During the Muslim Student Union and Students for Justice in Palestine’s annual Anti-Zionism week taking place this week, College Republicans at UCI have invited conservative writer David Horowitz to present a rebuttal to the pro-Palestinian viewpoint.
MSU and SJP hold their Anti-Zionism week each year to present to the campus and community the situation and struggles of Palestinians living in occupied territories under the state of Israel. This week, MSU and SJP, along with Jewish Voice for Peace and American Indian Student Association, will hold a variety of events including presentations on refugees, political prisoners, differences between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism and the role of the university in the occupation.
Most notably, the week of events will feature a mock apartheid wall and checkpoints — to model the wall separating the Palestinian territories and Israel — on Ring Road all week.
Although this week has always elicited dissent among students, this year, Anti-Zionism week faces additional controversy with the number of complaints by Jewish students over anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist sentiment to the UC Regents. In late March of this year, the UC Regents adopted a statement condemning “anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism.”
College Republicans at UCI have invited David Horowitz on this Friday of Anti-Zionism week, which many have dubbed as “Hate Week,” in order to address anti-Semitism on UC campuses and to provide a rebuttal to arguments presented by MSU, SJP and others during Anti-Zionism week.
David Horowitz, a prominent writer and speaker, is known for founding the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a Los Angeles-based conservative think tank, which according to its website, seeks to “combat the efforts of the radical left and its Islamist allies to destroy American values and disarm this country as it attempts to defend itself in a time of terror,” whose offensive, it claims “is most obvious on our nation’s campuses.”
According to the College Republicans at UCI, this event will provide students with “a more complete narrative of what is going on in the region.”
“We chose to invite David Horowitz at the end of Anti-Zionism week, because we felt that we need to provide an alternative perspective to the students at UCI on the Israel-Palestine issue,” said College Republicans at UCI in a statement to The New University. “Horowitz will be a great speaker to provide insights on the Israel-Palestine matter due to his expertise in combating anti-Semitism, especially on our campus.”
Many other students, however, are critical of the qualifications of Horowitz in being able to provide another perspective on the Israel-Palestine issue, without eliciting additional controversy and hatred.
Last November, Horowitz addressed a letter to University of California Regents President Janet Napolitano asking the University of California to withdraw tolerance and support for the Students in Justice for Palestine and the Muslim Students Association because, he alleged, these two organizations were created by the Muslim Brotherhood, and are the chief sponsors “Israel Apartheid Week.” He also criticized the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) resolutions many University of California MSAs support as a movement inspired by fundamentalist organization Hamas.
Additionally, Horowitz cited that members of the SJP and MSA are merely calling for “the destruction of the Jewish state” under the guise of freeing “occupied Palestine” since, he argued, Israel “was created on land that belonged to the Turks who are not Palestinians or even Arabs.”
“The University of California, Irvine deserves its reputation as a campus that is friendly to anti-Israel terrorists,” he said.
Hillel Foundation of Orange County, which oversees Hillel at UC Irvine, the campus’s leading organization for Jewish students, did not comment on Horowitz’s scheduled event stating that it is not involved with the program.
Moreover, College Republicans at UCI insist they too are neither taking a political or religious stance nor making opportunistic use of the anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim rhetoric being vented by leading Republican candidates in the current election year through hosting Horowitz, but they are merely seeking to provide an additional perspective.
“In a university, we tolerate speech we disagree with, but we also bring forth our own speech to counter it, and give the audience an opportunity to see both sides of an issue and make a decision afterwards,” they stated.
However, many Muslim Student Union members believe that Horowitz is not the right choice to provide another perspective on the Israel-Palestine situation.
“There are a number of speakers who could have been invited to provide a different perspective. It is not necessary for College Republicans to incite polarization and hostility by inviting a renowned Islamophobe on campus,” said Falmata Mohamed, Public Relations representative of the MSU.
Students for Justice in Palestine declined to comment on Horowitz specifically, believing he “does not deserve our attention,” but instead questioned the role of the UCI administration.
“We hold UCI accountable for allowing such harmful, violent people, who vehemently support genocide and settler colonialism on our campus, and will not engage in any commentary aside from condemnation,” said SJP in a statement to The New University.
SJP instead argued that the campus should seek to address more prevalent issues on campus and abroad.
“Our attention shouldn’t be fixated on a bigoted racist, it should be with the plight of the Syrian people,” said SJP. “Also important are the issues facing fellow students on campus and organizations in the Cross Cultural Center, and the lack of administration’s response to them. Or more insidious, we condemn administration’s restless project to silence student dissident and student movements by normalizing campus violence and its punishment of unapologetic resistance.”
Anti-Zionism week events continue until Thursday in the Anteater Plaza and Student Center. David Horowitz’s presentation will be held on Friday at 6 p.m. in the Crystal Cove Ballroom of the Student Center.