Now that the 2010 Israel Apartheid Week at UC-Irvine is behind us, I think it is time to pass on a few comments about the past week. I believe-and I hope- that this week marked a seminal event in the history of these hateful events. Those of us who support Israel, love our own country and stand up to anti-Semitism have learned a few lessons this week, which I will expand on in an upcoming posting. I strongly believe, however, no matter how much the UCI Muslim Student Union, their supporters, the New University campus newspaper and the local Orange County Register try to interpret or spin this, the forces of Israel Apartheid Week took a whipping this week at UCI.
The major story to come out of this week's events is that after the outrage of the disruption of the Israeli ambassador's speech on February 8th, many segments-not all-of the Jewish community have awakened from their slumber. Thus, members of the local Jewish community determined at the grass roots level that if another hate week was to go forward, their voices were going to be heard.It was not going to be just another one-sided bashing of Israel, America and American Jews. Not without a response.
When I say grass roots, I mean individuals from the community-both Jewish and Christian- who decided enough was enough. They realized that, with only a couple of exceptions, they could not pin their hopes on the national Jewish organizations to fight for them. Right now, from my viewpoint as a Christian, the major two Jewish organizations at the national level who have stepped up to the plate at UCI are the Zionist Organization of America and Stand With Us. Add to that, at the local level, the Orange County Independent Task Force on Anti-Semitism and Act for America.
The largest draws that the MSU brought to our campus were Norman Finklestein, who even the MSU could only advertise on their fliers as "independent scholar with a PHD from Princeton University", Professor William Robinson of UC Santa Barbara and old stand-by Amir Abdel Malik Ali. They all flopped.
Finklestein was showed up for what he is in the Q&A. First, yours truly came to the mike and asked him to add his signature to that of 40 mostly-Jewish professors at UCI who had issued a letter pleading to an end to anti-Semitic words and actions on the UCI campus. It took the great independent scholar about 5 minutes of a winding answer, mostly talking about Richard Goldstone, to essentially decline-without saying so (see my posting). Then, when a Jewish student called him "Norm", Finklestein threw another one of his famous temper tantrums showing everybody that he is nothing but a bully.
William Robinson gave a lecture basically recounting the Radical's Handbook from memory and putting even the MSU members to sleep. When it was over, I told him I considered him neither a professional nor an educator, but an indoctrinator. Have a nice trip back to Santa Barbara, Dr Robinson.
(Just follow the coastline due north.)
Then yesterday, Amir Abdel Malik Ali came and gave his standard thunder and lightening speech as some one hundred pro-Israel (and pro-America) folks walked around with Israeli and American flags. In the Q&A, Roz Rothstein, Director of Stand With Us drew some interesting admissions out of Ali that will make a lasting sound-bite. Ali admitted that he was pro-Hamas, pro-Hezbollah, and pro-Islamic Jihad. As to the question of whether he was pro-Jihad on (the UCI) campus, he answered insofar as it pertains to "speaking truth to power". He then called (the Jews in the audience) "Nazis". Sweet.
Thank you, Mr Ali. Welcome to your YouTube moment.
If one can read body language, and I can, the MSU was taken aback by the presence of so many pro-Israel demonstrators. (So were a few folks who one would think would be on our side, which I discussed in a previous article-and will discuss again).
As I said before, the pro-Israel folks were boisterous but observed the proper rules of behavior. There were two exceptions, a married couple who showed up independently and acted like jerks in spite of our requests to act civilly.
As I remarked earlier, I regret that two earlier speakers Hedy Epstein and Alison Weir had stayed to hear Ali yesterday. It might have given them pause. In addition, it must now be publicly asked; where were Chancellor Michael Drake, who has the weight of the university crashing down on him-from both sides- all because of this controversy? Is is incredible that he would not see and hear for himself. Same for Erwin Chemerinsky, our law dean, who has repeatedly denied anti-Semitism at UCI-both before and after he came here.
Initially, I was encouraged that the Orange County Register showed up. Reporter Ian Hamilton briefly interviewed me earlier in the week. It is obvious, however, from his writing, that the Register is not going to take a stand one way or another.
Or is it? Hamilton was reportedly overheard this week telling MSU members that he was going to get "their story to the world". If that is incorrect, Mr Hamilton, please feel free to correct the record, as they say in the media.
In addition, OC Register reporter Mary Jo Fisher, who used to cover the beat at UCI, has just requested the Independent Task Force to remove her from their e-mail list. Strange behavior from a reporter who is supposed to strive to get all sides of a story, wouldn't you say, Ms Fisher? Personally, I think she is much better suited in her present role as a columnist writing articles about washing dishes as the "Frumpy Old Mom".
All in all, this week was a victory for the good guys, one that can be duplicated in other places.