Thursday, May 13, 2010
Day 4 of Hate Week at UC-Irvine
Amir Abdel Malik Ali
Amir Abdel Malik Ali and I sharing a laugh at the expense of Norman Finklestein and William Robinson's speaking styles.
Today, Hate Week at UC-Irvine came to a crashing thud of an end. Today's speaker was firebrand Amir Abdel Malik Ali. I only wish the nice ladies Hedy Epstein and Alison Weir, who spoke earlier this week, had stayed around to hear Ali. It might have given them pause.
I was happy to note that today, we had the largest turnout of community Jewish protesters who came with posters, Israeli and American flags. They were orderly as we expected them to be.
Overheard from one Muslim Student Union guy as the protesters came marching over the bridge and onto campus,
"What the f---?"
Ali, as expected, was quite in contrast to the style of Weir and Epstein as he excoriated Israel and made his usual implications about the coming end of said state. In contrast to the ridiculous statements of the Great Independent Scholar with a PHD from Princeton (Norman "don't call me Norm") Finklestein, who told us that every Arab and Palestinian entity wanted to reach a peace deal with Israel, Ali took a different tone, as expected. Ali is not interested in peace.
In addition, Ali went off on his customary rant about prominent American figures whom he identifies as "Zionist Jews".
"Alan Greenspan-Zionist Jew!"
"Timothy Geithner-Zionist Jew!"
"Larry Summers- Zionist Jew!"
Thank you, Mr Ali.
In the Q&A, I complemented Ali by saying that after having to listen to William Robinson and Norman Finklestein, he was a "breath of fresh air", which he knew was a left-handed compliment. I told him that we had heard Epstein and Weir, both nice ladies with a passion for the Palestinian cause; we then heard "that great independent scholar with a PHD from Princeton, Finklestein tells us that everybody in the Middle East wanted peace except Israel, backed by the US and a couple of atolls in the Pacific. Now comes Ali, who doesn't speak of peace but wants an end to the Jewish state.
"Zionist state", he corrected me.
I also reminded him that, once again, he had ranted about Americans whom he calls, "Zionist Jews", which I consider anti-Semitic. I said that to me, there had been mixed signals from the week's speakers. My question was "What is it you guys want-is it a peaceful solution or the end of the Jewish state?
Usually, in my exchanges with Ali, he quietly gives me an answer, which I have respected. This time, he went back into speech mode and started talking about "oppressors and the oppressed" with references to the Israeli Defense Forces. If there was an answer in there, I missed it. Here it is below:
Then there was this question from Roz Rothstein, Director of Stand With Us:
(Hat tip to Rabbi Drew and Orange County Independent Task Force on Anti-Semitism)
After the event, Jewish school pupils (I don't know from which school they were from) participated in a lively series of Jewish dances and song. It was my impression that the MSU folks were, what's the word....discombobulated. (Is that right?)
Oh yeah. There was one other event in the early evening. Some graduate student named Omar Shakir from Georgetown was speaking. I decided enough was enough. Why should I give up my happy hour to go listen to and argue with some grad student from Georgetown? Small potatoes.
I am very disappointed that Chancellor Michael Drake did not come out-especially today-and see and hear for himself what is going on on his campus especially in light of all the contoversy that has given his university a very negative reputation when it comes to this issue. I would have hoped that Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, who continues to deny anti-Semitism at UCI, would have come out and listened to Ali. Ditto for Vice Chancellor Manuel Gomez-wherever he was.
In my view, this week was a victory for the friends of Israel, those who love America, and those who wish to stand up to anti-Semitism on university campuses. I hope it will spread to other campuses in the US and Canada. I know many of UCI's Jewish students would have preferred that the demonstrators not come to campus, but with all due respect, this issue is bigger than just them. This concerns everybody.