It is truly ironic that, at the same time the US Civil Rights Commission has decided to launch a website noting that deliberate anti-Semitism has become an endemic part of the American college scene by masquerading as discussions over the Middle East, the University of California at Riverside, a taxpayer-supported public university, should decide to play host to a national conference by one of the most virulent Jew-hating organizations in America.
Al Awda (the Return in Arabic), also known as the Palestine Right to Return Coalition (PRRC), is one of the largest member groups that comprise the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and is a major player in the divestment campaign against Israel. It calls for the boycotting of Jewish-owned businesses both here in the USA and abroad. Last year, Front Page Magazine featured articles about Al Awda’s 2005 national conference held at San Francisco State University, another taxpayer-supported institution.
Al Awda was founded by Mazin Qumsiyeh, a former Yale geneticist and Palestinian Christian Arab who former PLO terrorist Walid Shoebat has recounted was an active member in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) during his youth living in the West Bank, and who participated in the lynching of an Israeli soldier. The PFLP is still considered an illegal terrorist group per the US state department after it introduced airplane hijackings to the world. Its assorted operatives, including Palestinian President Machmoud Abbas, who later broke off and started the Palestine Liberation Front, another designated terrorist group, are linked to the hijacking of the Achille Lauro tourist ship and the murdering of wheelchair-bound Leon Klinghoffer, an American Jew whose body was dumped into the sea. US diplomats Cleo Noel and George Cullis Moore were also murdered in Sudan, among other heinous acts committed by members who also linked to the PFLP. Qumsiyeh, at an Al Awda sponsored ISM conference at Duke University, described Jews living in Israel as “a disease”, a particularly vulgar description of Jews to be made by a physician.
UC Riverside was notified weeks before any public announcement that Al Awda chose the southern California campus for its venue this year in May and was supplied ample evidence of Al Awda’s anti-Semitism veiled as Middle East discussion as an academic “conference.” Make no mistake about it, Al Awda’s upcoming conference, like the one at SFSU, is to train radicals in the US on how to make war on the Jews in Israel, as well as against Jewish institutions within the United States for supporting a Jewish homeland. They don’t shoot machine guns at these conferences, they just devise ways to help those overseas who do, however, the targets are not just Jews; Al Awda also openly supports the Iraqi resistance and other movements who are killing US G.I.’s in Iraq, and they make no bones about it.
The press release just issued by Al Awda with the blessing of the UC Riverside administration describes the convention as “a commemoration of the Nakba (Catastrophe in Arabic), the 59th year since the “State of Israel” was declared on stolen Palestinian land, and which led to the Zionist occupation of all of Palestine.” This press announcement alone should be enough to deny an off-campus group to hold such an event at UC Riverside. If such an event promoted truth and facts in place of lies and indoctrination on campus, instead of political and racial warmongering masquerading as academic discussion against Jews euphemistically called “Zionists”, it might have its place.
Factually, most of Israel established by Jews was on land that was legally purchased, not “stolen Palestinian land” and the state was created by the United Nations as per international law. The reference to the “Zionist occupation of all of Palestine” is clearly rhetoric denying Jews any title to the land there. Denying any national ethnic group any right to exist in any region of the world, as the Al Awda gang denies Jews in the Middle East on behalf of Hamas and the PLO, is every bit as racist as Jim Crow laws during the Civil Rights Era. The American Nazi Party feels such kinship to Al Awda that it links from their website to Al Awda’s Boycott Israeli Goods website through an official logo with no objection from the Arab organization. Al Awda also links up with La Voz De Aztlan, a movement that calls for Mexico taking back the Western United States and that is just as anti-Semitic as the Nazis.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs James Sandoval used the standard excuse when allowing the conference to proceed on campus: “We had the campus police investigate and asked the University counsel, none of who could find reasons to object to the conference on campus. We allow registered campus groups to bring in outside guests (the event is co-sponsored by the UCR Students for Justice in Palestine and Muslims Students Union, as well as several other Muslim and anti-Israel groups based in southern California).”
If anyone has wondered why peace in the Middle East is no closer since the Oslo Accords were signed 14 years earlier in 1993, and why people are still dying, he or she need look no further than conferences like these that only serve one purpose: to roil the war
endlessly against Israel until the Jewish state ceases to exist, and to demoralize the American will and force a withdrawal from Iraq in favor of the terrorists from the PLO’s closest allies, the Ba’ath Party. The Al Awda press release describes the Al-Awda Program on campus as “an amazing three-day event from speakers and workshops, a youth program, to a Palestine Cultural Dinner Event.”
I’ve been to Al Awda workshops, and they are places where one can learn how to support the goals and desires of Hamas to eradicate Jews in the Middle East. Other workshops
plot strategy on how to effectively boycott Jews to hasten the destruction of Israel economically to aid those who want to do it at the point of a gun. Their last “cultural dinner event” I attended at SFSU wasn’t to celebrate creating a new national culture within the West Bank and Gaza, but to use artistic events to serve only to further their propaganda for the war of destruction against the Jews. This is what Al Awda is really all about, despite its veiled rhetoric.
I pointed out to Vice Chancellor Sandoval that the Al Awda website in its “Points of Unity” page clearly states that Al Awda “supports the struggle for the liberation of Palestine and views it as a struggle against all forms of colonialism.”
Israel is not a colony of any other country and the “liberation of Palestine” in lieu of a peace settlement recognizing two countries side by side is clearly a call for war and support for the position of Hamas.
The page also calls for “an end to all US political, military and economic aid to ‘Israel.’”
Quotation marks suggesting “Israel” is “Palestine” aside, the Arab League Boycott that
Al Awda is promoting is against US law as established by Congress. Why should a university like UCR promote violating US law? On a more human note, the Arab League Boycott and divestment program so touted by Al Awda and other ISM groups forces a third of Israel’s Jewish children and the elderly to go to bed hungry at night or dine in soup kitchens. For UC Riverside to lend its name as an academic institution and give a forum to any organization perpetuating this anti-Semitic behavior is an academic obscenity.