May 31, 2006
See also: SlanderWithUS.
By Ashraf Khalil, Times Staff Writer
UC Irvine has emerged as an unlikely flashpoint in the national Israeli-Arab debate.
The campus’ Muslim Student Union has drawn harsh criticism for last week’s “Holocaust in the Holy Land” programs. Events included a speech titled “Israel: the 4th Reich” and the construction of a mock Israeli security wall with students dressed as Israeli army officers conducting aggressive checkpoint searches.
The events at the public quad prompted a strong reaction from members of Jewish groups, who called it highly offensive to equate Israel with Nazi Germany.
These clashes have been the latest in years of tension, mistrust and back-and-forth accusations between activist Muslim and Jewish students at UC Irvine.
In 2003, a memorial to Holocaust victims was vandalized. The next year, an antiZionism mural erected by the Society of Arab Students was burned down. No arrests were made in either case.
Then, a group of Muslim students made headlines with their plan to wear graduation stoles of green — a traditional color of Islamic identity — as a show of Islamic unity. Jewish groups on and off campus decried them as a show of support for Hamas, a militant Palestinian group responsible for dozens of suicide bombings in Israel, which also uses green as its signature color.
At the heart of the UC Irvine issue is a fundamental question: Can one be aggressively opposed to the policies and even the existence of Israel without being anti-Semitic?
Muslim Student Union leaders say yes; Jewish activists on and off campus say they aren’t so sure.
“Being against the existence of Israel does begin to push that line,” said Alex Chazen, president of Anteaters for Israel, a Jewish student group that takes its name from the university’s mascot.
If so, it’s a line that the Muslim Student Union seems determined to cross — to the continuing outrage of Jewish groups.
“The apartheid state of Israel is on the way down. They are living in fear … and it is about time they live in fear,” said Amir Abdel Malik Ali, an Oakland-based Islamic activist, during a May 15 speech on the campus quad. “The truth of the matter is: Your days are numbered. We will fight you until we are martyred or until we are victorious.”
UC Irvine is not the only campus in the nation dealing with the issue, but some leaders on both sides of the debate say the mood on the Orange County campus has been particularly intense.
“Irvine sticks out as one of the most radical campuses in the country,” said Roz Rothstein, national director of Stand With Us, a pro-Israel group that protested last week’s events at UC Irvine.
“The [Muslim Student Union] keeps bringing the most radical, fringe speakers they can find,” she said. “I’m not saying it’s anti-Semitism. They have a right to say whatever they want to say. I just wonder why they’re saying it.”
Edina Lekovic, communications director for the Muslim Public Affairs Council, said she too was concerned about the lack of constructive discussion. “There’s no dialogue; there’s no interaction,” Lekovic said. “Both sides are just throwing rocks.”
Community leaders estimate the number of Muslim students at 1,000 and the number of Jewish students at 800 at the 24,000-student UC Irvine campus.
Jewish student leaders said that the university’s administration has selectively applied its free-speech ethos.
Last year, the Zionist Organization of America filed a federal civil rights complaint with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, claiming the administration was “overwhelmingly silent” and the on-campus atmosphere was “hateful, hostile and threatening” to Jewish students. The federal investigation is ongoing.
“Jewish students don’t feel supported. It’s frustrating when you feel you don’t have the backing of your own administration,” said Merav Ceren, a former president of Anteaters for Israel.
Caught in the middle is the UC Irvine administration, which has organized several abortive mediation efforts and defended the students’ rights to free speech under steady pressure to publicly condemn the Muslim Student Union.
“We’ve been trying to remain neutral on this,” said Sally Peterson, dean of students. “Everyone wants us to take a side.”
Kareem Elsayed, a spokesman for the campus Muslim Student Union, acknowledged that he and his fellow union leaders knew that using “holocaust” would probably be incendiary.
“That’s why we’re using that word, because it does conjure up bad memories,” he said. “We want to point out that the oppressed have become the oppressor.”
