Explore the many ways to stay connected with Hillel through your favorite websites!
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.
Continue reading page: 1 2
David Horowitz was one of the founders of the New Left in the 1960s and an editor of its largest magazine,Ramparts. He is the author, with Peter Collier, of three best selling dynastic biographies: The Rockefellers: An American Dynasty (1976); The Kennedys: An American Dream (1984); and The Fords: An American Epic (1987). Looking back in anger at their days in the New Left, he and Collier wrote Destructive Generation (1989), a chronicle of their second thoughts about the 60s that has been compared to Whittaker Chambers’ Witness and other classic works documenting a break from totalitarianism. Horowitz examined this subject more closely in Radical Son (1996), a memoir tracing his odyssey from “red-diaper baby” to conservative activist that George Gilder described as “the first great autobiography of his generation.”