[Ed. note: the following report was submitted by Irvine resident and MEF correspondent Gary Fouse.]
Another University of California, Irvine (UCI) week of hate against the Jewish state of Israel has wrapped up, and I would like to add a few post-mortem thoughts.
Several of my friends have remarked that the steam seems to have gone out of the Muslim Student Union's (MSU) Israel Apartheid, aka "Palestine Liberation," week. Perhaps it was the suspension over their disruption of Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren's UCI lecture in 2010; perhaps it was the fact that they seem to be bringing back pretty much the same list of speakers with the same tired old message year after year. Attendance appeared to be down, consisting as it did of about thirty to fifty MSU students, a few curious on-lookers, or other students getting extra credit from their liberal professors to soak in the propaganda. A few people from the community attend to show support for Israel and provide some sort of intellectual challenges to the lies and exaggerations proffered by the speakers.
Hopefully, the MSU is catching on to the fact that the student body pays hardly any attention to them as they pass by the flagpoles on their way to and from lunch or class. For most students at UCI, the week of events has become more an annoyance than anything else. That said, I am not yet ready to proclaim this annual event dead, since another flare-up in the Middle East involving Israel will undoubtedly spur the activists to return to what they do best—congregate at the flagpoles.
Unsurprisingly, the campus paper, the New University, maintained its politically correct reputation in this week's coverage via an article titled "Liberation," which ran on the front page instead of the editorial section, where it belongs. A sampling:
Near the end of Ali's speech, a Zionist Jew from the crowd yelled out, 'We're not allowed to live in our own country?' Ali's answer of, 'It [Israel] is not your country.' [Emphasis added.]
This week's events featured almost the same lineup of speakers we have seen regularly in the past. Boring Ben White, the ever-annoying Berkeley professor Hatem Bazian, the misguided Hedy Epstein (who doesn't realize to whom she is lending support), fiery Amir Abdel Malik Ali (who belies the claims of the MSU that they are some sort of mainstream religious organization that rejects anti-Semitism), and new this year, four unrepentant veterans of the Michael Oren-disrupting "Irvine 11," who swear that if the Israeli ambassador ever returns to UCI, they will be there to disrupt again. To this day, they refuse to acknowledge that Ambassador Oren has a right to speak.
MSU members also remained true to form by limiting opposing views from audience members. During Q&A, they instruct the audience to ask a question that is pertinent to the speech, to be respectful, and to return to one's seat before one's question will be answered. They then interrupt to tell anyone who attempts to interject a comment to get to his question. Anyone who deviates is instructed to cease and return to his seat. It is, of course, a skillful way of limiting the "dialogue" in which they claim to engage.
I heard a lot of talk last week about suffering, victims, and justice, but only regarding the Palestinians. Did anyone mention the slaughter of the Fogel family, including three children, one a couple of months old? Yes: I did. No one was impressed.
Another low point came after Hedy Epstein's talk, when several of us in the audience were approached by a disturbed man around forty years old who looked like Popeye. He was clearly not well and looking for a fight, and he showed us a map depicting the demographics of Israel at various times. He stuck it in the face of the young man sitting next to me, at which point the campus police moved in and told him to get out of our space. At MSU's events, even those in need of professional help are anti-Israel.
Although Malek Ali retiled his stump speech as "The Struggle Has no Borders," the only new material was a reference to Trayvon Martin and the addition of University of California president Mark Yudon to his ever-growing list of "Zionist Jews." When, during the Q&A, I took him to task for the latter, he asserted that there is a difference between referring to "Zionist Jews" and simply "Jews." After his speech, a questioner pointed out to him his infamous quote from his 2010 appearance at UCI, when he told a Jewish questioner, "You Jews. Y'all the new Nazis." That is a direct quote, yet he denied it, claiming that he always says "Zionist" Jews.
At least Malek Ali has stopped bringing his goons to flank him for "security," as he did in 2006 when he called Rupert Murdoch a "straight up Zionist Jew."
Which brings to mind another thought: what are the rest of the students on campus supposed to think when they see these MSU kids standing around in olive-green t-shirts, Palestinian scarves, and red bandannas? Who are they trying to intimidate?
As for the speakers, who ought to be ashamed of their actions since, unlike the students, they cannot claim the indiscretions of youth as an excuse, not only did several of them reuse their old material: they succeeded at times in losing the attention of their own audience, including their base: the MSU. Those poor kids. Each year duty compels them to attend all the events and listen to the same propaganda. Every spring they erect and dismantle that silly apartheid wall day after day. Being an anti-Israel activist must be exhausting. Let's hope that, sooner or later, they awake to the fact that they are appealing only to fringe elements among both students and faculty.