The new willingness to use provocative, confrontational language, Elsayed said, was party generational.
Many of the activist students at the university are the children of immigrants who never fully connected with the American political process or public discourse, he said. The immigrant generation often feared persecution in America, he said, after bringing with them emotional baggage from their homelands, where overt political activism could be dangerous.
But the second Palestinian Intifada, which started in 2000, and the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks have sparked a new activist spirit among young American-raised Muslims, many have said.
“This new generation speaks the language, knows our rights and knows American culture,” said Elsayed, a fifth-year student and son of Egyptian immigrants. “Unlike our parents, we’re not living with one foot here and one foot in the home country.”
Muslim Student Union leaders acknowledged that they have been pushing the envelope, but said that those boundaries have been warped by decades of pressure from pro-Israeli lobbying groups. The effect, they said, has been to make almost any criticism of Israeli policies or Zionist ideology off-limits.
Ali and other regular Muslim Student Union speakers said they were careful to toe a specific line. The enemy is not Jews or Judaism; it’s the “Zionist Jews,” Zionism as a philosophy and most definitely the state of Israel. To help further that distinction, the Muslim Student Union has featured several Jewish opponents of Israel.
The recent events featured DePaul University professor Norman Finkelstein, author of “The Holocaust Industry,” and Rabbi David Weiss, an orthodox Jew who, for esoteric philosophical reasons, is an anti-Zionist opposed to the existence of Israel.
The rhetoric also takes aim at Arab leaders such as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the Saudi royal family — both of whom are described as dictatorial American puppets.
In the background of the UC Irvine controversies is a growing intra-Muslim debate about tactics and strategy. Tellingly, many off-campus Muslim activists expressed reservations about the Irvine Muslim Student Union’s approach and choice of speakers, but also tended to write it off as the impetuousness of youth.
“If you haven’t been through a bit of radicalism in college, you’ve missed out,” said Hussam Ayloush, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “They’re very harmless, nonviolent kids, but they’re very vocal.”
Still, some local Muslim leaders quietly acknowledged that they were no fans of Ali or his growing influence on local campuses. Ayloush questioned the wisdom of the Muslim Student Union deliberately provoking Jewish students by using “holocaust” or Nazi references.
“I wouldn’t have chosen those titles. But would I describe them as anti-Semitic? No,” Ayloush said. “That wouldn’t work out in real life. It would backfire. You wouldn’t even get Muslim attendance.”
Copyright © 2006, The Los Angeles Times
When the Muslim Student Union at the University of California at Irvine planned last week’s “Holocaust in the Holy Land” event (some representative video excerpts can be seen here), four days of anti-Israel agitation aimed at portraying the Jewish State as the modern avatar of Nazi Germany, it settled on the obvious choice for a keynote speaker: Norman Finkelstein.
In a cast of Israel slanderers, including Jews such as the ultra-Orthodox Rabbi David Weiss, Finkelstein was the main attraction. It’s not hard to see why. Finkelstein’s resume would warm the hearts of Israel’s most fanatical enemies. The professor of political science at Chicago’s DePaul University is a self-proclaimed Holocaust expert and, not unrelatedly, a veritable celebrity among Holocaust deniers. Being the son of Holocaust survivors hasn’t made this Jewish academic sympathetic to the six million Jews exterminated by the Nazis. In fact, Finkelstein believes that most Holocaust survivors are bogus and that “by hammering on the uniqueness of the Holocaust and the exclusive link between Holocaust and Jews, the Holocaust industry has become the main promoter of antisemitism.” When is it appropriate to bring up the Holocaust? Only when it serves the purpose of bashing Israel. Finkelstein explained back in 2002 how easy it would be to put an end to the Nazi analogies to Israel, a propaganda tactic popularized by Finkelstein himself: “If Israelis don’t want to stand accused of being Nazis they should simply stop acting like Nazis.”
