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Monday, February 8, 2010

Israeli Ambassador at UC Irvine


The following blog post is from garyfouse.blogspot.com


There were several hundred people in the audience, most of whom were from the local Jewish community. They were mostly older folks. The speech was sponsored by the local Jewish Federation, Hillel and several other organizations. As expected the Muslim Student Union also showed up. It was obvious even before the start of the speech that they were going to stage some sort of protest. Half of them sat on the left and half on the right.

A few moments into Ambassador Oren's speech, an MSU protester stood up and began shouting insults at the ambassador. He was removed by campus police. And so it continued. After the first interruption, the moderator, a UCI political science professor, took the microphone to admonish the disruptors. Yet, it did not stop. After about the 5th such disruption and removal, the ambassador left the room and Chancellor Michael Drake addressed the audience pleading for civility.

When the ambassador returned, the disruptions continued. Each time, a protester was removed, the audience become increasingly angry and voiced their displeasure at the disruptors. They also voiced their displeasure at Chancellor Drake and demanded to know what was going to be done to the disrupting students. (Of course, at this point, there is a question as to whether the disruptors were actually students who could be disciplined.) The audience was clearly not pleased with Chancellor Drake's pleas for civility. Cries of "what are you going to do about it?" were heard in the audience.


After the 10th such interruption, the MSU got up as a group and left the hall, screaming insults at the ambassador, who nevertheless managed to complete his speech as the MSU gathered out on the street outside and continued their protest, their chants barely audible inside the hall. The disruptions and delays precluded any hope of having a Q&A, which was the original plan.

Here is my reaction to the speech. First of all, the performance of the Muslim Student Union was despicable. To disrupt a speech by an ambassador of any nation is a diplomatic incident in and of itself. That this happened on the UCI campus is a major embarrassment for the university. One can only hope that criminal charges will be filed, which I understand will be the case. If any of the individual protesters are UCI students, I can only hope they will be expelled. (Don't hold your breath.)

Secondly, the Muslim Student Union not only did a disservice to their (pro-Palestinian) cause, but they did a disservice to themselves as Muslims. What they projected to the audience was not only that they did not respect free speech, but they projected a negative image of themselves as Muslims. In that respect, they did a disservice to those Muslims who are trying to live peacefully and assimilate into American society. This bunch, however, sent a message that they are apart from American society.

In addition, they refused to accord the right of free speech and the right of the audience to hear a message because they don't like it. I have been attending MSU-sponsored events for several years now at UCI and listened to a lot of hate speech-words that Ambassador Oren never engaged in. I have never interrupted or disrupted a speech no matter how offensive it was, nor have I witnessed anyone else do so. If the MSU had differences with the Israeli ambassador, they could have asked him their questions during the Q&A, as I always do. Instead, they acted like barbarians and cemented an unfortunate stereotype that hurts all Muslims. (As I write, the OC Register on-line report is burning up with comments, and they are not very complimentary to the protestors.)

Perhaps, the biggest mistake the MSU committed was showing a local audience that there really IS a problem at UCI, in spite of all the denials by the administration and unfortunately, even some Jewish groups like the local Orange County Jewish Federation, who sponsored the event. The audience members will take this experience home and tell others what is really going on at UCI. Tonight, the truth came out.
 
-Repost from garyfouse.blogspot.com

My own thoughts? I agree with the portions of Mr. Fouse's article that I have highlighted. Free speech does not mean screaming at the top of your lungs to prevent someone else from having the same right. These protesters could have staged a peaceful protest outside and handed out informational pamphlets to demonstrate their viewpoint.

Yes, there is a lot of suffering among the Palestinians, but heckeling a speaker from Israel is not the way to help them. Go give to a charity that provides education and humanitarian aid instead.

If the MSU had a pro-Palestinian speaker come to the school, I doubt that Hillel would have reacted so venomously.

41 comments:

Sara said...

MMMMMMMMMMMM... I dont think Muslims are the type to sit back and stay quiet for the sake of "freedom of speech".. Its just not the way muslims are. Call it un civilised or watever but thats the reaction you would expect from anyone when they are angry. Were expected to stay silent all the time. and when we speak up its called "uncivilized manner". They have no Humanitary in Israel so what do they expect?

