Note: We have as many opinions on the Israel-Palestine conflict as we do pictures of this Islamic Awareness event. Don't fret, though. We're coming out with a five-point solution to the dispute, plus an article that will foster Middle East peace for the next thousand years … Right after we figure out whether or not Chinese takeout-fueled hippies have the right to ceaselessly inhabit oak trees.
Second Note: I'm dropping the "we" voice for this story—just to remove some awkwardness from the article.
On Friday, I attended Hatem Bazian's pro-Palestine lecture with high hopes for high drama. Though it isn't my place to express an opinion on this incredibly controversial issue, the event seemed inherently intriguing. By the way, "controversial" is code for "I'd be scared shitless to express any viewpoint on this oft fought over situation, and even if I did have a strong take on it (which I don't), I still might not touch it with a ten-foot falafel for obvious reasons."
The event had free food (thank you, Indus club) and reasonably comfortable seating. Not so much with the drama, though. As expected, the speeches were replete with opinions regarding the "Palestinian Question." But unfortunately, nothing particularly Clogworthy happened.
That is, until the speeches were over. At the event's conclusion, two men approached me. One grabbed my dysfunctional digital camera, and the other demanded to know "who I was working for." They asked to "erase what's on the camera." I explained that the cam was broken and proceeded to demand its return in a politely profanity-laced manner (I'm sorry, but camera theft is a pet peeve of mine).
The contested object was returned after much squabbling. The camera-jacking disappointed me but not because I felt violated. No, I was bummed because I oh-so-badly wanted the seizing of property to be a trite metaphor for the land disagreement. I secretly yearned for the incident to end like one those "Arrested Development" lessons George senior employs.
I initially thought the reaction paranoid, but it made more sense after some Google perusing. Bazian has been targeted by various political groups for controversial comments, and he's been the object of much Bill O'Reilly vituperation (Was I mistaken for an O'Reilly operative? Ew, another thing I wouldn't want to touch with a ten-foot falafel.). Well, again, it's not my place to comment on the world's most red-flagged of issues: This is merely a written snapshot of life on this bizarre, politically-charged campus.
Correction & Update: The lecture series was hosted by Islamic Awareness, and not hosted by Students for Justice in Palestine. I initially incorrectly attributed the gathering to SJP, and that was a mistake. Apparently, I was misinformed when a student told me that the event was SJP sponsored. I apologize to SJP for the mix-up.
For more clarification, here is a Facebook message from Yaman:
Hi Ethan, I just sent you an e-mail. I think you made a mistake in your Clog posting. This was not an SJP event. It was sponsored by a group called Islamic Awareness. We never agreed to sponsor the event, though we included it in our weekly list of Palestine-related events. Please correct the article. I think you can confirm—since we've had class together—that at no time did I approach you yesterday evening, nor did anybody else from SJP. If you were approached, it was somebody from another organization. I am sorry to hear this story, though I doubt Hatem Bazian was involved. I would suggest investigating by contacting the Islamic Awareness folks to see who these men were. This was a publicly advertised event, in a public building, at a public school, and nobody has a right to prevent you from taking photographs or from entering the room. Please contact me as soon as you have an updated version of the article. Thanks.
Berkeley Intifada [East Bay Express]
Dear Daily Cal Editors,
I am a board member of Students for Justice in Palestine and am writing to inform you about a serious error in a recent posting on the Clog. The event that the author mentions was not sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine. Rather, it was sponsored by another student group called Islamic Awareness. At no time did SJP agree to co-sponsor this event, though we listed it on our list of Palestine-related events in our weekly e-mail. We often include information about such events on our weekly e-mails, even though we have nothing to do with them.
Please post this clarification, issue a retraction regarding the Clog posting in question, and offer an apology at the nearest possible convenience.
Did the author of this post bother to contact SJP or Hatem Bazian before posting this article, to see that SJP did not host this event and that the people present were not brought in by Hatem, who arrived at the event 30 minutes late, even when the men in question were already in the room? I don't know who is responsible for this but I was at the event and it did not seem like Hatem was anything but a guest speaker. In any case, the reporter should have done a bit more research before spreading this kind of stuff…
— thewalrus • Oct 7, 12:28 AM • #
I don't know where the idea that I don't want my pictures taken at a public event. If anyone looked through the web one for sure would find many photos taken at public events with more tension than the event last night on campus. I hope that in the future communication with the person in question can be undertaken before such a headline.
— Hatem Bazian • Oct 7, 01:02 AM • #
On behalf of the Islamic Awareness of Berkeley organization, we condemn any act that would inhibit the free exchange of ideas. As sponsors to the event, we apologize if anyone felt that this free exchange was violated in any way. No one from any sponsoring organization was responsible for any of the above, nor the fault of our speakers, but we will exert more effort in future events to make sure that such an encounter does not happen. Conflicts seize when people have mutual respect, and we will continue to emphasize this. We hope our organizers and members become more alert to this, so that we may lead by example. We hope the offended party or individual accepts our apology and we can move forward and work together to prevent future occurrences.
Islamic Awareness of Berkeley
— Islamic Awareness of Berkeley • Oct 7, 03:16 AM • #