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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Day 4 UC Irvine Hate Week "Irvine 11" Panel

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On Thursday evening ( May 10), the Muslim Student Union at UC Irvine mercifully ended their week long anti-Israel week of deceptions and propaganda with a panel involving four former MSU students who were part of the so-called “Irvine 11“, who took part in disrupting a speech by the Israeli ambassador to the US in 2010. They were:

Taher Herzallah, Osama Shabaik, Muhammad Qureashi, and Aslam Traina

The four took turns describing their recollections of the disgraceful event, their arrest and subsequent prosecution by the evil Orange County DA. Contrary to what their supporters have described over the past couple of years, these four young men have hardly been victims. They have continued with their studies at other institutions and seem to have enjoyed a sort of celebrity status (at least among their supporters, who have portrayed them as "martyrs"). Shabaik is now a law student at Harvard and implied that his record was a plus in his acceptance.

All four are intelligent and articulate. Yet, they spoke with a sense of self congratulation, in my view. None  are remorseful for their actions and would do it again. They described their action as legitimate protest, perfectly acceptable on an American college campus and something that should not be criminalized. The audience of about 50 or so, mostly MSU members, applauded them as if they were heroes.

The former students also patted themselves on the back by describing the impact their action had everywhere-even in Israel. They described Michael Oren, the ambassador as a "war criminal" (he previously served in the Israeli Defense Forces), and bragged that he will remember that night for the rest of his life. (Oren pretty much knew he would be disrupted at UCI. It is a common experience for Israeli diplomats speaking on university campuses.) They mocked his expressed desire to return to UCI, and promised that if Oren returned, he would get the same treatment (applause). In addition, they criticized the head of the campus police ("excusing" the actual arresting officers), university officials, the specific official who conducted the investigation, Chancellor Drake, UC president Yudof-everyone but themselves. It was notable that they never mentioned retired vice chancellor, Manuel Gomez, who reduced the MSU suspension from one year to one quarter  on his last day in office.

Naturally, the Q and A was orchestrated to limit any debate or discussion from dissenters. As in all, of the week's events, it was step to the microphone, ask your question, and return to your seat before the question would be answered. That effectively cuts off follow-up questions. By the time I got to the microphone, I knew that I would never be able to get all of my words out (since I didn’t intend to ask a question, rather I wanted to give them my opinion).

I told them that they were hardly victims since by their own descriptions, they are moving on quite well in life, and that they live in the greatest and freest country in the world. Yet, I questioned whether they really understood the concept of American freedom of speech since they only cared about their own right of free speech and not that of their opponents. By the time I told them that they and their organization had, over the years, given a black eye to the university, I was cut short by the moderator, who recognized that I wasn’t asking a  question, rather making a statement, and I was politely asked to return to my seat. I then repeated the same question I had asked Shabaik in the afternoon.-why they could not extend the same courtesy to their opponents that they had enjoyed all week (not being disrupted).

One of the students replied that he had been disrupted (at other events) and that it was OK. If anyone in this audience wanted to disrupt and leave, go ahead. He implied that MSU events at UCI had been disrupted. (The only one I am aware of is in 2001 when the speaker was Amir Abdel Malik Ali.) Others referred back to the “fact” that Oren was a “war criminal” who should  not be allowed to present his country’s propaganda (I am paraphrasing this.) The idea of a polite discourse with Oren was rejected.

To make matters worse, the MSU not only carried out their protest, but reportedly  lied to the university about it.  University officials were reportedly told by the MSU that they were not planning any disruption. After the arrests, the defense was made by the organization that the outbursts were not planned but were a result of a spontaneous, individual  reaction to Oren's words.  (I was there. It was clearly choreographed.)

It is pretty clear that the speakers and the MSU have learned little by the Oren event. They care nothing for the fact that UCI has suffered from the effects of their antics over the years in terms of its national and international reputation. Their attitude is one of self-righteousness, arrogance and self-congratulation.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

You have quite the one sided blog Gary. I was actually physically present at the event and ironically, you have effectively and purposefully left out many refutations to the statements that you made on your blog, such as the reason why they didn't use "polite discourse" and Osama Shabaik's insightful summary of the dissertation on "audience interaction." Also, your analysis on Q and A is quite one-sided as well. You forgot to mention the possibility of giving other people time to ask questions and how the majority of your questions were completely irrelevant to any of the topics, as you would cite and reference actions or words of the speaker from past events or irrelevant articles. Open up your eyes and stop being such a good "hasbara." Either you are a paid to regularly attend these events or you have nothing better to do in your time. If anything, I would go as far to claim you are an Islamophob or you are a classic Orientalist.

