MSU Impedes Peaceful Talks

A few weeks ago there were two rallies of note on campus. One was a peace rally, and one was a war rally. One bemoaned the evil of terrorism, and one promoted it.
The peace rally took the form of an antiterrorism event sponsored by AFI, the pro-Israeli organization on campus. Showcasing Bus 19, an Israeli bus that was the site of a suicide attack last year, and featuring a number of different speakers, the event revolved around three themes: one, the targeting of civilians by Jihadists is evil in every instance, from Beslan to Manhattan to Tel Aviv; two, a two-state solution (a safe, secure Palestine next to a safe, secure Israel) is the path to any lasting peace; and three, terrorism is an insurmountable obstacle to that solution. There were no calls for war or revenge, or to punish the Palestinian people or to continue Israel’s untenable occupation of the territories. Just a plea for peace.
The war rally took place two days later when the Muslim Student Union brought the now-notorious Amir-Abdel Malik Ali to speak at an event entitled ‘The Desperation of the Zionist Lobby.’ The speech covered a wide range of topics, focusing mainly on the evils of Israel and the United States, and the imminence of global Jihad’s triumph.
Abdel Malik is a fiery, charismatic speaker, and virulently anti-Semitic. I suppose I’m encouraged that anti-Semitism is still enough of a taboo to cause protestations from Abdel Malik that he’s not an anti-Semite, just an anti-Zionist. (Indeed, he tried to use the clarifying term ‘Zionist Jews’ whenever he could, but often slipped, most notably when railing against ‘Jewish money.’) Predictably, however, his audience was treated to a roster of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
He spoke of the ‘neocons’ using Bush as a puppet (not mentioning Cheney, Rumsfeld or Rice, of course, but the now-retired Douglas Feith) and suggesting they have FBI agents in schools to monitor anti-Israeli behavior.
We got to hear about Jews controlling the media, and fictional, racist quotes libelously attributed to Israeli leaders. He encouraged his audience to ‘look it up and see if we’re lying.’ I did. He is.
Though depressing, the cheap anti-Semitism of the event was not what shocked me. What shocked me was its overt, unconditional embrace of Jihad. Abdel Malik began by deriding the week’s earlier event, making the absurd claim that Palestinian suicide-murderers target Israeli buses because soldiers use them. You needn’t have heard the obituaries of Bus 19’s 11 victims to know this to be an outrageous lie.
Later he spoke of solidarity with the insurgency in Iraq, the insurgency that is killing hundreds of Iraqis each week, and continues to target Iraqi doctors, lawyers, teachers and trade unionists. When Abdel Malik speaks of his brotherhood with ‘all Muslims,’ I wonder if he means the millions of Iraqis who just voted, or the ones trying to kill them.
And finally, most appallingly, he eerily echoed the words of the Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, calling democracy a Greek idea alien to the Muslim world, and praying, ‘God willing,’ for the rise of an ‘Islamic government in Iraq’ (incidentally, Zarqaqi, a leader of the wholly Sunni insurgency, went on to call for the slaughter of all Shia Muslims, though Abdel Malik did not).
What was the reaction of the crowd at this point? At the call for the triumph of the insurgency, and the rise of yet another theocratic regime in the Middle East, the kind that rules its people with an iron fist and permits for thousands of ‘honor killings’ of women each year? For dozens of young Muslim men in attendance, it was an opportunity to shout, in unison, ‘Allahu Akbar!’ meaning ‘God is the greatest.’
I’ve seen half a dozen speakers the MSU has brought to UCI, but it was at the antiterrorism rally, put on by mostly Jewish students, that I heard a Muslim speak about the good of Islam.
The MSU’s events are exclusively anti-Israel, but in front of Bus 19, Nonie Darwish spoke of the ‘famous Muslim generosity,’ and called terrorism a dark spot on the Muslim soul.
Coincidently, that week’s issue of the New University had a feature on a Muslim student, Layla Shaikley, who spoke of wanting to educate her fellow students about ‘a religion of peace’ that shouldn’t be ‘stigmatized by people who commit acts of terror.’
I applaud that, and wish the MSU would do the same. Instead, the only Muslims I get to hear are the ones celebrating those acts of terror.

Adam Cooper is a fourth-year studio art major.