Stephanie said...

I say good for them.

NoortheNinjabi said...

There's definitely a better way to go about voicing dissension. Allowing a q&a and speaking at that time would have been a much better idea and could have opened the doors to dialogue. It's a shame they lost control.

Banana Anne said...

I know that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a huge deal, and many Muslims (myself included) are very upset about the treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli government and military. However, under no circumstances are Muslims to forget their adab (proper manners); even though they were angry, they acted in a way that was very immature (interrupting the speaker, disrupting the audience, hurling insults, forcing the q and a session to be cancelled because of their behavior) and not at all representative of how Muslims should act. I probably would have gotten upset listening to what the ambassador said, but I would have also kept my anger to myself. I'm not sure of the exact wording, but there are definitely a few hadiths that tell people that they must control their anger, and that this is a sign of true strength (this doesn't mean being passive and not willing to fight for the cause, but it means doing it rationally and with a calm head, doing it for the sake of ALLAH and not because of any personal prejudices).

Candice said...

I agree with you Stacy, and with Banana Anne on this. There are better ways to deal with their disagreement, no matter how angry they are. (anger is probably the worst way to deal with this, actually)

Waiting for Q and A to bring up their issues, printing pamphlets to hand out, organizing demonstrations, writing articles, holding conferences/speeches of their own, etc. are all ways to get their message across.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@Candice, Exactly. I think that handing out pamphlets as people walked in to hear the speaker would have been great. The could have even put questions on there that audience members could ask at the end. I'm sure that all the people who came to see him were not 100% in support of Israel's actions.

KMan said...

Banana Ane:
It was not they were angry at what he had to say but the fact the University allowed a war criminal to speak.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with violence, but what can we do as Muslims. Why do constantly have to condemn what other Muslims do in extreme? I'm sure you as Christian agree that you shouldn't have to speak against the wrong actions of any Christians. Although there are unfortunately extremists in our faith, I'm tired of unfortunately having to feel sorry for actions committed by people like Nidal Malik, Bin Laden, and the sort. Since Sept 11th Muslims are expected to care about and say sorry about the terrors committed by some man most of us have never of heard of. Don't get me wrong I feel bad about the victims' families who have suffered a loss. Getting back on topic I wish the MSU had used peaceful dialogue, but I'm not going to say sorry for the actions. They're adults and should be held responsible for their own actions. At the same time I understand their anger, after all you have to understand some of these people have lost family members and homes unjustly and we as a country are aiding Israel via our tax money billions of dollars to the killing of innocent civilians. Most Orthodox Jews are against Israel as they understand its not a nation that resembles Judaism, but Zionism. Its like the Holocaust is happening all over again from the top. We need to focus on our own problems first. At my university there were protests, but silent during Israel Independance day sponsored by the Hillel student center. Its the same always most NonMuslims always love to paint us with the same brush. Sorry, but I'm not going to apologize for the actions of some random person I share a faith with. Unfortunately the ummah is dwindling when it comes to faith. All I hope is that we wake up one day and turn to our Lord Allah SWT.

Baji said...

I don't want to comment on who was right or wrong, however, I want to point out this one line from the post:
"To disrupt a speech by an ambassador of any nation is a diplomatic incident in and of itself. That this happened on the UCI campus is a major embarrassment for the university."

Does anyone remember what happened to Ahmadinejad at Columbia University? (I think it was Columbia)

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@Baji, I actually thought of Ahmadinejad when I was posting this.
Here is the transcript from his 2007 visit.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/24/AR2007092401042.html

I don't remember how bad protests were ahead of his visit, but it looks like the audience was more respectful of him.

Sam said...

