The Right Opinion
UC Irvine Student Government Approves Anti-Israel Boycott
One of the most hostile campuses in the nation for Jewish students.
Even as missiles launched from Gaza are killing innocent Israelis, there is no rest for the anti-Semitic, Israel-bashers at the University of California, Irvine. On Tuesday night, the student senate passed a non-binding resolution requesting that the school divest from eight companies currently doing business with the Jewish State. In a unanimous 16-0 vote, the Associated Students-UC Irvine (ASUCI) targeted Caterpillar, Cement Roadstones Holding, Cemex, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, Raytheon, Sodastream, and L-3 Communications, as companies that "profit from Israel's occupation of Palestine." The resolution awaits the approval of UC Irvine student government's executive board, a body that would forward it to the school's administration. If both entities approve, UC-Irvine would be the first California campus to do so.
Given UC-Irvine's track record of anti-Semitism, such a "ground-breaking" move would doubtlessly thrill campus leftists, most notably UC-Irvine's Muslim Student Union (MSU). In an article for Commentary Magazine in 2010, Kenneth Marcus outlines that track record. "During the first years of the 21st century…on the campus of the University of California at Irvine, Jewish students were physically and verbally harassed, threatened, shoved, stalked, and targeted by rock-throwing groups and individuals," he writes. "Jewish property was defaced with swastikas, and a Holocaust memorial was vandalized. Signs were posted on campus showing a Star of David dripping with blood. Jews were chastised for arrogance by public speakers whose appearance at the institution was subsidized by the university. They were called 'dirty Jew' and 'f**king Jew,' told to 'go back to Russia' and 'burn in hell,' and heard other students and visitors to the campus urge one another to 'slaughter the Jews.'"
The MSU on campus has staged many anti-Israel events, including a large gathering every spring where some of the more virulent anti-Semites, including leaders of the Sabiqun movement, which advocates for the creation of a global Islamic state, bash Israel with impunity.
In May 2010, Imam Abdul Malik Ali, leader of a mosque in Oakland, compared Jews to Nazis, expressed support for Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, and called for the destruction of the "apartheid state of Israel." Ali's speech was part of the MSU-hosted program called "Israeli Apartheid Week: A Call to Boycott, Divest and Sanction," which included other anti-Israel speakers such as author Norman Finkelstein, who has made a career out of distorting the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; Alison Weir, who frames Israel as a violent aggressor, with the United States acting as its accomplice; and Hatem Bazian, president of the anti-Israel American Muslims for Palestine. This event was part of an effort to jumpstart the divestment process mentioned above.
In 2009, the MSU hosted a lectures series titled "Israel: The Politics of Genocide." Former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who supports anti-Semitic groups such as the Nation of Islam and the New Black Panther Party, and former British MP George Galloway, who told GQ magazine in 2006 that it would be "morally justified" for a suicide bomber to kill former British Prime Minister Tony Blair because of Britain's support for the Iraq war, were in attendance. Ali was also there, giving presentations during which he stated that "Zionists" are "the new Nazis" and "the party of Satan," and that "Zionism must be destroyed."
In 2008, the MSU hosted three separate bash-fests titled "Never Again? Palestinian Holocaust," "Gears of War: Blood, Oil and University," and "From Auschwitz to Gaza: The Politics of Genocide." Various speakers accused Israel of being a "hateful and expansionist militant nation state," bringing their "misery" and "hostility" from Europe to the Middle East, and engaging in "ethnic cleansing to get more of Palestine."
A video compilation of events occurring in 2008, gives one a good sense of the overt hostility generated by both speakers and students a UC-Irvine. It opens with Imam Muhammad Al-Asi, former prayer leader at the Islamic Center of Washington, accusing Israel of "crimes against humanity," and students chanting the slogan of Israel's destruction: "from the river to the sea Palestine will be free." It shows several testimonials by students, speaking about the regular harassment they receive for either being Jewish or daring to speak out against the prevailing "climate of fear perpetuated on campus," as one student put it.
In 2007, the MSU hosted "Israel: Apartheid Resurrected" and "Holocaust Memorial Week." During the former event, it was alleged that the U.S. knew about 9/11 in advance, and those who supported Israel were referred to as "Zio-Nazis." At the utterly misnamed latter event, Jews were accused of running and financing the slave trade.
Similar events go back as far as 2001. All of them present the common themes of Israel as the oppressor, and the United States as its eager collaborator, along with a "Zionist-controlled Western media" that distorts the truth.
One of the low points of anti-Jewish activity at UC-Irvine occurred in February 2010, when 11 students were arrested for repeatedly disrupting a speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren. In a classic use of the "heckler's veto," Oren was repeatedly assailed with modern-day blood libels, accusing him of being an accessory to genocide and ethnic cleansing, as he attempted to give a talk on the Middle East peace process. A video of the event reveals the coordinated effort of students to prevent Oren from speaking.
Leaked emails subsequently revealed that the MSU orchestrated the disruption. The 11 students were convicted of two misdemeanors, conspiracy and speech disruption. In June, the MSU was banned the for one year and placed on disciplinary probation for an additional year, beginning on September 1.
Yet on September 3, 2010, UC-Irvine officials relented, upholding the suspension for only four months, through Dec. 31. The MSU was also expected to complete 100 hours of community service and remain on probation through December 2012.
Vice Chancellor Manuel Gomez sent an email to students filled with typical leftist bromides. "This has been a difficult decision," it read. "But in the end, this process demonstrates the University of California Irvine's commitment to values, principles and tolerance. Although this has been a challenging experience for all involved, I am confident that we will continue to move forward as a stronger, more respectful university community."
Such a statement rings utterly hollow in light of a report by Front Page Magazine, revealing that UC-Irvine students, participating in a program known as the Olive Tree Initiative (OTI), met with Aziz Duwaik, a prominent leader of the terrorist organization Hamas, during a trip to the Middle East in 2009. Tellingly, the students were reportedly told to keep the trip a secret. In 2011, a Freedom of Information Act filing unearthed a letter addressed to UC-Irvine Chancellor Michael V. Drake demanding an investigation, yet the letter itself was dated October 8, 2009. If an investigation occurred, it wasn't publicized.
As this latest episode at UC Irvine has demonstrated, on leftist-dominated college campuses across the nation, virulent anti-Semitism has been legitimized and is accepted to an astounding degree. Just imagine if a college student group invited a series of speakers to discussing topics even remotely offensive to ethnic minorities or gay students. There is no doubt that the campus left and administration officials would vocally oppose such programming. Yet Jewish students are routinely exposed to an atmosphere where their religious symbols, the Jewish homeland and much more are heinously mocked and degraded by their fellow students.
UC-Irvine student Sabreen Shalabi, a co-author of the boycott legislation, was proud of her handiwork. "Our work today stands tall in the noble tradition of students advocating for justice, joining the ranks of those brave and visionary students who demanded that our Universities divest from the terrible crimes of South African apartheid," she said. No, it doesn't. It is nothing more than an expression of anti-Semitism being purported as something noble. Despicable is more like it.
Arnold Ahlert is a columnist for FrontPage Magazine.