Gary Fouse said...

Anonymous,

I assume you are a UCI student and MSU member. If so, I will not make a big deal out of you hiding behind the anonymous mask, but at some stage in life, if you really believe in something, you should assign your name to it.

You threw a lot of terms at me, and I even had to look up hasbara. At least you didn't call me a shabbos goy as some of your colleagues have. Maybe you didn't notice that I rarely write about Israel since I have never visited the country. As for Edward Said and his idea of Orientalism, I reject it as I reject the whole post-colonial crap college kids are forced to swallow. By my own definaition, I was an orientalist in my single youth when I lived in Asia (Thailand) and was attracted to all things Asian.

That brings us to Islamophobia. Before you call me or anyone else an Islamophobe, you need to define the term because it is not easy. Do you define phobia as a hate or a fear-and if a fear-is it an irrational fear? As for the Islamo part, dioes it refer to a dislike or fear of Islam as a religion-or political ideology or a fear/dislike of Muslims? If it the latter, I plead innocent. If you read this blogregularly, you should know by now that I reject blaming all, Muslims for the acts of some.

But let us be frank. Have I spoken out against the idea of imposing sharia in the west-specifically the part called hudud? Yes. I concede that most of sharia is benign and harmless. But the idea that adultery, homosexuality, apostasy and blasphemy would be punishable by death has no place in a free and open society. The idea that apstates in the US like Nonie Darwish, Wafa Sultan and Ayaan Hirsi Ali have fatwas on them and have to live under guard is an outrage. These are not just things out of a centuries-old scripture that nobody pays attention to any more like certain things in the Old Testament, but are being carried out today and called for by leading clerics like Qaradawi.

This country has a long tradition of religious tolerance and it should extend to Muslims as well. Who cares if you worship God, pray 5 times a day, consider Mohammed as the prophet, believe in charity, value clean morals, modesty and chastity? That is to be admired. But when the MSU brings in speakers like Alim Musa and Malik Ali, who are Islamic supremists and want Islam to take over our country, that is where it ends. Respect for religion cuts both ways. Why is it that Copts in Egypt are persecuted? How about the Christians in Pakistan, Iraq, Nigeria? How about the Jews in Yemen or the animists and Christians in Sudan. How about the Baha'i in Iran?


Do I accuse groups like CAIR, ICNA, ISNA, MPAC. and MAS of being Muslim brotherhood creations with links to Hamas? All day long. I also name names including several right here in OC.

Before you compalin about Islamophobia, I suggest that you take a look around your own house.

It is easy to see why the MSU puts all kinds of restriction around questions and comments. It is an effective way to stifle the debate. The fact remains that the MSU denies the right of free speech to israeli officials, but yells foul, when they get caught trying to enforce it. You are not disrupted during your week of events-which by the way-turn off the entire campus (students). Who do you think you are intimidating with your olive green t shirts, red bandannas and scarves? Nobody.

I will close here and invite you to define Islamophobe for me so I can tell you if I fit your definition.

Squid said...

Well done Gary!

I always appreciate a nicely crafted retort to an illogical comment. Anonymous, who is most likely an MSU (as you point out), or at least sounds like one, rants and raves with the typical talking points of the MSU and the Muslim Brotherhood, trying to justify their control options at the "Hate-week" hatefest. I also liked your retort on the Edward Said "Orientalist" phantasmagoria, that has been sliced and diced as poor biased conjecture.
The control features of the "Hate-week" Q and A are very apparent, and noted by a good number of folks in the audience. But these folks in the audience see and understand this sort of suppression and oppression on real free speech. If these MSU types and their operatives where to be subjected to real debate, they would fold like a house of cards. This fall was noted at the impromptu Q and A with Malik Ali, when an audience member verbally sliced and diced him, leaving Malik speechless for moments at a time.
To dismiss the real debate as islamophobia, is a cope-out. Sorry, cop-out is not found in Said's Orientlism.

Squid

Anonymous said...

I could actually care less if my identity was tagged to this, but I do not wish to hand out my personal contact information on a whim.

Ironically again, you are ignoring the majority of my text concerning the actual content of the event and how you conveniently cite instances out of their contexts.