First of all there is no such thing as true freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is only for those in power. The media fools people into thinking that there is true freedom of speech but they only tell you what they want you to hear but you will hardly ever alternative points of view like chomsky or finkelstein in the mainstream press.
Now with regards to the Israeli ambassador speaking, I would not show any respect to him for he is a racist no different from the white South Africans during apartheid. Imagine if the South African ambassador during apartheid came and spoke. First, I doubt the Chancellor would come out to defend him so vigorously and second, I am sure his reception would be much more hostile and rightly so. The Israeli ambassador needs to understand that as long as his country perpetuates its racist and colonial policy and continues the starvation and blockade of Gaza (ie concentration camp) they will never have friendly reception around the world. If the KKK or any of the dictator Arab leaders came to campus to speak I would do the same thing as the muslims did. I would show respect to the Israeli ambassador when he starts to respect the Palestinians and give them their rights.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@Sam, You might know the answer to these questions.
(Or anyone else who knows)

1.What is the status of Arab-Israeli citizens? I have heard the Israel's population is at least 20% Arab. How are they different from the Palestinians in Gaza and the W.B? I'm just wondering how they got the right to live within Israel itself while other Palestinians have not

2. Why haven't the Palestinian refugees been absorbed by Israel's neighbors? I.E. Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. They would surely have an easier time establishing themselves in these countries since they speak the same language and have the same 2 religions. I can see holding out hope, but its been 3 generations now. I think the kids would have a better chance somewhere else. If I had the choice, I would have Saudi give them automatic citizenship and housing for the 1st year or 2.

Sam said...

Arab Israeli citizens that live in Israel proper have citizenship but they are discriminated against. It is very hard to get building permits. If they marry someone from the West Bank or Gaza the spouse from the territories cannot live with them because of the demographic fear. In the airport and check points they are always searched and interrogated. Their schools get much less funding from the government in comparison to the Jews.

There is refugees in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, etc but they do not have citizenship and why should they? If you were kicked out of your country by international law and the Geneva conventions you have the right of return. It is not a debatable issue but the Israelis want them to leave be absorbed by other countries so they will not have a demographic problems. Right now in the occupied territories it is like the bantustans in South Africa where you have Jewish only roads and communities. For Palestinians to go a few miles can take several hours because of checkpoints and Jewish only roads. Imagine in this country if we had White only roads how the world would view us? Israel is another form of apartheid.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@Sam

I've looked up more about the Arab citizens position in Israel. I agree that its a pretty bleak existence to say the least. The educational situation is especially alarming, because education is so important to changing the position of the next generation.

As far as refugees go, I think they should be absorbed and seek citizenship in other Arab nations similarly to the way Somalis and other refugees are given a path to citizenship in the U.S.

Basically, the problem goes back to the British mandate after WWII. There were always Arab citizens in the Holy Land, but there was never a self-governing nation of Palestine. This left the citizens without a voice when the land was sold under their feet.

Sam said...

I do not agree that the refugees have to be absorbed by Arab countries for that essentially absolves Israel of their crimes. This is a right called the right of return guaranteed by the Geneva conventions that any refugee has the right to return their homeland whether they were forcibly removed or voluntarily left. That right of return does not mean that they displace other Jews living there. At the time of the partition Jews only owned about 6% of the land with 1/3 of the total population. For more about ethnic cleansing read Ilan Pappe or even Benny Morris both of which are Israelis. This is all well documented and Palestinians are only asking what is given to them under the Geneva conventions.
Whether there was a self governing nation or not really makes no difference for they should not have been displaced and if they were displaced they have the right to return or be compensated.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@Sam, Thanks. I will look into those two authors. I would like to learn more about the topic, but so much of the information online is just too heavily biased. I don't feel like I know enough about the topic now to pass judgment. Once I feel like I know more I may post more on this topic.

Susanne said...

Stacy, I enjoyed this post and the comments. I will look forward to reading future posts on this topic as you read and learn more. It's an interesting one for sure! My views have changed a lot since hearing the other side of the story.

Odna said...

I agree with Stacy and Banana Anne. With the other comments... some not so much.

I won't voice my opinion on the issue as I would practically write a whole post here. I think Stacy an Banana Anne said pretty much what I wanted to.

יסמין said...

