To see a firsthand example of Islamic fundamentalist anti-Semitism, you need look no further than the University of California, Irvine.
The campus’ Muslim Student Union is nationally infamous for their annual anti-Israel week (which they unsuccessfully christen “Palestine Awareness” week) and for the vitriolic anti-Semitic language of some of their speakers. The MSU is the type of organization proud to invite the soft-core porn-drawing, scholar-wannabe Norman Finkelstein, which it did in 2008.
This past May, the MSU’s anti-Israel week was perhaps more gorged with controversy than ever before. A number of campus groups organized in order to petition the co-sponsors of the week-long carnival of misinformation of the nature of the event they had agreed to co-sponsor. As it turned out, many of these campus groups were unaware of the controversial nature of anti-Israel week, as the MSU delegates who pitched it to them failed to objectively and accurately describe it. As a result of the petition, five co-sponsors reneged their participation. In addition, one of the MSU’s scheduled speakers — Gideon Levy, a Jerusalem Post journalist — also canceled his attendance.
The anti-Israel event this year was dispersed over three weeks rather than one, with the second week serving as the main course. The wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing cast of speakers the MSU invited this year featured Reem Salahi, a National Lawyers Guild delegate; Anna Baltzer , a so-called “renowned” humanitarian voice on the Israeli-Arab conflict who has colored Zionism as a “racist movement”; Cynthia McKinney, a Green Party candidate and former member of Congress who was nearly arrested in 2006 for punching an officer at Capitol Hill; and the coup de grace of every anti-Israel week across the Western U.S., Amir Abdel Malik Ali — an Oakland imam who has repeatedly accused Jews of controlling U.S. media, the economy, and perpetrating 9/11.
Reem Salahi hosted an event during the first week exploring Israeli “war crimes” during the Gaza offensive in the beginning of the year, broken down into six sections designed to systematically refute pro-Israel claims (Israel does not target civilians, Israel alerted Palestinian civilians before airstrikes). Salahi force-fed the audience a warped, hobbled logic to reject these claims (civilians died in Gaza as a result of collateral damage, so Israel is targeting them. Salahi only saw one flyer during her trip to Gaza, so Israel didn’t warn civilians about airstrikes).
Anna Baltzer and Cynthia McKinney gave speeches of no notable interest during the second week, aside from the usual “Israel is a criminal state” and “Israel is unjustly perpetuating a holocaust.” McKinney did recount her experience of attempting to sail to Gaza during Operation Cast Lead and expressed outrage as she said her boat was “rammed” by an Israeli warship — an action she for some reason did not predict before she tried to illegally cross a military naval blockade meant to block weapons smuggling.
Malik Ali, as usual, stole the show with his inflammatory anti-American and thinly veiled anti-Semitic rhetoric. A Muslim radical who glorifies the image of the militant rebel and hails Hamas and Hezbollah as “brothers,” Ali spoke first at a noontime public event in the thick of student traffic and then later at a more private evening event.
The contrast between the two speeches was incredible. Where he at least attempted to conceal his Jew-hate in the daytime with monikers like “Zionist Jew,” Ali let loose with both barrels in the nighttime like some sort of anti-Semitic werewolf. Ali accused the Zionist students on campus of controlling the school’s administration, blamed the Jews for 9/11, and rejected the idea that the situation in Sudan could be a genocide and instead blamed the U.S. for it. Ali also declared that the Jews worship Satan, described world class Jew-hater Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a “pretty good guy,” and named Hamas as “victims of Israeli oppression.” Ali even proudly called Allah a “terrorist.” Most astonishing, though, was his blatant call to the students to engage in violence:
Stand up to the dean … and those policies and unjust rules you [the dean and Zionist students] just made up. … We are moving into a phase of civil disobedience — there’s no other choice except to disobey.
That Ali would have dared to express any of these beliefs at his public speech amidst a throng of students is laughable.
