I must be a glutton for punishment. Last night at UC-Irvine, I thought my head was going to explode. Once again, Israel was on the plate as the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) featured three Jewish speakers (one an Israeli, the other two American). They all had one thing in common. They are on the Palestinian side. (Welcome to the club.)
The three were two women from Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), a "Progressive" organization that opposes Israel. Their names were Estee Chandler and Rachel Roberts. The latter actually participated in the recent disruption of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu's speech in New Orleans. The third was a guy named Matan Cohen, a young Israeli who is a Palestinian-supporting activist and member of Anarchists against the wall. (That should give you a clue.) His claim to fame is that he regularly gets tuned up and/or shot by Israeli IDF forces during his demonstration activities. They each spoke for about 20 minutes.
Briefly summarized, Chandler and Roberts' presentations were devoid of any substance. They were just their FEELINGS about the Israelis' "injustices" toward the Palestinians. Chandler claimed to be an ex-actress and rattled off a list of her screen credits which I didn't pay any attention to. Yet, this former actress had to read her entire presentation from her laptop. Her voice cracked several times during her time speaking. (Stage fright, I guess.)
It was Cohen who was the most interesting speaker. He clearly has passion for his beliefs and described several experiences first-hand. His flaw is that he exudes arrogance as he gets warmed up. In fact, I would compare him a bit to Ben White, that British twit who spoke a few months earlier at UCI. Cohen is Ben White on steroids.
Here is the important fact that came out of their presentations. Both Roberts and Cohen made it crystal clear that in their view, defenders of Israel should not enjoy free speech rights. Roberts defended her actions in disrupting Netanyahu's speech. Both Roberts and Cohen made it a point to defend and salute the so-called "Irvine 11." (The disruption of the Israeli ambassador to the US' speech at UCI last year.) Cohen said that had he been there, he would have done it too. Roberts described these actions of disruption as .....
Cohen described presentations such as Michael Oren (Israeli ambassador to the US) as....
Sounds like language from the good old days of Joseph Stalin, doesn't it? I heard that term used two or three times last night.
Cohen also made another arrogant observation, indirectly referring to long-standing claims that certain people at UCI did not feel comfortable or safe on campus. Cohen told us that those who would defend Israel should not feel comfortable on campus. Both Cohen and Roberts made references to the "fact" that members of Stand With US (a Jewish/Israel advocacy group) were present and filming-looking in my direction since I was sitting in front of a woman who was filming the event. All three made occasional references to the claim that they were being courageous as Jews for speaking out. (Their side doesn't have the "resources" to get their voice heard, according to Roberts.)
Well, when the Q and A started, my question/statement was obvious. It went something like this:
I said that I was happy to note that they had been allowed to speak without any disruption, but that they had made it clear that they did not believe people with opposing opinions should enjoy that right. I told them that it didn't take any courage for them, even as Jews, to come to a campus and bash Israel. Basically, they were actually a dime a dozen on a college campus. I pointed out that I had been present at the Oren affair (disrupted by the Muslim Student Union) and that it was "ugly". I referred to the JVP disruption in New Orleans and also pointed out that a few days previous, SJP in Scotland had disrupted and actually shut down a presentation by an Israeli official-invading the stage in the process. I then addressed Cohen by adding that for him as an Israeli to come to our country and tell us who should and shouldn't have the right to speak was offensive and arrogant. I told him that this was not Israel but America where everyone had the right to speak.
"Thank you very much."
Later, while answering a question, Roberts pointed at me and stated that I had said that someone from another country (Cohen) didn't or shouldn't have the right to come to America and voice his opinion. When I responded by telling her that was not what I said, she shook her finger and me and shouted, "Yes you did!".
I told her she was lying. What I actually said to Cohen is what is written above-as any videotape will confirm (which I will be posting shortly).
What we heard last night was another dime a dozen, one-sided Palestinian narrative. Here is what was deliberately left out of the presentation last night.
There was no talk about suicide bombings and Palestinian terrorism.
While Roberts and Chandler spoke often about historical anti-Semitism in Europe and America, there was no mention of the anti-Semitism raging in the Arab world.
There was no mention or context of the three wars in which Arab armies tried to wipe out Israel in 1948, 1967 and 1973.
I heard Yassir Arafat's name mentioned about three times in a neutral context. Nothing was said about what a murderous, corrupt terrorist Arafat was.
When condemning Israel's various military actions, there was no mention whatsoever as to the context in which Israel acted (i.e. the fighting in Gaza).
To sum in up, there was nothing new last night; just another dime a dozen, boiler plate recital of Israel's perceived wrongs. But what really came out loud and clear was that these speakers and the organizations they represent openly demonstrated their view that their opponents should not enjoy the right of free speech that they enjoyed last night. What it really boils down to is that this just a bunch of leftist radicals who showed any reasonable observer what "progressives" (which they label themselves as being) are really about.
Useless discourse, indeed.