Where does free speech end and incitement begin? And what is the responsibility of a college administration for what happens on its campus?
At the University of California campus at Irvine (in Orange County), Jewish students pose these two questions. That's because of events sponsored by the Muslim Student Union (MSU) and the Society of Arab Students (SAS) related to their fourth annual “Zionism Awareness Week.”
Zionism is the historic return of Jews to their historic homeland. Originally embraced by Theodore Herzl and other Jewish leaders, Zionism has come to be embraced by many Christians, especially American Protestant Christians, as morally legitimate and politically defensible. But Islamofascists and their fellow travelers use the word pejoratively to explain why wealthy Arab countries have not lifted a finger in more than half a century to help resettle Palestinians. In a movement sweeping Europe, Israel is somehow now "held accountable" for a state of war that Arab nations initiated and have waged for decades. Israel is even considered liable for the Arab rejection of the Oslo accords.
On campuses throughout the United States, the same leftists who opposed Ronald Reagan's conduct in the Cold War now oppose President George W. Bush's War on Terrorism. Once, these misguided individuals saw a moral equivalence between the Soviet Union and United States. Now, Israeli self-defense is depicted as state terrorism, while terrorist acts to kill Jews are seen merely as the acts of "militants" who are driven to violence by “desperation.” At best, the “evenhanded” school of Middle Eastern policy condemns “the violence on both sides.” At worst, consider UC-Irvine.
At UC-Irvine, the MSU and SAS members wore green armbands to support Hamas. The leaders of Jewish campus organizations protested in vain to the politically correct administration, which is (or pretends to be) unfamiliar with Hamas' charter. Indeed, an MSU member sent an e-mail to the MSU list concerning whether graduating students should wear sashes which say "shahada" (the Arabic word for suicide bomber).
The pro-Israel campus leaders reiterate their commitment to freedom of speech, but they believe in full disclosure -- letting people know what the MSU and SAS speakers apparently endorse. They also note that the emblem of the University of California at Irvine (UCI) is on the podium that features the MSU agitators. The MSU also has displayed posters on campus that equate the Star of David with the Swastika. Of course, this theme is hardly unique to UCI.
Leaders of Hillel and other Jewish groups on campus have requested the administration record the speakers MSU and SAS bring to campus. The administration refused their request, even though the guests of MSU and SAS have reportedly called for an Islamic revolution in America and for supporting Hamas in its war against "Zionists" -- and Western civilization.
Despite the history of Arab violence against their fellow Arabs and the anti-democratic and repressive atmosphere that characterizes most Arab societies, Muslim and Arab student organizations not only focus themselves on attacking Israel and the United States, but they embrace the very terrorist organizations responsible for so much bloodshed. If anyone wants to encourage reasonable and moderate Muslim organizations, one start would be for administrations to make incitement to violence unfashionable at a large, public-funded institution of higher learning.