Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Bringing Campus Anti-Semitism to Public Attention

This article first appeared in Eagle Rising.

Recently, I gave a talk before one of the local Act for America chapters in Orange County, California. Act was founded by Brigitte Gabriel, a Lebanese Christian immigrant to the US, to inform the public about  the threat of radical Islam. My topic was one that many in the audience might not have been aware of- anti-semitism on university campuses. So what was the connection? In my view, the connection was that most anti-semitism in the US today is located on our college campuses and is largely driven by two student groups: the Muslim Student Association and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

The latter group was co-founded by UC Berkeley professor Hatem Bazian, a Palestinian Muslim activist, who has also co-founded American Muslims for Palestine, the Zaytuna College at UC Berkeley, and the Islamophobia Research and Documentation Center, also at UCB.

I showed the audience video clips of three radical Islamic imams who have spoken at UC Irvine (where I taught part-time until last year): Abdul Alim Musa, Mohamed al Asi, and Amir Abdel Malik Ali. In a 2001 speech at UCI, Al Asi stated, "You can take the Jew out of the ghetto, but you can't take the ghetto out of the Jew". In a  2006 speech at UCI, Ali called Rupert Murdoch a "straight-up Zionist Jew" literally spitting the word "Jew" out as did the Nazis.

I also showed the audience a caricature of Ariel Sharon posted on the UCI Muslim Student Union's mock "apartheid wall". Sharon was pictured with all the stereotypical Jewish facial features that were used by the old anti-Jewish Nazi newspaper, Der Stuermer.

Finally, I showed the audience a clip of the 2010 disruption of the speech by the Israeli ambassador to the US at UCI. I then went on  to reccount the things I had learned as a campus activist for ten years.

To be sure, the MSU and SJP both deny that they are anti-Jewish-only anti-Zionist. They state as much before all their UCI events. I could also add that SJP has non-Muslim members including some Jews who vehemently support the Palestinian cause. There is also the Jewish Voice for Peace, a despicable left-wing group that joins hands with Israel's foes and doesn't even support the right of pro-Israel voices to speak in public and on campuses. Like SJP, they use Brown Shirt tactics of intimidation and disruption.

But the Jew hatred inevitably seeps out in the vitriol of MSA-SJP invited speakers like the ones mentioned above. Beneath their protestations, they know the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not over land, rather it is over religion. The mostly Muslim Palestinians will never accept a Jewish state.

Another aspect of the problem is the cowardly reaction of most university administrators. Despite years of complaints by Jewish students of being bullied and intimidated, universities either turn a blind eye or give lip service to the problem while doing little to nothing. After the 2010 disruption of the Israeli ambassador's speech, the Muslim Student Union, which planned the disruption and lied about it afterward, was suspended for one year. Yet, on his last day before retiring, the then vice chancellor reduced the suspension to one quarter-ten weeks. In the meantime, an SJP chapter was formed at UC Irvine to take its place. In contrast to this farce, the Orange County DA prosecuted and convicted the 11 students who had been arrested for the incident.

In addition, in May 2015, students from SJP and other student groups attempted to force their way into a film showing about the Israeli Defense Forces being hosted by Students Supporting Israel at UC Irvine. The mostly female audience was terrified and called campus police who came and restored order. It was revealed that there were also "legal representatives" at the incident demanding entry for the protesters. These "legal representatives" were from the National Lawyers Guild-attached to the UCI Law School. The NLG was formed in the 1930s as a legal arm of the Communist Party USA. In a letter issued after the incident defending the protesters, they denied any disruption and stated that after the event was concluded they accompanied the protesters "back to the Cross Cultural center". (The SJP got off with a warning letter from the administration.)

This highlights another problem. For years, the MSU and SJP have used the CCC as a staging area for their disruptions of Jewish events on campus. In 2015 and 2016, I personally witnessed them march out of the CCC and back into the CCC when they protested against the annual I(srael)- Fest held on campus  by Students Supporting Israel and its predecessor group Anteaters for Israel).

After years of complaints and bad publicity, the University of California Regents decided in 2015 that the problem of anti-semitism on UC campuses had to be addressed via a revised Statement of Principles on Intolerance that would specifically address anti-semitism.  This was largely thanks to the work of the AMCHA Initiative, formed by two Jewish UC professors to document and protest against anti-semitism on campus. I was proud to join with  my AMCHA colleagues in speaking to two UC Regent working groups formed to deal with the problem and draft a new statement. This was realized in March 2016 over objections by the pro-Palestinian lobby. In response the UC Irvine chancellor appointed a working group to determine how best ti implement the findings of the Regents.

Yet, this has not solved the problem. The Israel-Palestinian conflict continues to be a vehicle for anti-Israel agitation on campus that often crosses the line from legitimate expression of opposition to Israeli policies to anti-Jewish expression. The disruptive tactics of the SJP continue. Jewish students who support Israel and affirm their Jewish identity are made to feel uncomfortable on campus. I am not talking about oversensitive snowflakes here. Anti-semitism is real, and in my view, it is the worst -ism on campus today.

I should note that my speech was well received, and I have been invited to speak to another Act chapter in May on the same topic. Universities are under a lot of public scrutiny today over the crazy left-wing agitation going on. Hopefully, this other problem will also come front and center to public attention.

1 comment:

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Act was founded by Brigitte Gabriel, a Lebanese Christian immigrant to the US, to inform the public about the threat of radical Islam.

One could reasonably describe that as different factions of immigrants from foreign countries bringing their internecine quarrels to the US, and trying to get Americans to take sides by proxy.