Amir Abdel Malik Ali
On Tuesday, May 8, Amir Abdel Malik Ali returned to the UC Irvine campus, courtesy of the Muslim Student Association, to spew his message of hate. On his previous visit in 2010, he acknowledged that he was a supporter of Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad. He then closed by telling the Jewish audience members, "You Jews. Y'all the new Nazis!"
This day, Ali delivered a rambling, invective-filled speech. Although Ali is a dynamic and fiery speaker, his lectures are unstructured, with no introduction, body, or conclusion. He also accepts countless conspiracy theories.
Today, he tried to cover all the world's ills in forty minutes. Early on he referred to University of California president Mark Yudof as a "Zionist Jew," as he railed against Yudof for a recent letter he made public on a series of racially and religiously tainted incidents on UC campuses. Yudof"s sin was that he didn't mention any Islamophobic incidents. (Here's a secret; there weren't any.)
Of course, Ali railed against Israel and all the "oppression" committed against the Palestinians. (Oppression is one of Ali's favorite words.) He also railed against his own country, America, with mocking references to Uncle Sam. In one of his many newly-discovered conspiracies, Ali said the next military battlefield is going to be Africa. After mentioning Libya, Sudan and Uganda, he made this incredible claim: President Obama is already "in" as far as re-election is concerned. Why? Because there is no way America would start bombing Africa with a white man as president.
The fix is in, folks.
There were fleeting references to other issues of the day, including the Trayvon Martin case (it's all connected, you see) and the obligatory Irvine 11, who "did the right thing" by disrupting the 2010 UCI speech of Israeli ambassador Michael Oren.
Somewhere after the halfway point, Ali indicated he was into his conclusion. I learned years ago that means nothing. Ali proceeded to wander into other subjects until the moderator brought him the "hook" note that he was running out of time.
In my question to Ali during the Q & A session, I noted how ironic it was that the Muslim Student Union always begins their events a with preamble in which they disclaim any racial or religious bias, specifically against members of the Jewish faith, only to invite a speaker like Ali who has a long history of inflammatory statements on the UCI campus. I noted that in previous years, he had referred to Rahm "Israel" Emanuel, David Axelrod, and Rupert Murdoch as "Zionist Jews." His exact words about Murdoch, I noted, were, "Rupert Murdoch-straight up Zionist Jew."
Today he called Mark Yudof a "Zionist Jew." I told Ali that he had done nothing to bring Christians, Jews, and Muslims together, nor blacks and whites. I then told him that he was an anti-Semite who hated his own country. Directing my words to the MSU members in the audience, I told them that they "owned" Ali when they sponsored him as a speaker, as "he is your speaker." So, how can they disclaim anti-Semitism when they bring Ali to campus?
Ali's response was predictable: he claimed to always make a distinction between Jews and Zionist Jews. "Not all Jews are Zionists, and not all Zionists are Jews," he said.
So much for the moderation of the UCI-MSU, and so much for the hollow assurances of the misguided Olive Tree Initiative crowd that the OTI has made the campus situation better.
On May 8, law student and activist Omar Shakir spoke at UC Irvine as part of the Muslim Student Union's "Palestine Liberation Week." He attempted to discover similarities between apartheid South Africa and Israel.
Shakir cited Desmond Tutu, a harsh critic of Israel given to claims that Israel resembles pre-Mandela South Africa. From there, he claimed that Palestinians living in the West Bank under Israeli laws have no legal protection, complained that they don't control their air space as a sovereign nation would, and decried their inability to travel freely due to the numerous checkpoints.
Of the Israeli evacuation of Gaza, Shakir said pulled their settlers in order to "optimize their control." As for East Jerusalem, he told the audience that Palestinians there hold not Israeli citizenship, but a form of temporary residence. He insisted that the Israel situation is apartheid (his emphasis) and claimed that the Jewish state systematically discriminates against non-Jews.
Other claims from Shakir:
- 91% of land in Israel cannot be sold to non-Jews.
- Racial biases are not written into law but exist de facto.
- Some 40 villages in Israel are not recognized therefore don't receive basic services such as water or sewage.
- Palestinians marrying Israelis are not entitled to citizenship, unlike other nationalities.
- Jews in other countries can come to live in Israel, but there is no right of return for Palestinians.
He tried to draw parallels between the formation of South Africa by the racist Boers and the birth of modern Israel. Both settlers, he said, considered themselves as threatened by other peoples; no mention was made of the Jews' ancient ties to Israel as compared to the Boers' non-African lineage.
In his closing remarks, Shakir asked what those of us in the U.S. can do to address what he sees as a dire situation for the Palestinians. The answer: support the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Shakir is a good speaker and comes across as reasonable. He lecture was one-sided and all but ignored legitimate Israeli justifications for check-points and walls. No mention was made of Hamas or Hezbollah. He claimed that it is not for other peoples to decide on the solution (one state or two) to the region's problems, but for the Israelis and the Palestinians. How that squares with his support for BDS he didn't say.