MSU Event Misses ‘Awareness’

Let’s clear up one misconception right now: Whatever the Muslim Student Union wanted to call last week’s event, it was not “Palestine Awareness Week.” I learned nothing of the culture of Palestinians, and what I learned of their history only had to do with Israel. It was more like “victimize Palestine and make Israel look evil” week. I must admit that the MSU did an outstanding job of victimizing the Palestinians and making them look helpless, even if it was a false representation. Bravo.
Until last week, I didn’t realize the MSU was so hostile. The inconsistency of its arguments is amazingly narrow-minded and devoid of vital factual and historical information. It only presents one side of the situation and completely disregards the other side. The week’s theme, “The Palestinian Holocaust,” is hardly credible. Hamas and Hezbollah explicitly call for the annihilation of Israel and the Jews. Meanwhile, many Arabs live in Israel. One-tenth of the seats in the Knesset, which is part of the Israeli government, are held by Arab politicians. Israel also provides aid to the Palestinians. So explain to me once more how Israel is an apartheid, racist and genocidal state.
On Monday, Muhammad Al-Asi took the microphone at the flagpoles and spewed his usual batch of thinly-veiled hate speech. Jim Lafferty was interesting. He spent a good hour demonizing Israel on Tuesday and misinforming the audience that “[Israel’s] efforts to destroy hospitals, schools, family records … can only be seen as an effort to finish what they started in 1948.” Bullshit. When Israel pulled out of Gaza, the first thing the Palestinians did was burn and destroy every Israeli building and resource in sight. And now they bitch about not having any resources and living in poverty.
Even though Cindy and Craig Corrie are misled, I thought they were the only speakers I could come close to respecting. And then I heard them complain, “not to suggest there is a balance in the situation [of violence], because there is not.” I guess if more Israelis died, they’d be happier. Oh wait, you just want fewer Palestinians to die? Just tell militants from Hamas and Hezbollah to stop using them as human shields and launching rockets from civilian neighborhoods.
Anna Baltzer’s speech on Wednesday was really just a dramatization of the conflict. She simply takes stories of Palestinians negatively affected by Israel and then plays them out to evoke emotional support from weak-minded audience members. She portrayed the situation as though Israeli families aren’t affected by Palestinian actions. At one point, she actually said, “I reject the idea that Israel is a safe place for Jews. No, it’s one of the most dangerous places I can go to as a Jewish person.” The ignorance of this statement is staggering. Why do you think it’s so dangerous there, Ms. Baltzer? It’s no fault of Israel’s that it’s not safe; Israel is not the one sniping, bombing and shooting rockets at its civilians.
I can tell she means well, but Baltzer, sadly, is just another misinformed activist. When one person pointed out that she spoke a lot about equal rights but did not address the human rights crimes committed by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, Baltzer admitted, “There are human rights [violations] committed by Palestinians. … I don’t condone attacks on civilians.” Despite this, Baltzer spent the majority of the speech demonizing Israel for its “human rights violations.” Some fun facts, Ms. Baltzer: Sudan, an Arabic and Islamic state, is actively engaged in underground slave trade. In Islamic states, women are beaten for taking off their hijab, stoned for being raped and if you’re gay, you’re lucky if your family doesn’t kill you. Palestinian militants indoctrinate their children, raise them on ideals of hate and turn some of them into child soldiers.
And on Thursday, good ol’ Malik Ali was at the flagpoles. What is there to say about this guy that hasn’t already been said? He’s a radical, for one. He explicitly relishes the idea of using violence as a means of political expression. “Instead of young brothers joining the [Black] Panthers, they join gangs and fight each other,” Ali said, regrettably. When asked if he believed that it’s “time for the Palestinians to unite and embrace a non-violent approach [to the conflict]”, Ali replied, “No. Not until the Israelis embrace a non-violent approach. Israelis didn’t withdraw out of Gaza or Lebanon from non-violence. They’ve suffered major losses when they went up against Muslims. They lose.”
This is why I really don’t like Malik Ali. He finds a way to divide people no matter what the topic is and totally disregards the idea of finding peace. Also, did it ever occur to him that if the Palestinians stopped using violence, then the Israelis would too? “Hezbollah does what they have to,” Malik Ali professed. “Israelis are the terrorists.” I’ve already stated how Hezbollah officially declared that they want to exterminate the Jews and destroy Israel.
In regards to the MSU’s anti-Israel week, an anonymous second-year film and media studies major said, “It upsets me. … It always seems to me whenever they have stuff up on Ring Mall, and they have speakers, it’s always really hateful. I mean, comparing the last [two] weeks, iFest was so much more welcoming.”
It was exactly one year ago that I became aware of the anti-Israel sentiment on campus when I first saw MSU’s wall. I saw members shouting anti-Israel slogans and marching in a circle around Israel supporters who sang Hebrew songs back at them. A rabbi approached the MSU booth and tried to engage the girls manning it in a conversation about the conflict in a respectful way. I was shocked to see that the girls were very reluctant to hear his point of view after they had already given theirs, and a group of male MSU members came by and told the rabbi and surrounding listeners, “We don’t want to talk with you. Please leave.”
Why do I bring this up? Because it shows how uninterested the MSU is in peace. All I’ve ever seen them do is try and demonize Israel. And it’s sad, really, because those are the kinds of people that are hardest to make peace with.

AE Anteater is a second-year English major. He can be reached at emailremoved@uci.edu.