I was not looking forward to my speech at Brooklyn College last night during “Israel Apartheid Week.” The campus atmosphere was so hostile to Jews that no student organization was willing to host my appearance, not even the Jewish organizations – and with 3,500 Jewish students on campus, there were several. My visit was only made possible by the courage of one professor, Mitchell Langbert, who reserved a room in the school library and the bravery of one student, Yosef Sobol, a Jewish immigrant from Ukraine who organized the event.
The college paper, Excelsior, is edited by a 9⁄11 “truther” who had declared on the Internet that a memorial should be erected to Mohammed Atta and the 9⁄11 terrorists and who had turned the Excelsior into an anti-Israel propaganda sheet. Despite the fact that the Jews who attend Brooklyn college are members of a minority who are the victims of eight times the number of hate crimes that are committed against Muslims – let alone Arabs – according to FBI statistics, faculty required all incoming freshman to read a single book – about discrimination against Arabs in America: “How Does It Feel To Be A Problem?” Faculty also hired an instructor who was an activist for Hamas and its terrorist state in Gaza.
For two weeks prior to my arrival an adjunct professor at the college had been calling on students and political radicals to protest my appearance, while denouncing me as a “racist” and “McCarthyite.” This professor is a Muslim member of the International Socialist Organization, a communist party that seeks a “dictatorship of the proletariat” in America. He urged students and outsiders to attack the event both outside the auditorium and inside it during my speech.
My bodyguard – a requisite at any campus at which I speak – called campus security two days before the event and was told the policy of the university was that protesters who tried to obstruct my speech would not be removed from the room. Consequently, I was fully prepared for the fact that I might not be able to speak at all and readied myself for the battle.
But then something totally unexpected happened. A trustee of the CUNY system, Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, was aware of Yosef’s efforts decided to intervene. He demanded that the university protect the students who had invited me and to see that their event took place. In all my years traveling to over 400 universities this had never happened before. As a result of Wiesenfeld’s intervention, there were seven armed and imposing guards at the entrance to the hall. They inspected each individual, wanding them and searching their bags before they entered. The campus Chief of Public Safety was there too, along with an official from the university who warned would-be protesters that they would be removed if they obstructed my speech.
And so I was able to speak for an hour in a civil atmosphere, and the students who came were able to hear what I had to say. Let me pause here to say that campus violence which comes exclusively from leftists and Muslim radicals, and the obstruction of speakers, which comes exclusively from the same source, would disappear if university administrators did their job and if university trustees met their responsibility to ensure that an appropriate atmosphere prevails on their campuses. Would that there were a hundred trustees like this one.
Brooklyn College is a commuter school and it was a blustery and rainy evening, but the library auditorium was filled with over 100 people, mainly students, virtually all of them either Jewish or Palestinian, with the Jews representing about 80 percent of those present. I began by asking everyone how it felt to go through a “checkpoint” – the “injustice” of checkpoints being a focus of recent demonstrations by the newly created “Palestinian Club” whose members constituted 20 percent of the audience that night. I said, “Well, our checkpoint made me feel safe, and that is the point of checkpoints – to protect the innocent from attacks by people who want to kill them.”
I then addressed the atmosphere of intimidation that prevailed at Brooklyn College as a result of the attacks by the anti-Israel and pro-jihad left. The Brooklyn College administration had ignored and thereby encouraged these attacks as had university administrations across the country in the face of a nationwide campaign by leftists and Muslim activists to silence those who opposed them. I recalled how Nazis and Communists in the 1930s had conducted a joint campaign to break up the public meetings of their opponents and how that had spelled the end of democracy in Germany and the rise of the totalitarian state.
I said the frontline battle in our present war with totalitarianism was the First Amendment’s right to disagree. When protests were designed to shut down speakers, when speakers were defamed in advance of their appearances, one side of the argument was effectively silenced, and if that were allowed to continue we would soon lose our democracy. I said the attacks on freedom of speech had already gone so far in this country that you couldn’t mention terror and Islam in the same breath without being labeled a bigot or an Islamophobe, accused of labeling all Muslims as terrorists.
Even President Bush who had heroically defended us against the attacks of Islamic terrorists could not identify our enemies by name for fear of offending other terrorists and their sympathizers and allies. He could not identify them as Islamic extremists or Islamic radicals or Islamic jihadist which is what they call themselves. I happened to be speaking on the day Congressman Peter King opened his hearings on the radicalization of Muslims in America and had watched the attacks on those hearings on my hotel television screen. I said we had reached a point in our country where we could not even make inquiries about the threat of domestic terrorism posed by militant Islamists who are responsible for 17,000 terrorist attacks since 9⁄11 without being attacked as “McCarthyites” and “bigots.”
This is the primary political strategy of all Islamic terrorists and their enablers – to identify anyone who speaks about Islamic terrorism as someone who is attacking all Muslims as terrorists. The terrorists seek to identify themselves with Islam, to hide themselves and their sinister agendas in the Muslim community and use its numbers as a protective shield. The charge that an attack on one Muslim terrorist is an attack on all Muslims is an insult to the Muslim community and abuse of its members. All Muslims are not terrorists but there are also not enough Muslims coming forward to separate themselves and Islam from the radical jihad, or to condemn organizations like Hamas. Here I mentioned a Muslim, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, who had testified that day and who said, “This is our problem, and it is our responsibility to solve it.”
Finally, I praised Wiesenfeld (but did not feel free at the time to divulge his name) who made the evening possible. He had struck an important blow for democracy at Brooklyn college against the jihadist assault.
I then read a series of statements by Palestinian leaders and by the spiritual head of the Muslim Brotherhood each of which promised to finish the job that Hitler started. Here are two:
Mahmoud Al-Zahar, founder of Hamas said in 2007: “There is no place for you Jews among us, and you have no future among the nations of the world. You are headed to annihilation.”
In that same year, Ahmad Bahar, Acting Chairman of Gaza Parliament said:
“Be certain that America is on its way to disappear,… Allah, take hold of the Jews and their allies, Allah, take hold of the Americans and their allies… Allah, count them and kill them to the last one and don’t leave even one.”
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know who these people are, I said. “They are Nazis, and they want to kill the Jews and destroy the Jewish state. Their goal is not peace but to push the Jews of Israel into the sea. On campuses all across America, I said, the Muslim and socialist left are chanting “From the river to the sea…” I was then interrupted by a voice from the audience who turned out to be the Muslim Marxist organizer of the protest, who completed the chant “…Palestine will be free.” I pointed out that the eastern boundary of Israel is the river and the western boundary is the Mediterranean sea, and that this was just another way of saying we want to kill you Jews and destroy your state and push you into the sea. They are Nazis.
I said the embargo on free speech is already so far advanced in America that we speak of a “peace process,” as though there was one. There is not a single Palestinian leader willing to recognize the Jewish state. Both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority want to “liberate” Palestine “from the river to the sea.” How can you make peace with people who don’t want you to exist? How can you negotiate a peace with Nazis who want to kill you? You can’t. You have to demand that they stop being Nazis or that the people who support them elect other leaders. I said we have to stop capitulating to the censors of our language and call things by their right names. That is the only way to have clarity and to begin to be able to defend ourselves.
I then asked why the left is willing to embrace Hamas Nazis who want to kill the Jews. Leftists would answer this question by claiming that Palestinians are oppressed, and that it is the Jews who are responsible for their suffering. The Jews stole their land and put them under military occupation and have since subjected them to all manner of indignities, like checkpoints. I then said, let’s put off the question as to whether there is any truth in these claims, and just look at the claim that suffering explains their resort to suicide bombings and their desire to kill the Jews and push them into the sea.
For thousands of years nations, ethnic groups, races and religions have suffered. They have been enslaved, they have been occupied, they have been oppressed. But never in the history of mankind until now has their been a people like the Palestinians who strap bombs on their own children and tell them to blow themselves up and kill other children, and that if they do so they will go to heaven and become saints. No other religion besides Islam makes murderers into saints. In the entire history of mankind no people has sunk to such moral depths as the Palestinians in their war against the Jews.
Let’s also look at the claims that Jews oppress Palestinians rather than the other way around. Let’s begin with biggest lie of the entire Middle East conflict – that Israel “occupies” Arab land, let alone “Palestinian” land. To begin with, there hasn’t been a political entity or state called Palestine since Roman times, when Rome affixed the name Philistina (or “Palestine) to the homeland of the Jews which is Judea and Samaria, which is today the Palestinian occupied West Bank. The Romans did this because the Philistines, who were not Arabs, were the Jews’ enemies and they wanted to humiliate the people they had conquered and dispersed to the four corners of the globe.
In the second place the entire region around the Jordan out of which Israel was created was not Arab and had not been for four hundred years. The Arabs’ claim to Israel is about as credible as the Dutch claim to New York. For four hundred years prior to the creation of the state of Israel – not to mention Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq – the land belonged to the Turks who are neither Palestinians nor Arabs.
The state of Jordan was also created out of what was called the Palestine Mandate, when it was administered by the victorious powers in World War I. The majority of Jordan’s population are Arabs who today would be referred to as “Palestinians” – a “nationality” created in 1964 to combat the Jewish state. The “Palestinians” of Jordan are ruled and oppressed by a Hashemite minority. But no one is calling for their liberation. That is because the true goal of the Palestinian liberation movement is not a Palestinian state (which has been rejected by the Arabs as recently as 2000) but to push the Jews into the sea.
I went on to discuss the other indefensible lies that make up the total case against Israel – for example that Jewish settlements are a problem. There are a million Muslim Arabs settled in the state of Israel, who enjoy more rights as Israeli citizens than the Muslims or Arabs in any Muslim or Arab state. If Muslim communities in Israel are not a problem, why are Jewish communities in the Arab world or on the West Bank or in Gaza? Because the Arabs and Muslims of the Middle East are racists and refuse to live side by side with any non-Arab or non-Muslim people. That is the straightforward, factually accurate, but politically incorrect answer. There were two democracies in the Middle East after the Second World War: Israel and Lebanon. Lebanon was actually a Christian democracy. Democratic Lebanon has been destroyed by the Islamic jihad and the Christians of the entire Middle East are under the gun or in flight.
I had encouraged the Brooklyn students to erect a “Palestinian Wall of Lies” (www.walloflies.org) that we had created to combat the malignant “Israel Apartheid Wall” that the anti-Israel, anti-Jewish left on campus was going to erect during “Israel Apartheid Week.” When the Brooklyn College administration learned of these plans they banned both walls. This is what a victory looks like in collegiate America today.
“Israel Apartheid Week” is a hate week against Jews, nothing more nothing less. Israel is, in fact, the only state in the Middle East that is not an apartheid state. Jews have created the only multicultural society in the Middle East, the only society that respects the rights of all ethnic and religious groups – and all genders as well. Jews have built the only society that respects women and gays. The very name “Israel Apartheid Week” is thus an obscenity whose only purpose is to demonize the Jewish state and make it vulnerable to the terrorist armies who whose rockets are poised to destroy it and whose goal is to push its Jews into the sea.
If this campaign had been directed against African Americans or any other campus ethnic group – including and especially Muslims – no university community would tolerate it. But because it is directed against Jews, Israel hate week is protected and funded by student governments and protected by university administrators. Moreover, and most disturbingly, the Jewish organizations on campus have been unwilling to stand up for themselves and to claim the same rights and respect as the groups who are attacking them. The Hillel organization on the Brooklyn College campus is 1,000 Jews strong but it would not sponsor our event. The Palestinian Club is 100 Muslims strong, but they came to attack it. Only one of the many Jewish organizations on campus – the Students United for Israel, a CAMERA funded organization – – was willing to co-sponsor the event.
By now you are probably wondering about the reaction of these members of the Palestinian Club who came to protest my speech. You are wondering how they responded to the detailed arguments I made refuting their claims and self-justifications or to my statement that while Palestinians were indeed suffering, the cause of their suffering was their own leaders and the Arab states who for sixty years have rejected peace because they want to push the Jews into the sea. The answer is that they didn’t. It was as though members of the Palestinian Club had not heard a word I said.
I have had the same experience on a score of campuses where I have confronted audiences, which included sizeable contingents from the Muslim Students Association, a front for the Muslim Brotherhood and a sister organization to Hamas, along with their leftwing enablers. The reactions at the end of my talks are always the same. The only way I can truly convey what happens is to recount a speech I arranged for the Dutch politician, Geert Wilders, who is under indictment for “insulting Islam” in the Netherlands. Wilders made very clear that he was not opposed to Muslims but to an intolerant and totalitarian ideology that demanded total submission to its doctrines and oppressed minorities whom it regarded as “infidels.”
During his speech Wilders turned to address directly the two dozen leftists and Muslims in the audience. He appealed to them saying “Look, I am doing your work. You say you are for the rights of women and gays. Under Sharia law and in many Islamic countries gays are hung from cranes and women are treated as chattel, denied education, and beaten with impunity by their husbands. I oppose the version of Islam that oppresses women and homosexuals. You need to do so as well.”
As soon as Wilders had finished his speech, the Muslims and leftists in the audience stood up en masse and started chanting “Racist, sexist, anti-gay, Geert Wilders go away!” and marched from the room.
So it was with the Muslims who came to protest my talk. When they went to the microphones to ask questions after the speech they all had one talking point and it was the strategic talking point of the jihadists: “Mr. Joe McCarthy” (this is how the leader of the protest actually addressed me, “you said that all Muslims are terrorists….” Others before him had made the identical charge bolted from the room. None had even made a pass a questioning the history I had reviewed or the facts I had presented.
What struck me afterwards was this. Every Muslim in the room was a member of the Palestinian Club; most I was told afterwards were from Ramallah. But not one of them spoke as a Palestinian. I had said that Palestinians had elected two terrorist governments to rule over them, that Palestinians were willing to kill their own children in order to kill other children, that their schools taught their children to hate and kill Jews, that as a people they had sunk to the lowest moral level in history. I had said that they were indistinguishable from Nazis. And not one Palestinian in that room stood up to defend themselves as Palestinians. To a man and woman they said, “You are accusing all Muslims of being terrorists.
I said to them, you are acting as foot soldiers for the terrorists – which provoked an outraged cry. I confronted the professor ringleader and said: “Will you condemn Hamas?” He hemmed and hawed and stuttered, and then began his evasion of the question, but everyone in the room who was not a member of the Palestinian Club knew they already had their answer. Yes these Muslim students from the “Palestinian Club” were all supporters of the terrorist war against the Jews.
There was one questioner who actually did offer an intellectual challenge to an argument I had made, and did make an attempt to defend Palestinians as an ethnic group – as opposed to a religious sect of Islam. This person was a Jew from Hillel who suggested that Japanese kamikaze pilots were akin to suicide bombers and therefore Palestinians were not the only people in history who had sunk so low. But, of course, kamikaze pilots were soldiers not civilians, and they targeted battleships and aircraft carriers not women and children in pizza parlors.
When it was over, I was glad I had come. I was proud of the small vanguard of Jewish students who had invited me and arranged my appearance, and come to my speech. I was proud of Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, the Jewish trustee who had gone out of his way to protect me, and the students who came to hear me. And I was gratified that they understood my message and would take it to the rest of the Jewish community at Brooklyn College: If we are not for ourselves who will be?
It is the same message I take to other campuses where my audiences are mainly non-Jewish. Israel is the canary in the mine. The chant of the Islamo-Nazis in the Middle East – shouted by millions – is, “Death to Israel! Death to America!” If we in America do not stand up for ourselves now, there will be no America tomorrow.