I am not citing or referring completely Edward's Said notion of Orientalism, although certain aspects of his definition of Orientalism ring true to me, such as how the Occident "feels" that it has this innate responsibility to classify and generalize the Orient and all things Orient or how the Occident also "feels" that it must "civilize" the Orient. You can reject "post-colonial crap" all you want, but it is a reality that was created by 16-18th century colonialism (Portuguese, French, Italian, Spanish, English) and openly continued until WW II. Now, because we live in this era of globalization, colonialism has been reduced to using wars to implant military presence, capitalism, and what is called cultural colonialism. You can't reject that these things exist and are innately racist in the sense that they try to undermine local cultures, economies, and governments and replace them with corrupt Western counterparts for the sake of civility.

I define Islamophobia as an irrational fear and/or dislike of Islam as an idealogy that is justified and given rational in the very manner you have.

Claiming that Sharia has any possibility of overrunning this country and actually finding its way into Western society as the premise to speak out against the Islamic influences in America is ludicrous. There isn't even a single "Muslim" country that properly institutionalizes Shariah within its borders, let alone a Western country. Saudi Arabia and Iran are the worst offenders in their fraudulent Sharia practices. Even if someone does place a fatwa on someone's head, a fatwa is nonbinding, depending on the Shaikh they follow. And not any Shaikh can give a fatwa, he has to have the status of Mufti. Even if Muftis came out on American television and would issue fatwas, under Shariah they cannot issue a fatwa that would conflict with the laws of the country they are living in.

You have to recognize before you make certain claims about Sharia law that you have to actually recognize that within Sharia Law itself there are discrepancies. Just because you know certain intricacies within Sharia law via whatever sources you use (I am wild guessing MEMRI, YouTube, Wikipedia, and other arbitrary sources) does not necessarily mean you "know" Sharia law. Adultery are probably the strictest in interpretation from what you just mentioned, but to extend that claim to homosexuality, blasphemy, and apostasy are all punishable by death is ridiculous. Look at the different range of opinions for these topics instead of referring to Saudi Arabia or the Taliban.

Many of the countries that you have claimed persecute their non-Muslim minorities mostly only started doing this in post-colonialism, otherwise they would have all left their respective lands long long ago. They may be currently persecuted by gangs and ruffians, in the same way blacks in the South were lynched and hanged by the whites. I obviously reject these types of persecution regardless. I am a Muslim and I believe if someone wants to go to hell, then that is perfectly fine by me.

Also on the groups you mentioned: awesome insinuations.

A Q and A isn't supposed to be a debate. It is in the name...You can make whatever claims you want.

I probably will not reply to your reply as I will be very busy the coming weeks for midterms and finals.

Gary Fouse said...

I seem to have in advertently deleted another anonymous commenter who implied that I must agree with another comment about Hedy Epstein. I had already stated that I would not go that far. It is an interesting point, however, that had there been an Israel in 1938, perhaps there would have been no holocaust,.

Gary Fouse said...

Anonymous,

Actually, a lot of what I know about sharia is from attending and lsitening to folks like Siddiqi and otehr local leaders in OC. I have attended two interfaith meetings at Chapman and a townhall at the Garden Grove mosque as well as at Loyola Marymount. I attended the recent speech in Anaheim by T Ramadan and met him the following day when I asked him about his call for a MORATORIUM on stoning.
I have personally heard Siddiqi explain how the death penalty for adultery works and all the high standards of conviction- 4 witnesses, confession, recantaion etc. As if that makes it alright in a free, Western society where adultery is considered an issue of maorality but not a crime. I personally spoke with Siddiqi about the death penalty for apostates. It seems that he only goes along with it if the apostates speaks out and criticizes islam-That he says is treason. Well, that may be OK for Saudi Arabia (where the person is given three chances to recant), but it has no place here.

So I don't depend solely on Emerson et al. However I do ask you to consider why Muslims are persecuting religious minorities in Egypt, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan etc. With all due respect that post-colonial explanation is pretty weak. Also why is it that jews in European cities are being insulted, assaulted and spit upon in European cities-mostly by young, male Muslim immigrants? Just who are the greatest perpetrators of religious intolerance in the world today?

If you want to live the rest of your life with some sort of white vs brown mentality, that is your prerogative, but it will only make you an angry person when there is every opposrtunity to live in harmony and mutual respect. If you want to think of yourself as a victim, it will only become a self-fulfilling profacy.

Good luck with your exams.

Anonymous said...

I know I said I wouldn't reply, but here it goes:

I am glad to hear you actually attend these type of events. Like I said, certain aspects of Shariah are unapplicable within Western society, because they might conflict with American/European laws. On the issue of the moratarium, it seems that many right wingers feel that they have this right on liberal Muslim scholars to agree with the more lenient opinions and to openly oppose the more conservative and rigid opinions within Shariah. Just because those different opinions exist does not mean that one takes away from the legitimacy of the other. A scholar (like Jamal Badawi in your newest post) does not need to show support or opposition for any opinion within Shariah.