I agree Stacy also,
This was an improper way to act. Even when people are faced with issues that make them angry and upset, sometimes they should to take a step back.
As the next generation aka students in America, they/we(I am a student)need to be building relationships, not shutting metaphorical doors in faces.

أبو سنان said...

I understand where you are coming from, but imagine a roomfull of African Americans asked to sit silent and listen to a speech by David Duke? Imagine a room full of Jews asked to be silent for a Neo Nazi and asked to give him respect whilst he spouted his views.

Do you think either would have happened?

Israel is a pariah nation, and rightfully so. The anger that is out there is justified because this pariah nation is being supported by the USA.

As to "building relationships" who would have imaged people talking about "building relationships" with apartheid South Africa? Anyone who thinks Israel is anything different, if not worse than apartheid era South Africa is either fooling themselves or support the racist and murderous actions of Israel!

Ciyaalka Xaafadda said...

What a shameful act. I suppose this would be an improvement for Muslims - they didn't slaughter anybody. At least it wasn't over cartoons this time around.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@Abu Sinan, You have some very valid points. However, no one had to hear the speaker unless they wanted to.
I agree that Israel's policies regarding Palestinians are similar to apartheid South Africa. Far too many people have died and are still living a terrible existence. I also don't agree with my tax dollars being used to slaughter civilians in any country.
On the other hand though, there is a lot of terrible rhetoric coming from the Palestinian side too, especially from the religious leaders.
Until both sides realize that the past and present sufferings of the other are real, nothing will be accomplished.

أبو سنان said...

@Stacy,

Sure, no one had to hear him if they didnt want to. During apartheid era South Africa no one had to visit SA did they? What about the world wide protests at South African embassies? No one had to go to the Embassies did they?

If we based our moral inclinations on things we have direct and absolute need to be involved in think of how injustices around the world would NEVER have been dealt with. We didnt really need to fight the Germans in WW1 or WW2, the world had no reason to unite and force change in South Africa.

I agree with the rhetoric issue amoungst some religious leaders, but this isnt a Muslim issue, no matter what people like "Ciyaalka" would have us think. Some of the best known Palestinian activists have been Christian, think Edward Said and Hanan Ashrawi. Besides, the Palestinian issue was a leftist/secular issue from before 1948 until the late 1980s.

Keep in mind Israel helped found and fund Hamas initially as a religious counterweight to the secular PLO. It is partly an Israeli creation that certainly has come back to bite them where it hurts.

The FACT remains that Israeli occupation is illegal according to international law and that is where the situation comes from. Without that everything else is moot, so let's not put the cart before the horse!

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

Wow Israel initially funded hamas? Hmm I guess it doesn't really surprise me that much though.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

I'm trying to do more reading about the WWII and the events leading up to the creation of Israel, because I've realized that there is still so much I don't know!

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

Just another thought I had that's not addressed to anyone in particular.

Isn't Saudi Arabia also an apartheid state in a sense?
Obviously non-Muslims do not have the same rights as Muslims there.

أبو سنان said...

@Stacey,

It is, but it isnt. Saudi is more upfront about the issue and just says if you arent Muslim you cannot be a citizen. Israel, on the other hand, has Muslim and Christian citizens, they just get treated differently. Their schools and hospitals get less funding, ect.

It is interesting in looking to compare a state to Israel one would have to look at a state like Saudi Arabia.

So much for the argument often made by Israeli supporters that "they are just like us" or "they are the only democracy in the Middle East".

I am not in favour of ANY government set up to further one section of their population over another, whether it is Saudi Arabia or Israel.

Anonymous said...

Stacy, if the public discourse was in favor of freedom of speech and civility as you imply, Ahmedinejad would not be condemned and rediculed at his Columbia speech. You are surprised and speaking unfavourably against a group of MSU youth shouting, but have you seen the outcry of the entire nation when Ahmedinejad spoke at Columbia? Have you also seen his speech at the UN general assembly, yes pple heckled him, shouted at him. Yes police had to scort pple out of the hall, and yes many diplomats including our own (American) diplomats walked out of the room. So where is the public discourse that is based on civilty and mutual respect??? It is the double standard, which you know all too well that is used against Muslims ALL the TIME, Everywhere including your blog....I'm your FB friend Ismail Warsame btw...no hard feelings, just my observations that you're silently probbing up Israel...

