My talk last night at the University of California-Irvine, on the topic of "The Threat to Israel's Existence," was disrupted just over 15 minutes into my lecture by what appear to be goons of an Islamist persuasion. Three videos on the internet document my remarks, then their response:
- http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7799137429880565337 (anonymous) covers all 53:29 minutes of my talk, from beginning to end. The disruption begins at 15:09 with the calling out of my name. I resume speaking at 17:25.
- http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5158780407631950723&hl=en (posted by Reut Cohen) offers 5:42 minutes of me, then the disruption, and follows the disrupters outside as they chant "anti-Israel" in conjunction with other slogans, such as "anti-oppression," "anti-racism," and "anti-hate." At one point, at 12:00, the leader predicts that "it's just a matter of time before the State of Israel will be wiped off the face of the map," in response to which the crowd, self-exiled, standing in the dark and the cold, yelled out "Takbir" and "Allahu Akbar." In response, those who remained in the auditorium chanted "Am Yisrael Chai."
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4939925831604188462&hl=en (anonymous) starts with the disruption, then jumps several minutes my replies to questions. For the wonderful standing ovation that followed on my conclusion, go to the 32:48 minute mark.
Michael A. Baker provides an account of the evening at "Daniel Pipes – in The Arena at UC Irvine." For reactions to the videos, see those at LittleGreenFootballs.com and JihadWatch.org.
(1) I had been forewarned that such a staged exit was in the works, so I frontloaded my comments, to insure that the Islamist contingent got a full dose of my thinking.
(2) This is the first campus disruption I have experienced in nearly two years, since the Rochester Institute of Technology in April 2005. I don't know if it's the specifically awful environment at UCI (what one of the chaplains terms a place where "hate and bigotry grow and spread like a cancer") or the moment we are in that accounts for this particular agitation; I tend to think the former factor counts most.
(3) I second the observation by "waterdragon52" posted at JihadWatch.org: "All these thugs have managed to do is to prove Pipes's thesis that we are witnessing a crash between civilization and barbarism" – a reference to my recent talk in London, "Radical Islam vs. Civilization." (February 1, 2007)
Feb. 4, 2007 update: LittleGreenFootballs.com has isolated the disrupters' rally outside the lecture hall on video and transcribed the speaker's comments, which I reproduce here.
I just want to say a few words, because I know a lot of people, before this program today, we had many ideas on how things should be done. And there was a lot of chatter going back and forth, and some people wanted to make bold statements, some people wanted to have a silent protest, [inaudible].
But at the end I just want to make one comment, that what we did by walking out of there, it really helps us be very very very powerful, and I want you guys all to go home and just realize, and that is everything, like Daniel Pipes is saying, everything for them is to boost their morale. This whole program was to boost their morale, make them feel as if Israel is there to stay. And that they're gonna ... he's trying to garner support for the state of Israel.
And by having a university campus, a bunch of students all walk out, this is trash, this is garbage ... it really defeats ... it deflates the morale of everyone in that room. So right now they're all pretty depressed in there. [Laughter.]
And they're gonna go out there and they're gonna think, they're gonna try to make people think they're powerful for a minute. But when they go home, they're gonna be like, crap. We're in the middle of America, we're in Irvine, a public [inaudible] ... and this whole campus hates our guts. [Laughter.]
They have no future. And it's just a matter of time before the state of Israel will be wiped off the face of the earth.
[Crowd: Takbir! Allahu akbar!]
Justice will be restored then. Those people who are there legitimately ... the people there will, will rule. There will be no injustice any more there.
So just keep on doing what we're doing. Our weapon, our jihad, our way of struggling in this country is with our tongues. We speak out, and we deflate their morale, and this is the best we can do right now. And our brothers and sisters on the other side of the world, they're handling business in their own way. May Allah give them strength ... [inaudible]
[Crowd: Takbir! Allahu akbar!]
Feb. 5, 2007 update: Reut Cohen, who took the second video listed above, wrote up the talk as "Pro-Israel Speech Finds Both Support and Protest From Students" for the UC-Irvine newspaper, New University.
Feb. 6, 2007 update: In response to a press inquiry, Jim Cohen, Media Relations Director, University of California, Irvine, released this statement today about my talk:
Mr. Pipes' lecture, which was sponsored by three student groups, was disrupted when audience members stood and started chanting in protest to his remarks. As university officials approached, the protesting audience members stepped into the aisle and peacefully left the building. The disruption lasted about two minutes, extended somewhat by other audience members voicing their support for Mr. Pipes.