Finkelstein thus felt right at home at the annual Israel-bashing event at UC Irvine, a hotbed of anti-Israel activism. The Crystal Cove Auditorium where he delivered his remarks was at its maximum capacity, thanks in large part to the Muslim students who just weeks ago were at the same location protesting the College Republicans’ showing the now-famous cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. Less controversial to them was the decision to use provocative titles like “Israel: The Fourth Reich” for the week’s events. So long as it is confined to vilifying Israel, Muslim activists are staunch champions of free speech.
On this score Finkelstein did not disappoint. He began his speech, titled “Obstacles to Peace: Israelis or Palestinians”, on the very subject of controversy. His thesis was that the Israel-Palestine conflict is not “controversial at all.” But the professor wasn’t referring to such uncontroversial matters as the need for Hamas to renounce all terrorism and recognize the right of Israel to exist before peace can be made. Rather, he meant that Israel, the lone democracy in the region, and a country to which many Palestinians are eager to immigrate, was the world’s greatest human rights violator. Probably this line of thinking was not controversial to the MSU student sitting in the front row and wearing an “Intifada” T-shirt. Among a less obsequious crowd it certainly would have been a subject for debate.
But Finkelstein was not interested in debate. Indeed, throughout the night Finkelstein seemed to take it for granted that his views would go unchallenged. He often used the first-person plural when addressing the audience, declaring that the United Nations and Human Rights Organizations “are on our side.” Since the facts clearly weren’t on his side, Finkelstein opted to obscure them. Hence he denied that Palestinians became refugees in 1948 after being told by Arab leaders to flee to neighboring states until their advancing armies destroyed Israel. Such denials, a common feature of Arab propaganda, are supported by not a shred of evidence. On the other hand, evidence attesting to the Arab policy, including Arab sources, is overwhelming. Yet Finkelstein, making no concession to the historical record, claimed that “most historians now concur” that 1948 was an “ethnic cleansing” by Israel. As his source for this, as well as other spurious claims he made throughout the night, Finkelstein cited the Israeli historian Benny Morris. But Morris has called Finkelstein “more of a pro-Palestinian propagandist than a serious scholar.” Finkelstein of course declined to mention that inconvenient detail.
Instead, Finkelstein presented himself as a brave professor speaking truth to power. About two hours into his rambling speech, Finkelstein was informed that he’d have to wrap up his remarks. He refused. After glancing at the several police officers standing at the exits, he explained that while he is a “great believer in the rule of law,” he didn’t approve of the “arbitrary rule of law.” He would continue speaking. Yet the professor’s defiance was less courageous than he may have supposed. UC Irvine would never pull the plug on an Muslim Student event and run the risk of being labeled “racist.” The same spirit of appeasement was evident a few months ago, when the college police were hesitant to remove a Muslim heckler from the audience during the College Republicans’ event.
Finkelstein dismissed the prevalence of such political correctness. American universities are so politically correct, he said, that they can’t be “anti-anything.” At the same time, he took advantage of one of the key provisions of the PC climate whose existence he denies: the freedom to attack with impunity unfashionable groups like Jews. Thus Finkelstein waved aside the notion that anti-Semitism is prevalent on campus as “preposterous.” Before accepting the validity of this assertion, one should be aware that Finkelstein also made the claim that there is no evidence of new anti-Semitism in Europe. In fact, he stated that the evidence shows a decline in European anti-Semitism since 1991. Maybe Finkelstein doesn’t realize that countries such as France and England are part of Europe, or that the European Union doesn’t like to publicize its anti-Semitism reports.
