Twisted version of Israel flag, Apartheid flag 311.
(photo credit: Richard Millett)
The adage “time flies when you’re having fun” might explain why the two full
weeks devoted to bashing Israel on college campuses around the world is known as
Israeli Apartheid Week as opposed to say Israeli Apartheid Fortnight. And more
people than ever are clamoring to join in the festivities.
In 2005, the
first year college students organized to compare the situation in the “occupied”
territories to South African Apartheid, events were restricted to the University
By 2006 the hatefest – which has done an historical injustice
to bona fide Apartheid – had spread to Montreal and Oxford. In 2007, it grew to
eight cities; in 2008, to 24 cities; in 2009, to 38 cities; last year, to more
than 40 cities.
This year, IAW festivities will be “celebrated” in over
55 cities worldwide.
As the freedom of thousands of anti-Zionists to
disparage the Jewish state is faithfully and vigilantly protected, as well it
should be within legal limits, defenders of Israel are facing a potential,
intolerable deterioration of their freedom of expression. University professors
who should know better have joined forces with student groups, leftwing
activists and Muslim groups to protest a California district attorney’s decision
to press criminal charges against a group of Muslim students for infringing the
freedom of speech of Ambassador to the US Michael Oren.
In February of
last year, Oren was repeatedly interrupted by a group of Muslim students while
giving a speech at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). Instead of
waiting to express their dissent during an extensive Q and A session allotted
for the end of the speech, these Muslim students took turns standing up and
shouting epithets at Oren such as “mass murderer” and “war criminal.” As a
result, the ambassador’s ability to make his points was significantly
This February, Orange County’s District Attorney Tony
Rackauckas filed misdemeanor criminal charges against the students – known as
the Irvine 11 – accusing them of an “organized attempt to squelch the speaker.”
He also said the students “meant to stop this speech and stop anyone else from
hearing his ideas, and they did so by disrupting a lawful meeting.”
response, 100 faculty members at UCI have called on Rackauckas to drop the
charges since the Muslim Student Union had already been suspended from campus
for a semester as punishment. Thirty UC Jewish studies faculty members –
including David Biale, Jewish history professor at UC Davis; Daniel Boyarin,
Talmud professor at UC Berkeley; Deborah Hertz, history professor at UC San
Diego; and David Myers, history department chairman at UCLA – pointed out that
the demonstration had been “peaceful.”
Jewish Voice for Peace, which
supports the boycott, divest and sanction movement against Israel, claimed that
the DA was “targeting” Muslim American students and would strengthen
NONE OF these arguments in defense of the Irvine 11 is
relevant to the basic legal principle that the DA has a constitutional
obligation to do everything in his power to protect his country’s freedom of
speech, a rare commodity in most parts of the world, dearly fought for by
America’s founding fathers.
The fact that the Muslim Student Union was
suspended for a semester from campus because its members initially lied about
organizing the disruption of Oren’s speech as a group is an internal UCI matter.
Though Jewish studies faculty members would have us believe otherwise, it is not
at all clear that the Irvine 11 should be rewarded for refraining from violence.
And the claim of Islamophobia seems a concession to the tendency among too many
Muslims to use self-victimization as a defense tactic.
attempting to intimidate or stifle their critics, Muslim students would do well
to learn from their Jewish counterparts. During Israeli Apartheid Week this
year, organizations such as StandWithUs, the David Project, Hasbara Fellowships,
the Israel on Campus Coalition and Masa Israel Journey, along with AIPACtrained
student activists, Hillel-Jewish Agency Israel fellows and others, are taking to
the campuses of America to present a different, more accurate picture of Israel
while respecting the right of those more critical of Israel to freedom of
Only through the careful fostering of a free market of ideas will
college students be able to formulate informed opinions on Israel. America’s
founding fathers understood that the only way to maintain such an open exchange
of opinions is by strictly protecting basic human rights. DA Rackauckas
understands this. Too many of California’s intellectual elite, unfortunately, do