There were no further interruptions and afterward, the hosts of the event went before the audience and thanked the university's police for its assistance on what the organizers would characterize as a successful event. Hope this offers some clarification of the evening.
Comments: (1) Had Fox News not inquired (in connection to my discussing the UCI disruption on its Hannity & Colmes show this evening), one has to assume the UCI administration would have said nothing about the incident.
(2) There is not a word of condemnation above of those who disrupted my talk, much less the horrifying statements their leader made outside the hall.
(3) The reference to the student organizer's having thanked the university police turns the incident up-side-down. He thanked the police for effectively controlling the problem, not the university administration for the lax atmosphere that permitted it to take place.
(4) This pusillanimity contrasts with the high-toned letter that UCI's Vice Chancellor Manuel N. Gomez delivered on the opening of the current school year, in September 2006:
free speech and its attendant responsibilities directly influence the overall quality of our campus life, from the most mundane to the most profound aspects of the intellectual work we do here. Without the freedom to explore and exchange ideas, even those that seem extreme or personally distasteful, we cannot bring all of our collective intellectual and research inquiry to complex problems. … the line between passionate engagement with the issues and personal investment in winning a debate is thinner than we often imagine it to be. … sometimes what you don't say can be as powerful as what you do, especially when what you have to say treads close to incivility. This invisible line between civility and incivility is not simply one of courtesy, but also of law.
I am not in any way suggesting that you censor yourself or anyone else, or that you be afraid that your right to legally protected free speech will be curtailed because what you have to say may not be popular. But I am suggesting – even urging – that you think carefully before you speak out.
Feb. 7, 2007 update: The transcript and video of the Hannity & Colmes show yesterday, "Speaker Shouted Down at U.C.-Irvine," are now available online. Also available today: the analysis of this event by Beila Rabinowitz and William A. Mayer, "Calls For Jihad Follow Disruption Of Address By Dr. Daniel Pipes At UC Irvine." The authors delve into the nature and activities of my Islamist opposition, and specifically the Muslim Student Union:
According to one of the organizers, the Muslim students had shown up early for the event and seated themselves strategically in the auditorium so as to be better able to disrupt Pipes' talk. …
Zahra Billoo, the Muslimah advisor to the MSA of Cal State University Long Beach [CSULB] published the call to disrupt the address, "Daniel Pipes is coming to Irvine! Come and help the UCI Muslim Student Union protest this racist Islamophobe." The contact person for the protest was Omar Zarka, a UCI engineering graduate who is on the editorial board of the MSU magazine, Alkalima which put out a glossy flyer prior to Dr.Pipes talk headlined "Exposing Daniel Pipes: The Truth Behind His Lies."
The Alkalima website format is identical to that of many hard core jihadist sites, offering polemics such as, "For Justice We Fight-Fight for Palestine." MSU's flyer even specified that all correspondence to Alkalima should be directed to the Office of the Dean of Students at UCI, giving both the group and its magazine official imprimatur.
Rabinowitz and Mayer then call upon the UCI administration
to withdraw university funding to the Muslim Student Union on the grounds that the organization is anti-democratic and stokes ethnic and religious hatred. We ask for a full inquiry into campus security practices which allowed a radical Muslim group unfettered access to a public lecture hall creating the obvious potential for violence. We ask UCI's administrators to consider whether such a laissez-faire attitude would be extended to a white supremacist organization conducting similar disruptive behavior? Until this matter is addressed UCI's administration including President Robert C. Dynes are guilty of aiding and abetting the MSU's efforts to spread Islamism. Through its inaction UCI is fostering an atmosphere of hate from which it is only a matter of time when the calls for jihad heard outside Dr. Pipes talk will be transformed into action.
Feb. 8, 2007 update: Reut Cohen, who took the video recording the goons outside, places my talk in the UCI context at "The Irvine Intifada: An Interview with Reut Cohen." Asked what happened when she followed them out of the lecture hall, Cohen replies:
My purpose in following the Muslim Student Union outside of the lecture hall was to record their position for the UCI community and for my readers. I did not want to taunt the MSU or disturb their protest (although the MSU would never be so fair and diplomatic with pro-Israel students). The MSU didn't expect anyone to follow them outside since it was so late and dark. They seemed preoccupied with chanting "Anti-Israel, Anti-Hate" until they saw me. I'm sure that they felt that their laughter, waving and taking pictures of me would persuade me to return to the lecture hall. I did nothing of the sort. I refuse to give in to silly scare tactics.