The fact is that Finkelstein can’t recognize anti-Semitism whether it is staring him in the face or coming straight from his mouth. Shamelessly, in front of an MSU organization that uses the word “Holocaust” to characterize Israel’s national defense, Finkelstein criticized what he called the “Holocaust uniqueness” argument used by Jews to justify Israel’s actions and deflect attention from its human rights violations. He said that Jews were guilty of the “dragging in of the Holocaust” whenever Israel comes under international pressure. Finkelstein, who dismisses the suffering of the six million Jews who died during the Holocaust, didn’t feel compelled to mention Hamas’ desire to drive the Jews into the sea. His only concern with regards to Hamas was exposing the “hypocrisy” of demanding the terrorist group to recognize Israel’s right to exist. In Finkelstein’s mind, Israel betrays the ideals of democracy until it embraces the terrorist group intent on destroying it. Finkelstein ended the night by making the ludicrous claim that he can think of no other place in the world that has less anti-Semitism than Palestine. Perhaps if Finkelstein had stopped denouncing Israel long enough to turn on the television or visit a school on one his many trips to the region he would have had a more informed perspective.
Finkelstein probably also missed any signs of anti-Semitism on the UC Irvine campus. But it is real enough. Because Jewish students at the university have been physically threatened and are afraid to wear clothing or jewelry identifying them as Jewish, UC Irvine has become the first American college to be the subject of an anti-Semitism probe by the U.S. Office for Civil Rights. Finkelstein’s host, the Muslim Student Union, has always been unambiguous about its anti-Semitism, even though it does its best to avoid using the word “Jew” when attacking Jews who live in Israel or Jews who support Israel’s right to exist. “Israelis Love to Kill Innocent Children” was written on a sign posted on campus by the MSU in 2002. Also in 2002, the MSU sponsored a speech by the radical Oakland imam, Abdel Malik Ali, in the course of which he revealed his plan for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: “Israel wants Palestinians to have their own state. It’s beyond that now. No. That’s off the table. One state. Majority rules. Us. The Muslims.”
Last week’s events at UC Irvine provided more evidence that the anti-Semitism probe is justified. Next to the mock Israeli “apartheid” wall set up in the center of campus on Tuesday, MSU students wearing leather sandals and taqiyahs passed out papers with the title “Exploiting the Holocaust to Justify Genocide.” A quote from Finkelstein himself could be found just below: “The Holocaust has become the ideological justification for the oppression of the Palestinian people.” Justifications for terrorism, such as blowing up teenagers at pizzerias, could be found on the “For Justice We Fight” pamphlet published by Alkalima, the Muslim magazine at UC Irvine. Targeting innocent civilians is justified, according to the magazine, because “the individual or community that participates in jihad finds itself between two blissful outcomes, either victory and the establishment of justice, or the reward of martyrdom and Paradise.”
In the Jewish Finkelstein, these budding jihadists have found their useful idiot.
A Report on “Holocaust in the Holyland” at UC Irvine
by Allyson Rowen Taylor
I am the Associate Director of the American Jewish Congress in Los Angeles. I spent three days at UC Irvine to witness the hate speech and gross misrepresentations of Jews, Israeli’s Americans and Zionists at the “Holocaust in the Holyland week. I listened to the horrific lies of Norman Finkelstein under the guise of him being historian. I heard Malik Ali talk about extermination of Jews in Israel, short of saying kill, he used terms like “eliminate” when discussing Israel. I was followed by the campus police, and watched by the administration, so that I could not openly talk out, or disagee with a blatant lies made about history, or Jews. At the end of Malik Ali’s hate speech, I finally had enough, and trying to get him to publically say it was about “the Jews” and not “those people” I was shouted down by repeated “Allah Akbars” and laughter.
I understood that day,standing alone what it felt like to be a Jew in pre-war Germany. I understood how fearful the hostages in Iran must have felt when the US Embassy was taken over. I felt the pain of the Jews, who were expelled from their homes in the Middle East, and the suffering they must have felt under Sharia laws which eventually drove them from their lives and their history. And I understand the double standards that occur when it comes to the UCI administration in taking a postion to facilitate peaceful diaglogue. I witnessed the supression of my freedom of speech for three days, until the very end when I could no longer stay silent. I listened to three long tedious hours of Norman Finkelstein, who mocks the Holocaust Business, however has made a living on …guess what, The Holocaust business! His denial of the true implications of mass murder committed by the Nazi’s is overshadowed by his hatred of being a Jew himself.