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@Ismail, Thanks for making me think walaal. Your links and posts always do. Part of the reason for having a blog is that it also forces me to be introspective at times.

No hard feelings to you either. InshaAllah we can all learn to be more sympathetic to those who are suffering and see more from their perspective.

Ciyaalka Xaafadda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

@Ismail I am also her fb friend and to be honest I also feel she has a hidden agenda. She befriends muslims and somalis, but im starting to think she is only using people she is around or befriends so she can somehow push her thoughts and beliefs on them. I can see right through you stacy.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Im sorry to say Stacy but I met you in Minnesota, and I know all about you and that group your involved in. Its really sad. So who should I ask that knows you better? Whats that supposed to mean?

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

Still not sure who I am talking to here, but rest assured that I have no hidden agenda. I don't know what sort of "group" I am involved in either. Its very sad to have someone who is supposed to be a friend slamming me anonymously behind my back.
This post was about a political topic that a lot of people have strong feelings about. Just because 2 people don't see eye to eye on the topic doesn't mean that they have no basis for a real and lasting friendship.

Anonymous said...

Mohamed Yakul who debates with muslims and the group who learns somali language and then persuades the somali people towards christianity.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

You're kidding right? I have never heard of Mohamed Yakul and didn't know that such a "group" exists. I assure you that I am not a part of it. I learned Somali language because it is beautiful language and culture that I was attracted to.

Anonymous said...

How can you support them? Dont you see the jewish people laughing and flipping people off. The teachers saying every student is failing class, even to the students who werent yelling? If I was there I would spit in his face! You have the nerve to say you respect muslims? You are a damn Liar. Its ok for everyone to walk on Muslims and kill and torture there people, but when muslims stand up and let there feelings out you have the nerve to call them disgusting? You are disgusting and a peice of shit. People listen to me Stacy is a fake person. She does not love muslims and somalis, get the fuck out of here with that shit! Somali's are Muslims and Stacy is a Confused Jew loving zionist and has a hidden agenda to hurt all the muslims and somali's she meets! Soon everyone will know what you truly stand for!

Susanne said...

Isn't it great how people will attack others with cruel words and then hide behind an "anonymous" label? (As if God doesn't see you behind the computer screen.) For sure this coward must not be a God-honoring, God-fearing individual for using such descriptions to talk about someone God created and for daring to judge Stacy's intentions.

Don't worry, Stacy. Those of us brave enough to use our names know you to be an honorable young lady.

God knows your heart and I believe you to be one who loves people regardless of their nationality or religion. I admire you for that.

Anonymous said...

I don't think its right for you Anon up above to judge Stacy like that. Just because her political views maybe different than yours does not mean she does not respect the Somali culture and Islam. Its hard for people to understand the actions of Muslims or even Somalis especially if you are not one. Sometimes I don't even understand my own people. Maybe by asking questions about Muslims and Islam she is trying to learn more about something that might be confusing to her. I don't think Stacy would take the time and have the dedication to learn about our entire Somali culture and language just to be rudely called a fake. Make sure to have adhab when talking to others its part of Islam, you don't have to insult a person just because you disagree with them. Explain your perspectives in calm and rational manner please for the sake of Allah SWT.

Ciyaalka Xaafadda said...

I'd say they're not worth the response. But, hey, that's just me. :-)

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

This will be the last comment on this post.
Anon, you are painting with a very wide brush.

There are a few things you must understand.
Not all Jews are Zionists
Not all Zionists are Jews.
Not all Palestinians are Muslims


The point of the post was not to support Israeli policies or Zionism at all. It was to point out that the UCI students may have actually hurt the pro-Palestinian cause because of the way they responded to Mr. Oren's visit to campus.

I may have some wrong assumptions about things just all people do, but the difference between me and you is that I am willing to listen and learn from others.

-God bless