She concludes with a positive take on my lecture:
Despite the protests at the Daniel Pipes lecture, the majority of individuals who attended the lecture were pleased with the event and with the work of many UCI students and community members. In order to curb Islamic radicalism on the UCI campus we must educate those around us and expose the activities of groups like MSU, while having the courage to confront them when they slander Israel.
Zahra Billoo, California State University-Long Beach student.
Also today, MilitantIslamMonitor.org published an analysis of Zahra Billoo, the California State University-Long Beach student
who apparently organized the disruption at my talk. Information compiled at "Muslim Student Union and MSA call for jihad and disrupt Dr.Pipe's talk at UC of Irvine
" suggests she was present at my lecture and notes how this former president of her school's Muslim Student Association and member of its Campus Progressives Collective "straddles the Islamist-left alliance."
Feb. 9, 2007 update: Susan B. Tuchman, director of the Center for Law and Justice at the Zionist Organization of America, wrote a letter today to the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education citing my talk at UCI. I have posted the complete text here. In particular, she points to UCI's own regulations in "University of California Policies Applying to Campus Activities, Organizations, and Students," and how the university's actions in my case contravene three of those regulations, concerning my free speech, MSU interference in the event, and coercive activities.
Feb. 12, 2007 update: Reut Cohen refutes the Muslim Student Union at "MSU Shows True Colors," in the UCI student newspaper, New University, and provides a fuller version of the aricle on her own website, "MSU Shows True Colors." The newspaper also ran a letter discussing the MSU by Alex Chazen, "MSU Protest of Pipes Hypocritical."
Feb. 13, 2007 update: In the aftermath of my talk, the Hillel Foundation of Orange County has announced "Task Force formed to Investigate Alleged Racism and Anti-Semitism on Campus at UC – Irvine."
Feb. 20, 2007 update: UC-Irvine breaks new intellectual ground with a letter to the student newspaper titled "Calling for Israel's Destruction Not Anti-Semitic."
Apr. 20, 2007 update: I was forwarded a letter from the UCI administration about my talk, dated today:
From: UCI Student Affairs [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Friday, April 20, 2007
Subject: Response to your letter
I am responding on behalf of Chancellor Drake to your letter to President Dynes regarding the recent lecture by Daniel Pipes, which was sponsored by student groups at the University of California Irvine (UCI). Although this is not a university sponsored program, we have received inquiries, including yours regarding the disruption of Mr. Pipes' speech.
The university is taking the necessary, appropriate steps to address this situation. Any review of student conduct is afforded procedural due process that is guided by university policy and applicable state and federal law. If deemed necessary, action will be taken according to University policies and campus regulations.
As a public university, UC Irvine has the responsibility to assure that all persons may exercise their constitutionally protected rights to free expression, speech and assembly. This includes acts of nonviolent protest and dissent. The first amendment protects speech and expression that we may find deeply offensive or unpopular. To learn more about what UCI is doing to address these issues please go to http://www.vcsa.uci.edu/FreeSpeech/
I want to assure you that UC Irvine will be vigilant in protecting the constitutional free speech rights and the safety of all members of the campus community and visitors. Thank you for sharing your views and providing us with an opportunity to address your concerns.
Manuel N. Gómez
Sep. 12, 2009 update: Zahra Billou, the student who apparently organized the demonstration against me at UC-Irvine, now works at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) as "SFBA Programs and Outreach Director."
Zahra Billou, "SFBA Programs and Outreach Director" at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
June 14, 2010 update: The MSU could disrupt my talk, call me names, and discuss jihad plans with impunity in 2007 – but it crossed a line when it gave Michael Oren, the ambassador of Israel, a similar treatment on Feb. 8, 2010. The university administration has suspended the group for at least a year.
Comment: Better late than never, as they say. But does one have to be an ambassador to be properly protected from thugs and fanatics?
Related Topics: Academia, Arab-Israeli debate in the U.S., Converts to Islam, Daniel Pipes autobiographical
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