I heard about “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide” however, no one could answer why the Palestinian population has quadrupled since 1948. I heard statements like “Zionism is not Judaism” by “Rabbi’s” from Nutrei Karta who get paid to say what they do by the Saudi government after the death of their buddy Yassar Arafat. They recently met with Iran’s leader (go to http://www.memri.org/ to see the clip) and called for the end to the Jewish State and Zionism. Just think, the MSU found a “sect” of Jews who number about 2000 more or less, to speak the “truth” for over 15,000,000 people. There will always be useful idiots to speak for the enemy, and the MSU has found a coterie that they parade around from campus to campus, with the same tired speechs from last year. In fact, I can even quote Finkelstein’s speech verbatum. You would think that for the $5,000.00 fee , hotel, food and airfare, that Norman could at least come up with another speeech, leaving out the “Ma, I found it I found it” lines in reference to his finding flaws with Joan Peters book “In Time Immorial”. This speech is neither cute or funny. It is just feeding fuel to a crowd thirsty to hear a Jew talking about Jews in ways which they cannot.
As for Malik Ali, I just wonder what the University would do, if I substituted the words “Jew” and “Zionist” for “black” and “colored”. I would be attacked, called a racist, and the NAACP and ACLU would be all over me. However, it is “de riguer” to say outwardly things about Jews that were once said in private. I find the use of the freedoms of a democracy based on Judeo Christian values to perpetrate hatred under the guise of freedom… absurd.
I was with an associate and after I was escorted from the area behind the “apartheid wall” to sing with the supporters of Israel, we chatted with one of the campus police. My friend asked if this was a rough event to cover, as it was contentious and very hostile. The campus officer said, “Protecting the MSU is easier than than the Campus Republicans”. How very sad. Conservatives on this campus are treated with more hatred than students who wear Kyffia’s and support Iran and it’s daily calls to eliminate not only Israel, but the United States of America. I wonder who these student’s loyalty belongs to. Iran? Syria? North Korea? Is this the new radical chic?
I am saddened not only by the lack of historical context, education and truth that these students have especially in light of their being students at a very prestigious university. I am saddened by the loss of innocence, the lack of respect, and the fall, as they say, of western civilization.
I hold the administration of this University responsible, especially Manuel Gomez, Sally Peterson and the new Chancellor. After repeated attempts to make our position heard, clearly it was just a token to listen to us, appeasement, and a lack of respect for Jews and Israeli’s worldwide. Their lack of actions spoke louder than the amplified “Allah Akbars” and their support of hate is something I never learned in History 101. Shame on the University, and shame on the parents and religious centers that preach hate and death. And to top this off, we get to see the Green HAMAS shehada scarfs all over again at graduation. I guess after all these years, we have truly neither made any movement towards peace, reconcillation, and respect for others who may not share the same values. This is truly very very sad.
Allyson Rowen Taylor, Associate Director, American Jewish Congress, Western Region
05.16.2006 | FrontPageMagazine.com
Some recent news items about Jews aiding enemies of the Jews:
Last week, professor Noam Chomsky went to Lebanon to speak at the headquarters of Hezbollah. As described by the BBC, not a media friend of Israel, “Hezbollah’s political rhetoric has centered on calls for the destruction of the state of Israel,” and Hezbollah has been “synonymous with terror, suicide bombings and kidnappings.” The terror group’s views on the need to annihilate the Jewish state are identical to those of Hamas and Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Chomsky announced his support for Hezbollah and its need to be militarily strong.
Also last week, an ultra-Orthodox rabbi from Vienna, a member of a Jewish sect called Neturei Karta, went to Stockholm to meet with a Palestinian Hamas official to help raise funds for Hamas. Hamas is, of course, dedicated to annihilating Israel, as is Neturei Karta, an Orthodox Jewish fringe group that believes no Jewish state should exist unless founded by God. It therefore supports Palestinian and other Muslim groups that murder Jews in Israel.
