Monday, September 25, 2006

How Physically Close Have You Been to Blatant Anti-Semitism?

By Joe Example, the Concerned UCI Student

(Published originally in the first StandWithUs Orange County Newsletter, September 7, 2006)

Before I came to UC Irvine, I had only heard stories of in-your-face anti-Semitism from my family: while in the US army, my father was asked where his hooves and horns were. While visiting Germany during the 1930’s, my grand aunt – who happened to have blond hair and blue eyes – came across a bunch of brown shirts beating a Jew; she told them in perfect German to go you-know-what themselves.

But me – I had never seen it up close. That is, until I came to UCI.

UCI - in the top 12 American public universities according to a recent issue of US News and World Report. With enough smarts, time, and drive, just about anyone can earn a bachelor’s degree for less than $40,000 in tuition.

Don’t waste your time buying books and supplies, though, because the first person you’ll meet the moment you arrive on campus is the guy shown in the above photo.

This is Amir Abdel Malik Ali, frequently invited guest speaker for the UCI Muslim Student Union (“MSU”), and blatant anti-Semite. He loves to dish the ancient canards: the Jews control the government, the economy, and the media. He unequivocally supports HAMAS, Hezbollah, and the other terrorist organizations; he also supports Iran, Syria, and other state sponsors of terrorists. To him, Zionism is just a reincarnation of Nazism. And here’s one of his most recent messages to the Jews at UCI: “Your days are numbered.”

He’s not the only source of unchecked hatred on campus. The MSU itself publishes articles in the campus weekly newspaper, New University, as well as their own quarterly magazine, Alkalima. These articles have included discussions on how Jews might be genetically separate from the rest of the human race; Israel has been falsely accused of genocide and ethnic cleansing; quotations are fabricated and plastered everywhere with the sole goal of inciting hatred against Jews; and, scariest of all, calls are made for violent jihad against anyone who stands in their way.

In the face of similar anti-Semitism at Harvard, Georgetown, and Rutgers (to name a few), those university administrations made their condemnations of the bigotry of Jew-hatred very clear. Even the President of UC Berkeley was a signatory to a public statement decrying intimidation of Jews on college campuses in 2002.

The UCI administration, however, instead of educating their students by demonstrating true leadership, considers such unequivocal statements to be beneath them.

One event in particular speaks volumes: instead of standing up to the anti-Semitism on campus, Vice Chancellor Gomez was invited to speak at an anti- hate rally organized by the MSU and their partners-in-crime, the Society of Arab Students (“SAS”), where the only student organizations specifically dis-invited were – you guessed it – Jews. Even Jewish fraternities and sororities were banned from participating in any formal way. Vice Chancellor Gomez, well aware of this deliberate exclusion at an event that was supposed to stand for unity, chose to speak anyway. He has yet to publicly apologize for turning a blind eye.

UCI refuses to enforce any of its own rules when the violators are the MSU or SAS. For instance, as part of their annual registration as official UCI student organizations, the leaders of all student organizations, including the MSU and SAS, must each sign a pledge to uphold UCI’s Principles of Community – see page 4 of the linked PDF – a document which waxes and wanes about tolerance and respect, and states in particular “acts of bigotry and abusive behavior will not go unchallenged within the University”.

There are rules at UCI prohibiting fabrication of information both inside and outside the classroom (look at sections 102.01 and 102.02) as well as rules against harassing and threatening students, and serious violations of these rules are grounds for expulsion from the university. Yet the MSU and SAS are still in business and – you should sit down for this one – the former VP of the SAS was the student commencement speaker for the School of Social Sciences this past June.

With this in mind, I went to our community organizations and basically said “do something!” They stated that they could only privately write “stern” letters to the Chancellor or hold private meetings with the administration (ooh, I’m sure UCI was just quaking in its boots, getting chills up its spine, as it ran the letters through the shredder). Even though I pointed out that those actions had proven to be useless, they refused my request to take the appropriate next step – namely, bringing in the lawyers.

Luckily, an outside organization had the cojones to do what’s right: in October 2004, the Zionist Organization of America (“ZOA”) filed a civil rights complaint on the behalf of the Jewish students of UCI with the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”). After its investigation concludes, if OCR finds that UCI is violating the civil rights of Jewish students on campus, and should UCI not change its tune thoroughly or quickly enough, OCR has the option of pulling all US Federal funding of the university, which would in effect shut the university down (not that we want that). The OCR investigation continues even today and that pressure has affected the university’s conduct when dealing with sensitive subjects.

At the same time, a similar Federal body, the US Commission on Civil Rights (“USCCR”), separately investigated the situation on campus and – vindicating the ZOA’s complaint – found that things on campus had to change: UCI must protect Jewish students from anti-Semitic harassment and intimidation. While the USCCR does not have enforcement powers, its findings and recommendations do carry great weight and I would be shocked if the OCR completely ignored them.

While working with the ZOA, I also learned of StandWithUs. Their representatives are out there at the anti-Semitic events holding signs up challenging the espoused anti-Semitism. They help gather and distribute the information needed to debunk the falsehoods and propaganda that the anti-Israel activists use to poison the next generation’s minds, as well as train our local Pro-Israel students in conferences and leadership sessions. Alongside StandWithUs is the American Jewish Congress, both protesting the events here and working with our state and federal legislatures to make sure the future generation of American leadership is being taught the facts about the Middle East and Judaism and not the lies of the MSU and SAS.

Now I do have to admit that UCI has tried to deal with the situation through dialogue. They first attempted to reduce the level of persistent hostility against Jews on campus by holding a series of inter- religious forums in Fall Quarter 2004. When that failed to have any effect, they organized a year-long series of lectures and discussions called “Difficult Dialogues”, funded by a $100,000 grant from the Ford Foundation. If the level of hatred of the MSU and SAS wasn’t so intense, perhaps these steps would have done the trick.

Unfortunately, the MSU’s and SAS’s response has been to increase the intensity of their hatred. This past year, practically every week an anti-Israel speaker was a guest of the MSU. During May 2006, the campus was treated to “Holocaust in the Holy Land” week, where speakers called Israel “the Fourth Reich” and Muslim students, dressed in military fatigues, harassed passersby.

This is what I have to put up with every time I step on campus. This is why my grade point average isn’t as high as it should be, because I have to try to ignore the drech while I study for exams or write papers, when in reality it eats me up inside that I’m not out there on the front lines, fighting for Truth, Justice, and the American Way.

Take to heart one thing: this newly-formed group, the Orange County chapter of StandWithUs, is not going to stand by and let it happen. Unlike other organizations, we aren’t going to bury our heads in the sand or hold hands and sing koombya, keeping you in the dark about how bad it is.

We have been and will continue to be there protesting against the anti-Semitism. We have been and will continue to keep you accurately informed as to the real situation on campus (G-d willing, we might even bring you live video over the Internet someday). As you read this, we are organizing events to be held on and around campus to define the problems and then seek solutions to stop this mess once and for all.

So spread the word about StandWithUs Orange County. We can defeat this anti-Semitism - with your help and support, it might even happen before I graduate.

No comments: