UC Irvine Hillel Forces Cancellation of Pro-Israel Speaker

index8On the heels of Brandeis University’s controversial decision to rescind an honorary degree to women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, organizers of a week-long pro-Israel event called iFest, which is currently underway at the University of California, Irvine, say they have been forced to cancel a scheduled speech by Nonie Darwish, a prominent pro-Israel speaker. Lead iFest organizer Daniel Narvy, president of the campus group Anteaters for Israel (AFI), who will be joining the Israeli Defense Forces this summer, says Orange County Hillel was primarily responsible for the cancellation and that the incident is another example of Hillel’s marginalization of Narvy due to his conservative and traditional views. 

Nonie Darwish is the founder and president of FormerMuslimsUnited, an advocacy group for Islamic apostates, and Arabs for Israel, an organization that promotes a positive outlook among Arabs toward the Jewish State and advocates for peace in the region. Darwish was born and raised in Egypt during the most tumultuous period of the Arab-Israeli conflict and is the daughter of Col. Mustafa Hafez, former head of Egyptian intelligence in the Sinai and Gaza, who led multiple operations against Israel during the 1950s. Due to his activities, Darwish’s father was killed by the Israeli military in 1956 by a mail bomb when she was 8 years old, which greatly impacted her negative views toward the Jewish State. 

Darwish, understanding firsthand the extreme anti-Semitism fueling the Arab world’s decades-long war of annihilation against Israel — the remnants of which are still seen in much of the Middle East’s disposition toward Israel today — was slated to speak about her journey from anti-Zionist to ardent Zionist and what propelled her to become such a vocal advocate for Israel despite both her father’s death and her anti-Jewish upbringing in Egypt. Darwish believes that being pro-Israel does not mean being anti-Arab and vice versa, and that Israelis and Arabs should strive for mutual respect and inclusiveness. 

IFest is a week-long celebration of Israel portraying the country in a positive light following the UCI Muslim Student Union’s “Anti-Zionism Week,” which concluded May 1st. Anti-Zionism Week promoted themes reminiscent of Iran’s 2005 “A World Without Zionism” conference and the United Nations’ 1975 resolution declaring that “Zionism is a form of racism,” which was part of the Arab-Soviet strategy to delegitimize and expel Israel from the United Nations. In the same vein, the MSU event discussed such topics as “borders and racism” and featured a standing wall displaying panels reading “Zionism=Racism” and declaring the whole of Israel to be “occupied territory.”

A number of university groups and off-campus organizations agreed to co-sponsor or participate in iFest, including CAMERA, Hasbara Fellowships, Stand With Us, ZOA, and the Jewish Federation of Orange County. On-campus participants included chapters of AEPi, AEPhi, Chabad and Hillel. Darwish’s speech was scheduled to take place Tuesday, May 6, as part of a Yom Ha’atzmaut festival, which commemorates Israel Independence Day. 

However, according to Narvy, a meeting was convened last week, which he was not invited to, between representatives from Hillel, representatives from the Jewish Federation and campus police. Police were seeking to resolve security management issues due to a simultaneous campus visit from new University of California President and former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Officers believed that both Napolitano and Darwish would attract protesters and careful planning would be required to accommodate both events.

After the meeting, AFI was told that Hillel and the Jewish Federation did not want to sponsor iFest and that funds for a Shabbat dinner would be withdrawn if Darwish’s speech would be a part of iFest activities. Narvy also alleges that Hillel cast Darwish as a divisive speaker, an Islamophobe and an extremist and urged Hillel board members and on-campus organizations in the Jewish community to oppose the talk and withdraw affiliation. “The clubs who were told about Nonie as a speaker told us they would join Hillel’s boycott and withdraw from any participation in a week-long celebration of Israel if Nonie was invited to speak on campus,” Narvy said. In the process, Narvy says, AFI was smeared for promoting extremist programming. 

In a response to a request for comment, Hillel leadership stated:

The decision by several Jewish campus organizations and their community partners not to endorse Ms. Darwish’s talk resulted from concerns over the time, place and manner of her proposed presentation in light of another event scheduled to take place on campus that day.  Those concerns were shared with AFI, along with the suggestion that Ms. Darwish speak either that same day in a different venue, or on another day.  I received an e-mail from Daniel Narvy that stated, “The AFI board decided that Nonie Darwish will NOT be speaking during iFest because we do not want to have any events that cause a division in our community.”

Jewish campus organizations and their community partners, in partnership with the UCI administration, have worked hard to improve the campus climate for Israel and Jewish students.  We will continue to take actions that serve the long-term best interests of the campus community. 

Narvy, however, says he was told by campus police that they would help accommodate security at both Napolitano’s and Darwish’s speeches. Hillel did not respond to follow-up questions on what the specific concerns were regarding the time, place and manner of Darwish’s presentation or whether Hillel encouraged opposition to Darwish over her alleged Islamophobia and extremism. Neither did Hillel explain to AFI, when pressed, exactly why it did not want Darwish to speak, Narvy reports.

The UCI Hillel chapter and the Orange County Jewish Federation have their own history of controversy with extremists, particularly virulently anti-Israel individuals. In 2010 the UCI Hillel student president was criticized for promoting a campus talk by a co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a group that has endorsed violence and “armed resistance” against Israel and whose activists have been photographed with assault weapons in the company of Palestinian operatives. 

The OC Jewish Federation has provided funding for a campus group called the Olive Tree Initiative (OTI), which organized a secret meeting between students and Hamas leader Aziz Duwaik in 2009. The OTI offers trips to Israel for students to meet with pro-Israel speakers as well as major leaders in the anti-Israel movement, such as Mazin Qumsiyeh, a BDS movement co-founder who likens Israel to Nazi Germany and Apartheid South Africa, and George Rishmawi, a co-founder of the ISM and tour guide for the OTI.

Although disappointed, Narvy is not surprised by the turn of events. He says that throughout his time at UC Irvine, Hillel administrators have blocked his attempts to obtain leadership positions. When Narvy wanted to run for president of AFI, which was taken over by Hillel from 2011-13, Narvy says Hillel deviated from the club’s protocol and that Hillel staff and select students decided on leadership without formally holding elections in which he could run.

Narvy said Hillel expressed concerns about the direction he would lead clubs as a politically conservative and traditional Jewish student. “Hillel has [its own] political and religious agenda and, as we have seen, Hillel will censor and in this case sanction people who deviate from Hillel’s narrow-minded political agenda.” 

While Narvy says the tactics and financial strong-arming used to quash the Darwish talk are reprehensible, he is less frustrated by Orange County Hillel than he is with Hillel International and “their liberal political agenda and their deviations from Torah-based Judaism.”  These problems are becoming widespread. At the University of Calgary in Canada, Hillel also blocked Darwish from coming to campus. As Calgary student Samantha Hamilton stated, “Hillel no longer represents the Zionist students on campus. It intimidates the students who do not agree with not saying anything or doing anything in the face of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.”

Despite his problems with Hillel, Narvy thinks it is important to note that UC Irvine’s Jewish and pro-Israel community have drastically improved since he has been on campus. He also appreciates the UCI Hillel program director’s work with students and does not believe the director played a role in the decision to block Darwish’s talk. Higher levels of Hillel, however, are another matter. “It is extremely unfortunate that, rather than enabling and empowering the Jewish students on campus who want to make a difference, Hillel’s stance is to fight against them and attempt to control their decisions,” Narvy said. “Hillel claims to be the Jewish student union on campus; with these type of actions, clearly it is not.”

Nichole Hungerford is associate editor of FrontPage Magazine. 

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  • JackSpratt

    And Rutgers forced Condi Rice to cancel her commencement speaking engagement. Fascism is alive and well on the left. You could ask Ann Coulter, David Horowitz, et al about that crap too. The left doesn’t want to have to juxtapose viewpoints. They don’t want to hear anything that challenges their predisposed notions.

  • Bert

    The anti Israel elements of the Jewish left are becoming more hostile and operate inside the Jewish community. Witness JStreet’s attempt to infiltrate the Conference of Presidents. The hostile Jewish left is organized and active. The pro Israel forces inside the Jewish community are overdue to organize and rebuff the traitors within our midst.

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    • Habbgun

      Yes but a lot of what conservatives would be fighting against is loaded against them. Committee versus Committee, Campus speech versus Campus Speech. Secular self-aggrandizing organization versus Secular self-aggrandizing organization….ad infinitum… As long as you are making protests in the manner they prefer, you are playing into their hands. They want sound and fury on campus, in media and in politics. Loud and nasty as long as the outcomes are predetermined. To win you have to fight the corruption underneath. It is not enough to fight the anti-Israel campus. The hatred is just a symptom of the underlying moral and financial corruption in the university system. How about reforming higher ed itself? Jewish conservatives must demand underlying reform. Not hit the Left piecemeal.