In March, a group of five Neturei Karta rabbis from Britain and the United States went to Tehran to lend their support to the Iranian regime in its calls for the annihilation of Israel. The group said nothing about the Iranian regime’s repeated denials that there was a Holocaust.
This week, the University of California at Irvine Muslim Student Union is sponsoring a series of lectures under the heading, “Holocaust in the Holy Land” and “Israel: The Fourth Reich.” Featuring activists committed to Israel’s destruction, its lead speaker is a Jew named Norman Finkelstein, a professor who devotes his life to attacking Jewish communities and Israel. Also appearing is Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss from the above-mentioned Neturei Karta.
Tony Judt, a widely published New York University professor, recently wrote that “Israel, in short, is an anachronism,” and should therefore cease to exist. The Jews of Israel should live under Arab/Muslim rule. Note that of all the countries of the world, Judt — who the Jewish newspaper The Forward identified as “raised in the heavily Jewish East End section of London by a mother whose parents had immigrated from Russia and a Belgian father who descended from a line of Lithuanian rabbis” — has advocated the disappearance of one country, the Jewish one. Why, for example, does Judt not write that Pakistan, a Muslim state carved out of India, is an “anachronism”?
Jews siding with the Jews’ enemies or even actually fomenting Jew-hatred has a history that long predates Chomsky, Finkelstein, leftist Jewish professors and the Neturei Karta. Karl Marx, though baptized a Christian, was the grandson of two Orthodox rabbis but wrote one of the most anti-Semitic tracts of the 19th century, “On the Jewish Question.” In it he wrote, among other anti-Semitic charges, that “Money is the jealous god of Israel, beside which no other god may exist.”
How is one to explain these Jews who work to hurt Jews?
I think the primary explanations are psychological. As I wrote in a previous column, it is almost impossible to overstate the pathological effects of thousands of years of murder of Jews — culminating in the Nazi Holocaust, when nearly all Jews on the European continent were murdered — have had on most Jews.
It is not coincidental that Norman Finkelstein’s parents went through the Holocaust or that Yisroel Dovid Weiss’s grandparents were murdered in the Holocaust. But even Jews who lost no relatives in the Holocaust fear another outbreak of anti-Jewish violence, and given the Nazi-like anti-Semitism in the Muslim world today, that is not exactly paranoia.
One way to deal with this is to side with the enemy. Consciously or not, the Jew who sides with those dedicated to murdering Jews feels that he will be spared. He becomes the “good Jew” in the anti-Semites’ eyes. How else to explain the visit of a Jew named Noam Chomsky to Lebanon to support Hezbollah or the fact that Chomsky wrote the foreword to a French book denying the Holocaust? How else to explain Norman Finkelstein telling cheering German audiences that the Jewish state is morally the same as the Nazis? How else to explain rabbis visiting Tehran to extol the Holocaust-denying regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran that seeks to exterminate Israel?
The other psychological explanation is related. The Jew — specifically the radical Jew — who sympathizes with Jew-haters wishes to announce to the world that he is not really like other Jews. While the other Jews are moored in provincial Jewish ethnic or religious identity, he is a world citizen who no more identifies with the Jews’ fate than with the fate of Iroquois Indians.
The prevalence of Jew-hating Jews would be no more than an interesting study of psychopathology were it not for one additional fact: All these Jews (except for the fringe Neturei Karta rabbis) also hate America. And they do the same damage to this country — aiding the enemies of America just as they do the enemies of the Jews.
NGF comments: For the record I want to clarify several points.
“How else to explain Norman Finkelstein telling cheering German audiences that the Jewish state is morally the same as the Nazis? How else to explain Norman Finkelstein telling cheering German audiences that the Jewish state is morally the same as the Nazis?”
This is also sheer fabrication. The Forward once made a similar claim but, after being presented with videos of all my speeches in Germany, editor J.J. Goldberg printed a full retraction on the front page.