I do not really have an explanation to why those religious minorities are persecuted within those countries. Most types of persecution has an irrational basis, which I obviously completely object to. If my post colonialism argument is weak, then can you care to explain why there have been Christians and Jews living in Arab and Muslim lands for centuries until now if they have been treated so horribly for such a long time? Look at statistics of Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, etc. Your comment where you claim that "jews...insulted, assaulted and spit upon...by young, male Muslim immigrants" is borderline Islamophobic in the sense you are implying that all of these individuals are antisemites. And if this claim is true, these type of antisemitism was caused by the creation of the state of Israel and by the pan-Arabism movement, which was eventually hijacked by pan-"Islamists" (I don't like the term Islamist).

I am actually not much an angry person. I am actually quite hopeful in terms of how the world is progressing in terms of racial, cultural, and idealogical equality, except for the existence of certain influential extremists. However, the existence of these idealogies that support racial supremacy on an institutional level must be recognized. Let me give you an example. If you look at the majority of affluent cities in the US, the demographic majority of those cities is white americans. Those cities have the best education systems because they have the highest property taxes, yet the majority of the children of people living in such cities will most likely have an established status in society even if they had a lower level of education. If you look at the opposite side of the spectrum, at the most poverty striken cities in the US, the demographic majority of those cities are either blacks or hispanic minorities. They have poorer levels of education, because of lower property taxes and the children of such cities will most likely grow up to be criminals or dropouts because of their poor education system, resulting in a vicious cycle for black and Hispanic communities. Of course, this is not true ALL of the time, but it is true the majority of the time.

Now, I really have to study. This is probably my last post. And thanks.

Anteater said...

The old myth that Jews and Arabs in harmony until Israel was created....

The truth is that in general Jews were treated better in Muslim lands than in Europe but they had no security. At any time Jews a new leader could come into power and Jews could be persecuted and treated as second class citizens.

During WWII, a new kind of anti-Jewish ideology developed. But that is another topic.

As Mitchell Bard (worked at UC Irvine doing a postdoc fellowship) wrote:

"Jews were generally viewed with contempt by their Muslim neighbors; peaceful coexistence between the two groups involved the subordination and degradation of the Jews.

In the ninth century, Baghdad’s Caliph al-Mutawakkil designated a yellow badge for Jews, setting a precedent that would be followed centuries later in Nazi Germany.

At various times, Jews in Muslim lands lived in relative peace and thrived culturally and economically.

The position of the Jews was never secure, however, and changes in the political or social climate would often lead to persecution, violence and death.

When Jews were perceived as having achieved too comfortable a position in Islamic society, anti-Semitism would surface, often with devastating results.

On December 30, 1066, Joseph HaNagid, the Jewish vizier of Granada, Spain, was crucified by an Arab mob that proceeded to raze the Jewish quarter of the city and slaughter its 5,000 inhabitants.

The riot was incited by Muslim preachers who had angrily objected to what they saw as inordinate Jewish political power.

Similarly, in 1465, Arab mobs in Fez slaughtered thousands of Jews, leaving only 11 alive, after a Jewish deputy vizier treated a Muslim woman in “an offensive manner.” The killings touched off a wave of similar massacres throughout Morocco.

Other mass murders of Jews in Arab lands occurred in Morocco in the 8th century, where whole communities were wiped out by the Muslim ruler Idris I; North Africa in the 12th century, where the Almohads either forcibly converted or decimated several communities; Libya in 1785, where Ali Burzi Pasha murdered hundreds of Jews; Algiers, where Jews were massacred in 1805, 1815 and 1830; and Marrakesh, Morocco, where more than 300 Jews were murdered between 1864 and 1880.

Decrees ordering the destruction of synagogues were enacted in Egypt and Syria (1014, 1293-4, 1301-2), Iraq (854­-859, 1344) and Yemen (1676).

Despite the Koran’s prohibition, Jews were forced to convert to Islam or face death in Yemen (1165 and 1678), Morocco (1275, 1465 and 1790-92) and Baghdad (1333 and 1344).

The situation of Jews in Arab lands reached a low point in the 19th century. Jews in most of North Africa (including Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Morocco) were forced to live in ghettos. In Morocco, which contained the largest Jewish community in the Islamic Diaspora, Jews were made to walk barefoot or wear shoes of straw when outside the ghetto. Even Muslim children participated in the degradation of Jews, by throwing stones at them or harassing them in other ways. The frequency of anti-Jewish violence increased, and many Jews were executed on charges of apostasy. Ritual murder accusations against the Jews became commonplace in the Ottoman Empire.

