It is a well-chronicled fact that modern academia is no friend of Israel. Even in this generally hostile environment, however, the University of California at Irvine stands in a class of its own.
Witness the school’s tradition of allowing the campus chapter of Muslim Student Union (MSU) to hold events whose sole aim is to denounce Israel and America, while supporting Islamic terrorist groups. Past events hosted in this mold have been titled “Hamas: the People’s Choice” and “Israel: The 4th Reich,” and have featured far-left demagogues like professors Norman Finkelstein and Ward Churchill, as well as Amir-Abdel Malik-Ali, a black imam notorious for his anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and his open championing of Hamas and Hezbollah.
This year is no exception. From May 7 to May 15, the MSU will host a series of programs that will demonize Israel as a Nazi state. Titled “Never Again? The Palestinian Holocaust,” this year’s hate-fest will include speakers like Imam Amir Abdel Malik Ali and Norman Finkelstein. If past experience is any guide, this year’s event will be give Israel’s enemies much to cheer about.
A review of the scheduled speakers bears out this impression. Among them, for instance, is Amir Abdel Malik Ali. A regular speaker at UCI, he has in the past informed Muslim students that a martyr’s death is the most honorable death. In May of 2007, to chants of “Allah Akbar!” from the Muslim Student Union, he shouted: “[W]e will not stop until we are either victorious or until we are martyred!” Not surprisingly, Ali will be delivering the keynote address at this year’s event.
The Muslim Student Union also will be hosting Norman Finkelstein, the DePaul University professor who was denied tenure for “furnishing deliberately hurtful” scholarship in June 2007. DePaul University President Rev. Dennis Holtschneider maintained that not only did Finkelstein engage in inflammatory ad hominem attacks against fellow scholars, but he neglected his perfunctory academic duties by investing more time in his dogmatic advocacy – not least his attacks on Israel – than on responsible scholarship.
For example, in his 2000 book The Holocaust Industry, Finkelstein claims that “Jewish elites” have exploited this genocidal tragedy for political and economic gain. Among other charming allegations, Finkelstein derides Holocaust survivor and humanitarian Elie Wiesel as a “resident clown” and a shake-down artist who invokes phony tales of atrocity to serve the strategic interests of the United States and Israel.
In December of 2006, Alan Dershowitz reported that Finkelstein was among those scheduled to speak at Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust Denial Conference along with former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke. Though Finklestein’s name was mysteriously moved from the online programming schedule, his association with neo-fascists and extremists comes as no surprise.
Finkelstein also is a vocal supporter of Hezbollah. In February 2008, in an interview with MEMRI TV, Finkelstein stated that he respected Hezbollah’s resistance to “foreign occupiers”, and he was happy to express his solidarity with the terror group. “They showed courage, discipline, I respect that.” In the same interview, Finkelstein also asserted that those Arabs who prefer more normal relations with America and Israel have “no self-respect.” As if to demonstrate the depth of his commitment to Hezbollah’s terrorist cause, this January he met with top Hezbollah commanders in Lebanon.
Another speaker worthy of note is Muhammed Al-Asi, a radical cleric banned from the Islamic Center in Washington D.C. in 1983 by his Saudi dominated board of directors for advancing a radical, pro-Iranian agenda. Al-Asi too has praised suicide bombers and is a Holocaust denier to boot. According to the Washington Post, the U.S. government has taken close surveillance of Al-Asi through court-approved wiretaps as he has traveled to Iran to meet with high-ranking hardline clerics.
Al-Asi also never hesitates to express his condemnation of Israel and Jews. In a speech earlier this year to students at UC Irvine, he derided Israel’s security barriers as analogous to Jews locking themselves in their man-made ghettos. In a curious attempt at dodging charges of anti-Semitism, he expressed his disdain for what he describes as the “political Jew,” comparing American Jews in government to rats hiding away from light.
The festivities will also include Anna Baltzer, an American activist and volunteer for the International Women’s forum. Baltzer’s stock in trade is presenting photographs from her trips to West Bank and Gaza, all of which are intended to portray Israel as the aggressor. In what amounts to a clear endorsement of terrorism, Baltzer has said that the employment of violent tactics against Israelis is analogous to Martin Luther King’s leadership during the Civil Rights Movement. For Baltzer, as for Hamas suicide bombers, terrorism is the only means to Palestinian liberation; diplomacy is impractical and idealistic.
The MSU has madeits position regarding Israel and America abundantly clear. And it is not only the group’s events that betray its pro-terror prejudices: MSU members literally wear their hate on their sleeve. Thus, MSU members wear clothing bearing slogans like “Freedom Fighter,” a clear reference to the terrorists’ preferred designation. Following the fashion of suicide bombers, they sport green stole emblazoned with the Arabic word “shahada,” a declaration of Islamic faith that some have interpreted as a extolling the virtues of dying a martyr’s (read: terrorist’s) death. In the past, the MSU also has voiced support for terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.
Although the MSU defends its events on the ground of “free speech,” the group has shown itself to be intolerant of debate and criticism. Following MSU gatherings at which imams predict the destruction of the “Zionist Jews,” many students at UCI have been confronted with spray-painted swastikas, hate-mail, strange phone calls, jeering and cursing. In some cases, students have even been kicked out of public events for videotaping or have had cameras shoved in their faces.
This year, however, the MSU may not get away with its bullying of the campus. The David Horowitz Freedom Center is working with students at UCI in order to counteract the negative and hateful messages being pushed forward by the MSU this May. On May 8, the center and the UCI chapter of the Zionist Organization of America, a pro-Israel group, will host a documentary screening of “The Suicide Killers” at the UCI student center. After the screening, Egyptian-born author Nonie Darwish, the author of Now they Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel and the War on Terror, will take part in a discussion about the Islam and the poisonous culture of hatred in the Middle-East. The following week, on May 13, David Horowitz will deliver a talk about the Muslim Student Association. Horowitz’s talk, “Campus Supporters of Genocide,” will focus on the history and politics of radical campus groups like the MSA.
This month, the David Horowitz Freedom Center also will be asking the MSU to sign the “Declaration Against Genocide.” This petition calls on student governments and campus Muslim groups to repudiate the sections of the Hadith, the sayings of the Prophet Mohammed, which call for Muslims to massacre Jews. As well, the petition urges these groups to condemn the Hamas charter, which calls for the destruction of Israel, and to deplore Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s threat to wipe Israel and America off the face of the earth.
Seemingly a harmless religious club, the MSA is in fact nothing of the kind. Under the mask of multicultural solidarity, it promotes a despicable ideology – radical Islam – that is a clear and present danger to the security of the country. Worse, it receives student funding to do so. The sooner Americans realize that, the sooner they will understand that the MSU does not promote religious harmony. It provides political aid and comfort to the enemy.