You will one day see how profane and thoughtless you were, and how you traded the opportunity to be descent with insulting great men.

  • Just a Regular Guy

    ArRa wrote, “You will one day see how profane and thoughtless you were, and how you traded the opportunity to be descent with insulting great men.”

    Are you saying we’re descending to the level of Mohammed? If so I do object most vehemently! I may be a mediocre person, but I am no pediophile, murdering rapist.

  • Mohammad Khaneghahi

    To be honest with you, I do not consider US a real democracy to begin with! Israel has way too much influence on US foreign policy.Why is that Israel is US’s biggest ally here? What Israel gives to US that deserves this much cost? Do not Arab countries provide all the oil US and its allies needs?
    Should not Iran with 75 million people and second largest gas reserve and third or fourth largest oil reserve be US’s biggest ally? Did not a US president once said ” the business of America is Business” ?
    Cannot Iran or Arab countries provide more business for US then Israel? If US can get along with athesit China, why it cannot get along with Iran?
    Why Iran cannot have atomic bomb? Yes, the bomb not the nuclear energy! US got the bomb because it did not want its boys to be killed by Japanese. USSR got it because US had it, China got it because USSR had it, India got it because China had it, pakistan got it because, India had it. Israel got it because there were way too Arabs and without the bomb or Western help could not defend itself. Now somebody tell me why England or Frence got it? Are not they close ally of US or member of NATO? Iran got to have the bomb because US or neocons want a regime change here!!!! It is none of US business to have a regime change in iran. Just look at Tuisia, they got what they wanted without any foreign help.
    Iran having the real bomb is no threat to any of its neighbors. Even without the bomb Iran can defend or attack its neighbors. It is stupid to think that if Iran had the bomb will attack Israel. Besides Iranians have not attacked any one in more than 300 years! Can US or any other so called democratic country can make such a claim? The bomb, if there is such a thing, is only to stop regime change by foreginers! The big bomb could not be any help to USSR the greatest atomic power, so why is it so important that Iran should not have one? Iran’s domestic problem is its own problem not anyone who does not live here.
    By the way too much was said about that bum, AliReza Pahlavi’s suicide in Boston (Shah’s youngest son), he was of weak character as his father or sister were. Only cowards and weak people do such a thing. Some one said he killed himself like a general! Was he a japanese general who could not accept defeat? He called Caspian Sea in Persian, Sea of Khazar, and he was studying Iranian history for like ten years in harvard! The Persian name of the world’s greatest sea is the Sea of Mazandaran, and Khazar people were not persians and attacked us many times.

  • Mo’s True Colors


    I know you come from a religous background where moral values are akin to Nazi values, so I’ll be patient and understanding. Please read the following article and it might help you understand there are more to international connections than a barrel of oil in exchange for undying love.


    Also, Mo, given your ability to reason –as shown in your post above — I suggest you also read the following article and embrace its message. It’s time for you to reach out beyond the stifling restrictions your religion has obviously shackled you with.


  • partied with

    Emeritus Professor Ullman must extend his educational mission about American values to everyone, especially Americans, who are proud that their country welcomes people from all over the world and treats them the same. These same Americans thrill to the idea of Israel being, as the professor says, “a country FOR the Jewish people.” How come? Teach them all, professor.

  • Susan

    Palestine – if it becomes a state will be the world’s 57th Muslim/22nd Arab state. Don’t we have enough dysfunctional Arab and Muslim states already? Israel is smaller than New Jersey. it is the world’s only Jewish State. Bravo to Professor Ullman for sticking up for Israel. Why should Prof Ullman be expected to train an Iranian citizen of the Islamic Republic of Iran (NOT AN IRANIAN AMERICAN citizen!) in a scientific field that will likely be used to help the Iranian government “wipe Israel off the map” as their president is often known to say?

  • Koorosh

    I disagree with Dr. Ullman, Palenstinians were forced to sell their lands as Spanish people in south America were forced to sell their land too (California, Texas, New Mexico,…) under American guns in 1847, in U.S.-Mexican war. History is re-written by the victors.

  • Mohammad Khaneghahi

    Giuliani spoke to 185 donors who have pledged at least $10,000 to the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County’s 2011 campaign.

    Guiliani said the United States must stand up to Iran and make sure Iran is never able to develop nuclear weapons.

    “That job is for America … make clear to Iran we won’t allow you to become a nuclear power,” he said.

    Regarding the war in Afghanistan, Giuliani said the United States must stay in it to win it.

    “Our job in Afghanistan is to destroy the Taliban and Al Queda so they won’t destroy us,” he said.

    WHY? Who gave America such a right? America did not let USSR has boms in Cuba, why Iran should allow US being in its backyard? If US cannot police or control its own borders or cities because of lazziness of its police,should US come and invade any country it wants? Why US cannot live in peace in its own stolen land from native Americans?

  • Bajijune

    Unfortunately, the prof. and his warped opinions are an epidemic and an issue for us all in USA. Who are we and which is our country!!??
    George Washington, one of our country’s founding fathers said in his farewell letter regarding foreign policy; We should never become so infatuated with another nation as to loose focus of our country’s best interests and start making decisions based on our love for another nation. He also said; We should never become consumed by another country’s hatred. Well we are doing precisely the opposite of George Washington’s advice.  We love Israel and hate everyone else who Israel doesn’t like.
    It may be easier and more helpful for the professor and his confusion, if we just changed the name to: United States Of Israel. Then all of this would really not be an issue would it?

  • Opp

    Ullman is a fucking retard, college admissions and computer science have nothing to do with the israeli side of the story.. This is America. He’s probably just a fucking Zionist and listens to zionist propaganda too. If I was the president of the university i would have said something to him. The people in stanford who said there is no intention to discipline him are just biased. He’s acting like all Iranians want to erase Israel of the map. I’m pretty sure there are a lot of Iranians who don’t give a shit about Israel. Yes you can have controversial opinions, but this was just discrimination. What if the admissions do accept him, should they let this Ullman fuck continue to be prejudice?

  • newyork1974

    “Ullman said he was trying to teach this student a version of history he may not have heard.”

    Prof. Ullman displays an astonishing ignorance.  Iranians watch Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, for crying out loud (among other foreign TV they receive).  And I’m surprised that Prof. Ullman doesn’t know that there is widespread opposition to the Iranian government and rule by the mullahs, especially among students and urban youth. 

    Prof. Ullman’s ignorance is embarrassing to Stanford.

  • newyork1974

    Which doesn’t mean, obviously, that Iranian students support the Israeli government’s foreign and military policy.  But then, lots of Israelis don’t either.  Can’t think why.

  • Emily

    Professor’s Ullman’s page on Iranians is embarrassing and retarded! I hated when I first came across it in 2008.

  • FFsd

    such an ignorant letter from a uni professor!

    so he’s taking revenge or something?
    it simply shows that HE himself is ignorant about recent news of Iran and event the most recent history. he doesn’t know that such students inside Iran cannot do anything about Israel – Iran issues?!!!

    some people don’t deserve to be in high positions. the high position gives them an unnecessary arrogance!

    dude! you wanna be racist … be brave and just say it!

  • FFsd

    I just read his page on Iranians!

    so in his opinion, it is OK for a more “advanced” civilization to take over the land of less advanced civilization.
    because Persians did it 2500 years ago.
    and because European immigrants to current US did it with native Americans.
    and also some idiots in Iran took the Americans hostage 35 years ago …
    and …

    whatever happened before, we can repeat it.
    nice digital 0 1 logic professor! well done!

  • peterparker

    To be honest, why a teacher of a country will call those people who will destroy his nation?