Anteater said...

"I am actually not much an angry person. I am actually quite hopeful in terms of how the world is progressing in terms of racial, cultural, and idealogical equality, except for the existence of certain influential extremists. However, the existence of these
idealogies that support racial supremacy on an institutional level must be recognized."

What are you trying to say here?

Do you think there is a chance of peace with Israel and along the lines of what Barak spoke about in Cairo a couple years back?

If you are a memember of the MSU, why do you support a group that invites a nimrod like Malik Ali to speak on the campus. If I were a Jewish student, I would not join a Jewish group that invited a Kahane supporter to speak on the campus.

Anteater said...

anon, I think you make a fair point that people don't start on a level playing field when it comes to socio-economic factors.

However, some cultures value education more than other cultures. That is a factor that you seemed to overlook.

Look at Vietnamese, Korean and Chinese students. Many do very well academically despite having to overcome socio-economic factors.

This is not to say I think we don't need to make changes.
I'm all for supporting a better education system. For instance, the LA Unified School District is a mess that needs a lot of help. However I think it should be pointed out that it isn't all about funding. Much of the funding can be lost in administration. And parental involvment and other factors are also important factors. It isn't just the schools that are the problem.

Gary Fouse said...

Anon,

You don't know why Christians and Jews are being mistreated? Except for yemen, the Jews left ca 1948-driven out. Why are Christians persecuted- Israel? Yes during some era Jews were treated better under Islam than Christians, but it was dhimmi status and anteater has pointed out some unpleasant truths over the centuries.

When I pointed out the persecution at LMU to the panelists, Qazwini said that it was because these countries have lived under dictatorships-which have been supported by the western superpowers including the US. He said, "Don't blame Muslims-don't blame Islam". Another said that when the majority is oppressed, minorities will be oppressed. Dr Sherman Jackson called it a "false criteria". "Just because a problem persists doesn't mean Muslims are not speaking out about it." When I said the same thing to Shaheel Syed all he did was nod his head, repeat, "yes" over and over and then tell me that in the afternoon session there would be time for Q and A.

As for your def. of Islamophobia

If that is your definition, why would fear of the ideological part be irrational given 9-11, 7-7 (UK) Madrid, Mumbai and all the other killings going on? I consider Islam as a religion and a political ideology. I have told you which parts (religion) I have no quarrel with and the political ideological parts I am concerned about. As for sharia-it is the hudud part I see having no place in the West. I am fully aware that sharia commands Muslims living in non-Muslim countries to obey local law. The problem is that too many Muslim leaders (CAIR, MPAC, ICNA, ISNA, MAS) subscribe to radical ideologies, which they attempt to hide. They see it as their goal to advance the cause toward that day when Islam will become dominant in the US and world. They know they will never live to see it, but they see it as their duty to do what they can to that end. And those are the so-called "moderates" and "bridge builders". I have not even mentioned the ones who come right out and tell us they will take us over. I respect everyone's right to practice their religion, but when it starts to be a political ideology that seeks to conquer then we are talking something else. We have gained freedoms in this country for our women, gays and people of all faiths, including apostates and atheists that we do not intend to surrender.

I have learned the talking points, and what I see is a complete lack of taking responsibility for one's failures and faults. It is always the fault of others. There are two societies in today's world that have taken responsibility for their historical wrongs. Germany for the Nazi era and the US for slavery and Jim Crow (and other forms of discrimination such as the Japanese relocation).

Similarly, to throw out the Islamophobia word because I point out what is happening to Jews in Europe is wrong. There is no excuse for what is happening. Yet, you mention Israel just as the mayor of Malmo blames Israel and his own local Jews' failure to "adequately" criticize Israel. So he thinks they deserve what they get. It is like justifying assaults against US Muslims because of 9-11. Neither is acceptable.

As for the situation in US cities, most of the big ones are run by dems and in many cases by African-Americans. Yet, crime is rampant, schools are collapsing and nobody wants to hold the Dems' feet to the fire. Much easier to blame the white 1%-ers (and of course, the Jews, which OWS has caught onto.)

Failing schools? Look no further than LAUSD, from which I graduated. When I graduated from University HS in 1963, it was the number 2 rated school in the US, and was diverse too. No more. Lack of money isn't the cause of the problem. Wash DC spends more per student that anyone, and it hasn't worked.


Study.