For years, anti-Israel student organizations like the Muslim Student Union and Students for Justice in Palestine have held an annual “Israel Apartheid Week” on college campuses across the nation. The events draw widespread criticism for their frequent use of hateful rhetoric, incitement to violence, thinly-veiled anti-Semitic speeches, and flagrant distortion of facts and history. For years, this circus sideshow of half-truths and hatred has gone unhindered, with no political pro-Israel or even moderate week to rival it.
That changed last month at the campus of UC Irvine.
From May 19 to 21, a new club on UCI’s campus by the name of Movement for Peace in the Middle East (MPME) lined the main campus road with several displays depicting facts about the Jewish refugees in the Arab world as well as Islamic terrorism targeting Israel and Jews, Nazism in the Arab world, and the connection between the campus Muslim Student Union (MSU) and terror groups like Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Another display explored ways to achieve peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The event followed the MSU’s annual “Israel Apartheid Week” the week before. While the MSU’s week is full of half-truths, opinionated speakers, and often violently hateful rhetoric directed at the state of Israel and “Zionist Jews,” MPME’s displays dealt solely in well-documented, historical facts.
I was on campus at the time of the event. The displays towered over 10 feet and drew a lot of attention from passersby. A booth on the road handed out shirts for the event that read “I AM PRO” on the front and “PRO-ISRAEL, PRO-PALESTINIAN, PRO-PEACE” on the back. Each day, members of the MSU could be seen gathered at one of the displays arguing with pro-Israel students. Offended MSU members consistently made claims like “It’s Islamophobic!” and “You’re only telling one side of the story!”
Oh, irony is bitter.
I had a chance to sit down with the founder of MPME, Isaac Yerushalmi, to talk about the unofficially christened “MPME Week.” Yerushalmi was president of UCI’s Anteaters for Israel for two years in a row and currently serves as the president of MPME. He has achieved near-superstar status in the Zionist and Jewish communities around Irvine (and beyond) for his ingenuity, passion, and strategic mind concerning Israel. Yerushalmi comes off as one of the most moderate and level-headed Zionists you will ever meet.