      We also must demand that our leadership be earned. We have way too many self-appointed leaders whose “Jewish leadership” is in opposite proportion to their Jewish practice.

  • StanleyT

    The left’s definition of free speech: anything I agree with. Anything else is strictly verboten and shall not be allowed to be spoken.


      Certainly true in the UK.

      See Paul Weston.

  • ahad_ha_amoratsim

    So was Hillel’s concern over the time, place and manner of her proposed presentation (and if you believe that, I have an business opportunity email that may interest you, from the widow of a forrmer high official in the Nigerian government), or was it due to a concern that her speech would cause a division in our community? Am I the only one who sees a contradiction here?

  • hashimoto

    Conservative Jews have to rise up!!!

  • Hard Little Machine

    In a somewhat related front – A California school district was forced to back away from a mandatory assignment preaching holocaust denial once it was made widely known that was what they were doing.


    • http://forbiddenterritories.com/profile/Isahiah62 Isahiah62

      but the Muzzies educating USA kids into hate ISREAL propaganda is not over b/c NO ONE WAS FIRED- more much more needs to be looked at where Muslims are indoctrinating our kids the GAZA way

    • E Plobnista

      The superintendent of that district is named Mohammed Islam. A coincidence?

  • Reuven

    The treasonous Jewish left is a curse. But we can and will defeat it.


      Why focus on the “Jewish” left?

      Why not all of the left?

  • Shel_Zahav

    The American university is the modern purveyor of Nazzism.

  • svetistephen

    What an image change from my time at university (a million years ago). Hillel was where apolitical Jewish nerds went to try to get laid. One could almost feel nostalgia for that world. Now it’s where intolerant Jewish leftist automatons practice treason.

  • Steve Fair

    A conservative Jew is almost as crazy as a conservative black. The same ideology that propels the modern rightwing is exactly what led to the Holocaust.

    • SandyLester

      Your key word: conservative – that appears to be your issue

    • American Patriot

      Shut the f**k up, uptownsteve. Your black nationalist propaganda has been disproven multiple times, you racist loser. Israel is democratic, you dunce. Quit trolling.

    • StanleyT

      How on earth do you arrive at the idiotic conclusion? Thousands of years of Christian and European anti-Semitism is what led to the Holocaust. Whether Jews were left or right wing, rich or poor, Orthodox or Reform made absolutely no difference whatsoever. They would have killed us no matter what.

    • Sam Scot

      Exactly. Only the opposite. The “modern rightwing” believes that God comes before the state. Socialists (including the Nazis) believe the state is above our duty to God. Countless American Jews defended the Soviet Union and Stalin—even though the Soviets persecuted Jews from the beginning. The atheistic Jews in leadership in Russia and here didn’t interfere. Poems against Nazi anti-semitism—yes, German anti-semitism—were still banned in Russia in the 1970s. I’m thinking in particular of one by Yevtushenko. Basically, anyone who doesn’t believe in God and believes in the almighty power of the state winds up anti-semitic. Not all anti-semites are irreligious. But all irreligious groups wind up being anti-Semitic, because . . . why not? Jews are always a minority who can be used as a bad-guy target. And to a Lefty, there’s no God to get in the way of their murdering hatred.
      Don’t like the Holocaust? You own it—you and your Lefty brethren throughout the 20th century.

    • ahad_ha_amoratsim

      One of the things that led up to the holocaust was two millennia of non-Jews demanding the right to tell Jews what every Jew was supposed to think.


      Stevie, still shucking and jiving, an uncle tom for some back slaps from a condescending socialist.

      You are a fool and a failure.

    • reader

      Why is this Jew hater allowed to post on a Jewish related thrread and my post exposing him as a Jew hater has been removed? This poster called Zionist propaganda the fact that the Jews lived in their land for thousands of years. He called himself a Catholic, yet he never responded to my question whether the Catholic Church is engaged in Zionist propaganda by preaching scriptures. He is a troll, an ignorant dumb*ass and a liar. A Very offensive one too – particularly by the depth of his ignorance – exposed here many times over.

  • Walter Sieruk

    The Islamic mindset is anti-Israel is because of the Quran which is anti-Jewish,Sura 2:65; 7166;5:60. the Quran is the result of the prophet and founder of Islam, MUhammad. It’s not so much the question “Was Muhammad a prophet ?” It’s better stated “Was Muhammad a prophet sent by God or was Muhammad a false prophet sent by Satan to lead many people astray?” After all Jesus did warn “Beware of false prophet which comes to you in sheep’s clothing but are inwardly ravening wolves.” Matthew 7:15. The Bible further warns that “many false prophets are gone forth into the world.” First John 4:1. To give the acid test if a prophet, teacher, or religion is teaching truth of falsehoods is if the prophet, teacher or religion has teaching and doctrines that are in according to God’s Word, the Bible. That if a person or religion has teachings and doctrines that are in contradiction to God’s Word then that prophet, teacher or religion is false. As Isaiah 8:20; explains “To the law of the testimony : If they speak not according to the word , it is because there is no light in them.” [KJV] Islam denies that Jesus is the Son of God. This is in contrast to the Bible which teaches that Jesus is indeed the Son of God, John 3:16, 17, and 36. First John 2:22, 23. Likewise. Islam denies that Jesus is God the Son. In contrast to Islam the Bible teaches that Jesus is God the Son. As seen in Hebrews 1:6-8 with emphasis on verse 8. Furthermore, Islam denies that Jesus is God. This is in strong contradiction to the Bible which teaches that Jesus is God. As shown, for example, in John 1:1-3. Romans 9:5. Colossians 1:15-17. First John 5:20. Second Peter 1; 1. Titus 2:13. Moreover, by comparing the Old Testament with the New Testament will further show that Jesus is God, As in by comparing Isaiah 45:22,23. With Philippians 2:5-11. Will show Jesus is God. Also by comparing Psalm 89:8,9. With Matthew 8:23-27 will further confirm Jesus to be God. Even by comparing the New Testament book together will confirm Jesus to be God. As in John 5:22 with Romans 14:12 will show Jesus to be God. The list can go on but this should be enough. The imams and mullahs will try to “explain” this all away by claiming that Christians had corrupted the Bible through time. This claim greatly underestimates the power of God to preserve His Word in time and keep it intact and away from the corruption of men. In conclusion, Muhammad was a false prophet and Islam is a false religion, Proverbs 14:12. John 14:6.

    • Ron

      Islam is not a religion, and Allah was a pagan moon god. Palestinians are Jordanians. There has never been a nation known as Palestine nor a separate ethnic identity known as Palestinian. It was a putely political invention to eestroy Israel.

      How is Darwish divisive when these IslamoNazis are calling for the extermination of all the Jews in Israel (and the restr of the world)?

      The Palestinian Nationalist Movement was a parallel to the National Socialist Movement, aka the Nazis. The leader of the PNM was the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in the British Protectorate called “Mandated Palestine.” The complementary Frenchc protectorate was called the “Madated Syria.” They were created with the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

      These pro-Palestinian groups are backed by Hamas – the homicidal government of Gaza who refuse to recogize a single Jew living in the land that has always been Jewish territory as there have always been Jews living on the land in Israel, Judea, and Samaria. It does not matter what foreign conquerers call it, it is, was, and will always be Israel, and the Arabs and Muslims are the illegal imperialistic occupiers.

      Judea and Samaria are not the “West Bank” as the lad on both sides of the Jordan was set aside for a Jewish homeland. Israel should annex Judea and Samaria and kick out both Hamas and the PLO (aka, the PA).

      A one-state solution. A unified Israel. Palestinians have a choice: either become an Israel citizen like the other 1.5 million Arabs living in Israel or go live in Jordan where 75% of the population is “Palestinian.”

      The Big Lie has to end.

      If Israel is forced to give any of its lands, then the Muslims should give back the millions of square miles stolen from thousands of cultures over 1,400 years of imperal colonial Muslim conquest that stretched from Spain to Pakistan. THIS MUSLIM LAND HAS NEVER BEEN PURCHASED. Quite unlike Israel which purchased all of the land the original settlers owned prior to the illegal invasion of the Aram armies in 1948.

      An armistic was declared in 1949 after the Arabs satarteed losing and every army was told to stand down. Spo wherever the fighting ended is where there is an armistic line.


      Israel has tried for 60 years to negotiate one but the Arabs steadfastly refused every single time.

      After the 1967 War, the Arab League made it their official policy to NEVER negotiate with Israel. Look up “The Three No’s of Khartoum.”

      There has to be a major push back against these radical leftwing colleges and universities that have become cesspools of lower learning.

  • http://longhornproject.org/ Robin Rosenblatt

    Hillel is run by uneducated Jewish cowards.

  • garyfouse

    Hillel’s defense does not hold water. First of all, I have seen Darwish speak twice at UCI and neither event had security problems. Secondly, she could have spoken as a member of Arabs for Israel and concentrated her talk on her support for Israel. How does that divide the community?
    The problem is that Hillel, the Jewish Federation, and its financial arm, the Rose Project, have conflicts of interest. If Jewish students decide not to attend UCi because of anti-Semitism on campus, they are all out of a job.
    Jewish students have the right to decide on their own whether or not to speak out for Israel depending on many reasons. What is reprehensible is when the so-called adults who run Hillel put pressure on Jewish students not to get involved when it comes to matters of campus anti-Semitism arising out of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. This is just the latest example.
    Last week during hate week, I was told by a high-ranking (adult) member of Hillel OC that everything is better now at UCI that years before, and Hillel is doing all these great things like IFest, religious dinners etc. When we told him about what we were doing to refute speakers like Amir Abdel Malik Ali, he said it was “counter-productive”.
    I may not have a dog in the hunt, but it seems to me that Jewish students who want to stand up for themselves need to rid themselves of organizations like Hillel and the Jewish Federation when it comes to funding.
    Gary Fouse
    Adj teacher
    UCI Ext

  • TerrorIsEvil

    Darwish, brought up in her Islamic religion to hate Jews,
    overcame her antisemitism to courageously defend Israel. Leftist Jewish
    students, presumably exposed to some love for Israel, have learned to hate and
    endanger their own refuge and homeland from their leftist teachers and peers. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano,
    heading a position that was founded because of Islamic terrorism, appeases and
    supports terrorism under her Muslim Brotherhood chief, President Obama. The big
    guy up there must be saying, WTF, how could Jews and Christians be so stupid
    and working towards their own self-destruction. Muslims must be thanking Allah
    for our stupidity and selfless support of those who want us dead..

  • ahad_ha_amoratsim

    Josephus, please call your office.

  • Lanna

    The Left always wants to silence truth….they stand on sinking sand as we will see in months and years to come!

  • bbm2643

    It is difficult for me to understand where you are coming from. Your comment is not rationally related to the article. And while I believe discourse is fundamental to the free exchange of Ideas under the First Amendment and to the strength of our Republic your comment is just a spew of Jew hatred. I do understand that you wanted a forum to state that you hate Jews and as such you have been given one.

  • Arn

    Fortunately Judaism, Israel and the Hebrew nation is now done with you. If you are a male I suppose the central ambition of your life now is to somehow reconstruct a foreskin.

  • StanleyT

    I have bad news for you. Considering our past, we have a brighter future than just about anyway. And our present ain’t too bad either.

    On YNet Ben-Dror Yemini wrote:

    “…there is one thing [Israel’s founders] definitely didn’t know: That the State of Israel would lead the contribution to humanity and would also become the most hated country by that same humanity.

    “For almost a decade now, Israel has been leading, or has been among the leaders, in global surveys about negative contribution to the world…

    “When we move from perception surveys to facts, the picture is reversed. Israel is one of the leading countries in the world in developingmedications and irrigation and water purification systems (the first place in the world in sewage treatment), in patent applications (first place in the registration of patents of medical developments) and in scientific publications (second place in the world in the three most important journals).

    “These achievements are not only a cause for national pride. They are mainly a contribution to humanity.

    “There is no index of ‘contribution to humanity per capita.’ But if there were such an index, Israel would likely take the first place. Millions of people owe their lives to the irrigation systems and agricultural products from Israel. Not just the Third World. Even California Governor Jerry Brown recently asked Israel for research and technological aid in order to deal with the severe drought. How does this contribution match the oh-so-negative image? It doesn’t.

    …Israel is far from perfect…But in spite of all the problems, Israel is a miracle. A state founded from 70 Diaspora communities, most of which did not know anything about democracy. A state of poor refugees which became a world power in agriculture and irrigation and water purification and high-tech developments. A state which does not live by the sword, but by research, development and entrepreneurship. A state in which the talks about boycott and suspending investments conceal the fact that it is the most invested country in the world, and in some fields not even just for its size.


    You are not “done” you are a loon

  • ahad_ha_amoratsim

    Thanks for the reminder that those who hate Israel hate Jews.