Thursday, April 1, 2010

Two British Academics Weigh in on the "Irvine 11" Case

Gary Fouse

Hat tip to the Orange County Independent Task Force on Anti-Semitism)

"Ollie, look what happened at this university in the colonies."

"Why we should write a letter of protest, Stanley."

(I know. I know. Hardy was from Georgia.)

Now it seems we have academics from the University of London sending letters to UCI with their own "expert opinions" on the disruption of the Israeli ambassador to the US's speech at UC-Irvine on February 8. Here is their letter to the UCI campus paper, New University (with my comments of course).

By Sherifa Zuhur and Nadje al-Ali on Mar. 29, 2010

Full letter available at

"We represent the Committee for Human Rights and Academic Freedom of the Association of Middle Eastern Women’s Studies, an affiliate of the Middle East Studies Association of North America, and the largest scholarly group of its kind. Most of us are career academics.

Fousesquawk comment: Well, whoop dee doo. Judging by your titles, I'd say you have your hands full without getting involved at UCI-or anywhere else in the US.

We are writing to you with concerns about the civil rights of eight UC Irvine students and three UC Riverside students.

These students were detained, handcuffed, and cited with pending criminal charges due to their brief vocal protests during a speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren on February 8, 2010 at UCI. The students did not attempt to “drown out” the speech of Ambassador Oren as was alleged, and voluntarily exited the auditorium.

They are being threatened over the Internet. We were troubled to learn that the Muslim Student Union at UCI is also being threatened with disciplinary actions and to hear that Assemblyman Chuck Devore and the Zionist Organization of America have called for its exclusion from campus for some time.

Perhaps you are aware that a movement to dispute the actions of the government of Israel and its illegal occupation of Palestinian territory has been taking this particular form of protest at other college campuses and public forums, and is likely to continue. We would like you to admit that powerful academic and community groups and lobbies have prevented speeches, and indeed have protested the presence of any who might speak, as the Israeli Ambassador did, in support of Palestinian rights.

Fousesquawk comment: Yeah, we're aware alright, but as far as preventing MSU speakers from coming to UCI and making the Palestinian case, that's news to me. I have been witnessing pro-Palestinian events and speakers at UCI for years. The fact is that the Palestinian side pretty much owns the debate on university campuses. The "learned academics" don't know what they are talking about.

In addition, at previous events at UCI, speakers invited by Muslim students have been drowned out by organized campus protesters who were not cited or threatened for their actions. We therefore wonder if a double standard is being utilized.

Fousesquawk comment: I am only aware of one such incident when Amir Abdel Malik Ali was disrupted by protesters in 2001. Aside from that incident nearly a decade ago, the only protests the MSU has encountered were people with posters and US/Israeli flags who listened, allowed the speakers to speak and then lodged questions and challenges. There have been no disruptions that I know of since the one just mentioned. I have witnessed no disruption like what the MSU students did on February 8th. If there is a double standard at UCI, it has worked in favor of the MSU.

These students have broken no law, but have expressed their views, exercising their freedom of speech. It appears that UCI is punishing them (and UCR seeks to punish them) in a disproportionate and public manner because they are Muslim and support Palestinian rights.

Fousesquawk comment: Nonsense. No one is trying to punish them for being Muslims and defending the Palestinian cause. That is a ridiculous charge. Whether the students broke any laws (they are charged with disrupting a public event) will be determined by our courts here in this US. What moves these characters to decide a point of law in the US is beyond me. Must be their academic arrogance.

Civil protest against governmental policies is a longstanding activity on college campuses.

Fousesquawk comment: Yes, but there are certain rules in protests. These rules and limitations may be different here in the US than in the UK.

We hope you do not regret the ending of apartheid and the fostering of civil rights which such protests firmly supported and helped win. We support and defend the rights to free speech by these UCI and UCR students and their intent to protest serious violations of human rights by Mr. Oren’s government."


Dr. Sherifa Zuhur, Chair, Committee for Human Rights and Academic Freedom, Association of Middle East Women’s Studies

Dr. Nadje al-Ali, President, Association of Middle East Women’s Studies (SOAS, University of London)

Fousesquawk comment: The issues of South African apartheid and the US civil rights struggle are not related to Israel in spite of all the propaganda that you are spouting. For you to relate apartheid to Israel is your opinion as are your statements about human rights violations by Israel. Finally, if your area of work is Middle Eastern women's studies, I think you should direct your concerns to that area of the world-where they are sorely needed.

Finally, we get a little bit sick and tired of having so many people in Britain and Europe give us advice on how to handle our problems. I note that you have plenty of problems going on in Great Britain. People like Anjem Choudary openly proclaim that they want to get rid of democracy in Britain. So why the hell are you lecturing us?

Which reminds me, how is old George Galloway doing?

No comments:

Post a Comment