Let me preface this article by saying I’m sorry if I sound arrogant, and that I hope this article doesn’t backfire, like every other major Zionist/Jewish speech or writing.
Amir Abdel Malik Ali graced UC Irvine with his presence on Feb. 2, and it appeared that people listened.
But it was an interesting time for the Muslim Student Union to bring this controversial speaker to the UC Irvine campus.
At a time when ‘extremists’ or, as Ali, an Imam of an Oakland mosque, calls them, ‘freedom fighters,’ are making a conscientious decision to strive toward peace, the MSU brought a very anti-Semitic and, at times, an anti-American speaker to rally the troops at UC Irvine.
The Imam, someone who has spoken at many California college campuses, called for almost the exact opposite action.
Two days after Anteaters for Israel, in conjunction with other campus organizations who wanted to display their stance against terrorism, brought a bus to campus that was torn apart by a suicide bomber, Ali called the current situation in Israel a genocide of the Palestinian people, and in name compared Israel to the Apartheid of South Africa.
In a speech entitled ‘The Desperation of the Zionist Lobby,’ Ali spewed anti-Semitic rhetoric, from Jews being responsible for senators losing their seats to the ‘fact’ that Jews spurred the war in Iraq.
He wanted to make sure we quoted him correctly, and so here is my attempt: ‘Zionism is a mixture of white supremacy and the chosen people.’
He claimed that Jews were oppressing the Muslims in Israel. Ali also appealed to African-Americans and other minorities, saying that they know what it is like to be oppressed.
He also seemed to claim that Jews didn’t know oppression, but I guess being slaves in Egypt and the attempted genocide of the Jewish population in Europe where six million people were killed don’t count.
At a time when peace talks are progressing in Israel, and Hamas (a terrorist group Ali openly supports) has agreed to a cease-fire with Israel, the MSU brings Ali, a Muslim religious leader who has been recently quoted in the San Francisco State school newspaper as saying that Israelis should return ‘to Germany, to Poland to Russia. The Germans should hook y’all up. You should go back to Germany.’
It’s a good thing that Mahmoud Abbas is running things in the Palestinian Authority, and not Ali, but then again, based on the recent election in Palestine, Ali wouldn’t get very many votes from Palestinians themselves, based on the election of Abbas, a moderate. At least there is a glimmer of hope right now thanks in major part to Prime Minister Abbas, who, unlike his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, is trying to control the extremists who have ingrained the terms ‘suicide bomber’ and ‘homicide bomber’ in the modern lexicon of people all over the world.
Ali gave many interesting ‘facts’ and figures, but I found some that might be more interesting to the readers of the New University: According to the International Policy Institute for Counterterrorism, from the start of the second Intifada on Sept. 27, 2000 through May 1, 2004, 47 percent of Palestinain deaths were combatants killed by Israel, while only 20 percent of the Israeli dead were combatants.
Thirteen percent of the Palestinians who were killed were killed by other Palestinians, while only 2 percent of Israelis killed were killed by other Israelis.
Of the Palestinian dead, 35 percent were noncombatants, while of Israeli dead, 78 percent were noncombatants.
Finally, of the noncombatant Palestinian people killed by Israel, 9 percent were women. Of the Israeli noncombatants killed by Palestinians, 39 percent were women. How do those numbers sound?
Ali rhetorically asked his audience what these actions did to tourism and to the economy. He told them it hurt the Jewish economy. But the violence has also hurt the Palestinian people.
The number of people who visit Bethlehem for Christmas has dropped every year since the beginning of the second Intifada, as has tourism in other sites controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Shopkeepers in the old city of Jerusalem, mostly Palestinian, are also affected by the lack of tourism. Due to the terrorist attacks, on some days many cannot go to work and provide a means of living for their families.
I am not going to comment on the questionable acts of the MSU in past years, mostly because I wasn’t there and have only read about them.
But bringing this speaker at this time was not a smart decision. At a time when the people who are actually living the violence have managed to agree to a cease-fire, can’t the rest of the world at least give it a chance?
Then again, according to Ali, the cease-fire, a work of Muslims and Jews, will backfire. For the sake of sanity in the Middle East region, I hope not.
Alex Chazen is a first-year political science major.