September 17, 2002
by Daniel Pipes, Campus
Last week, two
prominent Middle Easterners traveled to two North American campuses
to deliver speeches mainly about the Arab-Israeli conflict. Both
met protests. One succeeded in giving the speech; the other did
not. Therein hangs a tale.
On Monday, former Israeli prime minister
Benjamin Netanyahu went to Concordia University in Montreal to
explain why "there is no alternative to winning this war
[on terrorism] without delay." But he never spoke at Concordia
- indeed, he never made it onto the campus - because a thousand
anti-Israel demonstrators staged a mini-riot with the intent of
preventing him from speaking; "Benjamin Netanyahu is coming
to Montreal. Let's make it clear he's not welcome,"
read their signs.
The anti-Israel forces physically assaulted
the would-be audience. A female
professor of religion at Concordia recounted how some of them
punches at my breasts."
They smashed a plate-glass window and
threw objects at the police inside.
They hurled furniture at police from a mezzanine. As Toronto's
Globe & Mail
put it, "By lunchtime, the vestibule of Concordia's main
was littered with paper, upturned chairs, broken furniture and
aftereffects of pepper spray."
The police, saying they couldn't assure
Netanyahu's safety, canceled the
event. To which Wassim Moukahhal, an Arab leader at nearby McGill
University, crowed: "The man is a war criminal. We don't
want our city and
our universities to be the harbor of such a war criminal."Nor
was this the first time Netanyahu has been prevented from speaking
In November 2000, "hundreds of raucous
protesters" managed to
cancel his appearance at the University of California/Berkeley.
On Thursday, Hanan Ashrawi, the former
spokeswoman and colleague of
Yasser Arafat, went to Colorado College in Colorado Springs to
keynote speech at a symposium on "September 11: One Year
Protestors noted that Ashrawi is smack
on the side of America's enemies in
the War on Terrorism. For example, while the U.S. government formally
designates Hamas a terrorist group, Ashrawi states she doesn't
Hamas as a terrorist group." Also, she considers Israeli
civilians living on the
West Bank to be "legitimate . . . targets of Palestinian
resistance" - that is,
legitimate targets for deadly violence.
The many objections to Ashrawi's being
honored at Colorado College
centered on her obnoxious presence at an event dealing with the
of Sept. 11. Colorado Gov. Bill Owens spoke for many when he said,
outrageous to be bringing this woman, who has done so much to
Middle East and has applauded terrorism." Both of the state's
objected. Rudolph Giuliani added: "I wouldn't have invited
her. Cancel it."
But she did speak, without any interference.
The protests were completely
non-violent, including nothing more than scattered boos, hand-held
and a rebuttal after the speech (given by this writer).
Note: American scholars of the Middle East, to varying degrees,
reject the views of most Americans and the enduring policies of
the U.S. government about the Middle East over a dozen administrations.
Lest this characterization appear exaggerated, consider that,
with only one exception, every American president since 1948 has
spoken forcefully about the benefits to the United States from
strong and deep relations with Israel. In contrast, American scholars
often propagate a view of Middle Eastern affairs that, among other
things, sees Zionism as a racist offshoot of imperialism, blames
Israel alone for the origin and persistence of the Palestinian
refugee problem, and holds Israel responsible for such problems
as terrorism and fundamentalist Islam . Complete column available
Watch website. Go to a related column "A
Propagandist Comes to Colorado Campus"]