Anti-Zionism Week Draws Speakers, Spurs Debates Over Anti-Semitism
With reporting by Nicole Wong
UCI’s Muslim Student Union and Students for Justice in Palestine hosted their annual Anti-Zionism Week last week, alongside Jewish Voice for Peace and the American Indian Student Association. From Monday through Thursday, the groups erected a mock apartheid wall in front of Langson Library with panels representing Palestinian struggles in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Anti-Zionism week also included daily speakers in the Student Center and Anteater Plaza, leading discussions ranging from Palestinian refugee stories to the difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.
College Republicans of UCI, referring to the events as “Hate Week,” invited conservative speaker David Horowitz to campus on Friday to provide a rebuttal to the apartheid wall, and to argue against the pro-Palestinian viewpoint conveyed by MSU and SJP during Anti-Zionism Week.
Horowitz, a UC Berkeley alumnus, is a California-based conservative writer and speaker. In April, he created controversy at UCLA for posting flyers condemning specific members of the school’s SJP and MSA and for arguing that the University of California supports anti-Semitic, pro-terrorist student organizations.
Members of UCI’s MSU denied any allegations of anti-Semitism during several events throughout the week, leading up to Horowitz’s talk on Friday evening.
On Wednesday of Anti-Zionism Week, student organizers invited pro-Palestinian Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss to discuss the difference between Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism in the Student Center’s Doheny Beach.
Zeina Mousa, an MSU member, opened the event with an Islamic greeting of peace and denied any claims that the Muslim Student Union was anti-Semitic.
“The MSU has clarified numerous times, and will continue to clarify, that hatred of any particular group on the basis of their race, color, ethnicity, or religion, including people of the Jewish faith, is not and will not be tolerated,” said Mousa. “We will be the first to speak out against these injustices just as we would speak out against any other form of racism, no matter what group it targets.”
Rabbi Weiss, a New York-based Jewish Anti-Zionist activist, proceeded to argue that the state of Israel is a violation of international law and a transformation of Judaism to nationalism.
“We’re not here to attack people,” said Weiss. “We are here to be recognized as Judaism and representatives of Judaism. Anybody who speaks in our name, in the name of our religion, Judaism, and uses our symbol … and has taken a name, Israel, is illegitimate. It has no basis in the Torah.”
Anti-Zionism Week events culminated on Thursday, prior to David Horowitz’s rebuttal on Friday evening in the Crystal Cove Auditorium.
At the event, Horowitz discussed his pro-Israel viewpoint with approximately 30 attendants, arguing that anti-Zionists are “worse than Nazis” and that the UC “only enforces its principles of community against conservative students, not that they ever violate them.”
“UCI is a huge school and there are a lot of really good things about it, but like a parasite, there are a lot of ugly things that go on in this school, connected to Hamas,” said Horowitz in an interview with the New University. “UCs condone intimidation of Jewish students — all students — and somebody needed to come [provide a rebuttal].”
Horowitz argued that anti-Zionism and liberalism are often intertwined, and that both ideologies “live on lies and intimidation.” Further, he condemned MSU and SJP students as terrorist supporters, arguing that UC administration can allow these groups to exist, but should not provide them funding or campus space.
Neither MSU nor SJP protested the Horowitz event, and affiliated students sought to focus on the plight of Palestinians rather than on Horowitz’s accusations of anti-Semitism.
“This week’s aim is, in short, to call for an end to the oppression of indigenous Palestinians and recognition of native land,” said Mousa.