In recent years, it seems the MSU has become less concerned with distribution of fact and more concerned with constructing offensive and misleading displays on the campus. Students this year witnessed an Israeli flag torn, burned, and splashed with red paint drooping from a mock “apartheid wall” covered in incriminating photos of Palestinian victims (often taken out of context) and what is meant to be information on the conflict. A cardboard Israeli tank was introduced as an extension to the wall this year. It sported a picture of Anne Frank wearing a kaffiyeh, suggesting that the Jewish icon of Holocaust suffering would oppose the idea of a Jewish state. A few days after it was put up, however, the picture was covered up (with a kaffiyeh, what else?) and taken down.
Speculation was that the UCI administration had finally put on its big-boy pants and told off the MSU, but an MSU student soon admitted that Anna Baltzer told the organization to remove the photo.
One would assume that the UCI administration would eventually step in and declare that that such behavior is unacceptable and the rhetoric that the MSU’s speakers spew is offensive and risks inciting violence. However, despite petitions and urging by countless groups both on and off campus, the administration has refused to denounce the MSU’s activities as hateful and dangerous. People can only speculate as to why this is. Some believe that the chancellor of the school fears being sued should he single out the MSU for hate speech. Others believe they simply don’t have the chutzpah.
In addition to all the disguised bigotry and half-truths that color the MSU’s anti-Israel week, it now seems they are resorting to underhanded thuggish tactics in order to discredit the opposing perspective. During Malik Ali’s public daytime speech, a number of pro-Israel students set up a booth and walked around holding boards with damning excerpts from the Hamas charter. After the speech, these students were confronted by a group of Muslim students.
“So I hear you guys like killing babies,” a student at the group’s fore said to the group of pro-Israel students, the first statement any of the Muslim students made.
The confrontation quickly dissolved into hostility and almost became physical if not for the students on both sides who attempted to separate the two factions. However, even before the situation degenerated, a female Muslim holding a camera was seen hovering around the group of Muslim students and switching it back and forth between the two groups. When the situation almost became a fight, she rushed to the fore of the Muslim students and held the camera ready to take pictures.
This behavior, coupled with the blatantly childish and irrelevant statement the Muslims chose to greet the Zionist students with, suggests that the entire situation was premeditated in an attempt to goad the pro-Israel students into a fight, which the MSU could then take pictures of and tell their own story about. As despicable as it was, the Zionist students walked away and refused to respond to the taunting.
While criticism of Israel is perfectly legitimate (there is a saying that nobody criticizes Israel more than Israelis), outright damnation of it, fabricating information, and calling students to violence are not activities any school organization should be allowed to exercise.
If not stopped, whether by its own incriminators, school administration, or outside forces, it can lead to some dangerous situations. If you need an example of the dangers of allowing hate speech as free speech, look back to February of this year, when Zionist students at a college in Toronto were chased by an anti-Israel mob and forced to barricade themselves inside the campus’ Hillel office. Their attackers pounded on the glass doors and shouted things like “Die bitch, go back to Israel” and “Die Jew — get the hell off our campus.” The students had to wait for the local police to arrive and safely escort them from the office.
Another incident erupted at University of California, Berkeley last year in November, when members of Students for Justice in Palestine disrupted a Zionist Freedom Alliance concert featuring rapper Kosha Dillz by hanging PLO flags from a balcony directly over the stage. When ZFA member Gabe Weiner attempted to remove the flags, SJP member Husam Zakharia punched him in the head. Zakharia was promptly beaten to the floor by Weiner and Yehuda De Sa. Yehuda told Israel National News: “Several other members of SJP, including female students, attempted to attack Weiner and De Sa but when three more ZFA activists entered the scene, the male members of SJP — who regularly use physical intimidation to silence Zionist students — hid behind female members of their group and refused to step forward and fight.” The school paper published the SJP version of the events, and the administration asked leaders of both groups to meet with each other.
The problem of not only verbal but physical hostility directed at Jewish and Zionist students on college campuses is becoming a bigger problem. It is important to remember the aforementioned incidents when witnessing such blatant anti-Semitism on college campuses and anywhere else. One can only hope that people will recognize it for the inane and bigoted antagonism that it is, and it goes without saying that one certainly cannot afford to allow for this destructive and dangerous mindset within society.
As Winston Churchill said, “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”