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September 17, 2002

by Daniel Pipes, Campus Watch

     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 "aimed their
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 downtown building
was littered with paper, upturned chairs, broken furniture and the choking
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 on campus.
     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 give a
keynote speech at a symposium on "September 11: One Year Later."
     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 "think of
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 aftermath
of Sept. 11. Colorado Gov. Bill Owens spoke for many when he said, "It's
outrageous to be bringing this woman, who has done so much to divide the
Middle East and has applauded terrorism." Both of the state's U.S. senators
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 signs
and a rebuttal after the speech (given by this writer).

    [Editor's 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 at Campus Watch website. Go to a related column "A Propagandist Comes to Colorado Campus"]


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