UCI Muslim Student Union Event's Name was Less Threatening, But Critics Charge It Was Still Extreme

Perhaps it was the UC Irvine-imposed suspension or the negative publicity over the disruption of Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren's February 2010 speech on campus or just plain old growing up, but the embattled Muslim Student Union just presented a kinder- and gentler-sounding program seeking divestment from and boycotts of Israel.

At least the title eschewed the "genocide" and "apartheid" of years past in favor of "Palestine: An Invisible Nation." But critics taken to nicknaming the annual event "hate week" claim the May 5-12 program featured the same old "death to Israel" shtick.

Roz Rothstein and Roberta P. Seidis of the pro-Israel education group Stand With Us (not to be confused with the pro-MSU student criminal targets Stand With the Irvine 11) agree in an article co-penned in the Jewish Journal that this year's title was less inflammatory, no bloody Israeli flags were waved, no placards equating Jews to Nazis were toted and "the blatantly anti-Semitic, demagogic Abdel Malik Ali wasn't invited"--all of which have been the case over the past 10 years of the event.

"But this apparent moderation is a deception," concluded Rothstein and Seidis, who claimed the invited speakers were as extremist as ever.

They pointed first to Hedy Epstein, an elderly Holocaust survivor who, they say, "sweetly spouts Hamas' version of Israel's history and talks about her participation in the Free Gaza flotillas." Rothstein and Seidis argue Hamas is "the real oppressor of Gaza's residents," not Israel. Also coming in for criticism from the pair was: Israeli Matan Cohen, a Hampshire College student and leader of Anarchists Against the Wall, which seeks to obstruct the government building of the security barrier separating Israelis from Palestinians; former U.S. Ambassador Edward Peck, who was on the Gaza relief flotilla; and UC Berkeley lecturer Hatem Bazian, who has advocated boycotts, divestments, and sanctions against Israel.

"The speakers attack Jewish identity and Jewish students with thinly veiled or blatant anti-Semitism," Rothstein and Seidis wrote of these and other "propaganda parade" speakers. "They assault scholarship, the historical record, and rational thought, the mainstays of academia. They misrepresent and misapply principles of international law and human rights with Orwellian results."

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