Cross-posted by Gary Fouse
George Galloway on the left, Uday Hussein on the right
Galloway will be at UCI May 21. Uday can't make it. He's dead.
There is yet one more event scheduled by the UC-Irvine Muslim Student Union in concert with their program entitled:"Israel-The Politics of Genocide". That will be May 21, when the America-detesting British MP-and friend of the Saddam Hussein family of Iraq comes to spew his anti-American venom. The main event ended yesterday with Amir Abdel Malik Ali. I would like add a few thoughts and follow-up details.
After Ali was finished with his usual diatribe, a few Jewish students came up to a colleague of mine. They were quite upset and expressed the feeling that nobody at UCI was looking out for them. I have to totally agree with that assessment. Recently, in a campus meeting of Jewish students with a counselor, about half of the students (all females) admitted that they felt intimidated on campus. In my conversation with one Jewish student yesterday, he expressed frustration and indicated that he didn't really know how to respond to this on-going campaign by the MSU on campus, which has anti-Semitic undertones.
Later, my colleague was followed back to his car by an MSU student, who took down his license plate number. (This will be passed on to the campus police). This is the type of intimidation and thuggery that is often practiced by the MSU at UCI against those who voice opposition to their antics and their speakers.
I might note here that the MSU announced yesterday that they are "talking with their lawyers" about being treated "unfairly" by UCI. Apparently, some of the space they wanted to use for their posters had been taken away by the administration.
So what is the outcome of this week's events? Anteaters for Israel will hold their annual I-Fest next week that will feature bake sales, souvenirs and such. I have mixed feelings about it. Yes, it provides a welcome contrast with MSU's emphasis on hatred, doom and gloom. On the other hand, it seems a weak response to those who wish for your destruction.
I feel that UCI's much-vaunted "Olive Tree Initiative", which sent a team of Jewish and Muslim students to the Holy Land, has lost some more credibility here. If a handful of Muslim students had their views moderated, great. What many of us were hoping to see was a greater effort by MSU to moderate their tone and find more reputable speakers. Instead, Malik Ali continues to be a regular speaker, and now we have the specter of Cynthia McKinney and George Galloway tracking their mud on our campus. So much for moderation. I was not present at McKinney's evening speech, but one Jewish friend got up and walked out in disgust after 5 minutes. He described it as an anti-American crowd. He in turn, was followed out by another man, similarly outraged, who called the crowd, "Nazis". This man, in turn, was followed out by an MSU male member who had to be ordered back into the room by a university official to preclude an incident.
As I have written many times before, these events represent a black eye for UC-Irvine, especially since so few students are involved in the ugliness. Yet, it was disappointing to me to see so many other campus student organizations participate in the sponsorship-groups that should know better, and which I hope will do some serious reflection. The university also suffered embarrassment over the announcement of the MSU events on their electronic schedule boards on major campus intersections-which left the impression that the university itself was putting its imprimatur on the theme, "Israel-the Politics of Genocide". (It was eventually taken down when a complaint was lodged that went all the way to the Governor's Office.)
As I have said many times, there are better ways for the MSU to make the case for the Palestinian cause than bringing in incendiary speakers who carry with them not only an anti-Israel agenda, but in many cases, an anti-Jew and anti-American agenda as well. UCI, fairly or unfairly, has acquired a national reputation as a hotbed of radical Muslim and anti-Semitic activity, where complaints of Jewish students have fallen on deaf ears. This week's events did nothing to improve that reputation.
Another aspect of all this that I find discouraging is the mixed reaction of the Jewish community, which is fragmented. In the Irvine area, there are some Jews/and organizations that don't want to make waves for a variety of reasons. Last week, the head of UCI's Hillel sent out a memo urging off-campus groups not to show up to demonstrate against the MSU events. I frankly do not understand that line of thinking. There were only a couple of Jewish professors present at the events-at least that I saw, and one of them was from UC-Riverside. There are organizations that claim that they are supporting Jewish students at UCI in the face of the MSU campaign. Perhaps, but if they are not standing up and fighting the hate that is spewed forth by the MSU and its speakers, then how are they supporting Jewish students-with bake sales? If they don't want to stand up for Israel or for Jews, at least stand up and defend America. That would send a positive message to the entire student body.
Finally this. I have been teaching at UCI part-time for 11 years. Since my principal source of income is derived from my government retirement, I have never even applied for a full-time position. Two hours a day is plenty for me. Yet, it is becoming apparent that my time at UCI is coming to an end. This quarter, after eleven years, I was not initially offered a class-then given a couple of electives a day or two later. Although I have always enjoyed a great relationship with the people I work with in the Extension, I suspect that after all the criticism I have leveled at the UCI Administration over this issue, that someone in the administration finally dropped a call to the Extension. (Nobody has told me that.) Of course, UCI doesn't even have to fire me. I am a part-timer with a quarterly contract. All they have to do is simply not give me any more classes to teach. If that comes to pass, fine. I knew going into this what the consequences could be and accepted it. I do not rely on this job for my survival. No matter what happens, however, rest assured that I will continue to speak out against hate speech and anti-America speech on campus.