- Anti-Israel student organization whose events regularly feature guest speakers who advocate Israel’s destruction
The Muslim Student Union (MSU) at the University of California – Irvine (UCI) was founded in 1992 by a small group of Muslim students who “desired to establish an Islamic presence on campus.” Today MSU seeks to provide a “community” or “family” atmosphere for Muslims enrolled at UCI, and “to build an environment that enhances good, discourages bad, and provides networks of resources, knowledge, people, and companionship to its members.” Toward these ends, MSU offers “daily congregational prayers at least three times a day, as well as weekly jummah prayers on campus.” It also provides career advice and a study/tutoring program to help Muslims at UCI.
MSU’s contempt for Jews and Israel is profound. At the organization’s on-campus events, its members commonly wear green armbands to signal their allegiance to the terrorist group Hamas. MSU also has displayed posters on the UCI campus that equate the Star of David with the Nazi swastika.
In February 2001, MSU hosted the radical Imam Muhammad al-Asi, who told his UCI audience: “The Zionist-Israeli lobby … is taking the United States government and the United States people to the abyss. We have a psychosis in the Jewish community that is unable to co-exist equally and brotherly with other human beings. You can take a Jew out of the ghetto, but you cannot take the ghetto out of the Jew.”
In 2002, a sign posted on the UCI campus by MSU members stated: “Israelis Love to Kill Innocent Children.” That same year, MSU sponsored a speech by the radical Oakland imam, Abdel Malik-Ali, in the course of which he said: “Israel wants Palestinians to have their own state. It’s beyond that now. No. That’s off the table. One state. Majority rules. Us. The Muslims.”
On February 26, 2004, MSU again brought Malik-Ali to the UCI campus to deliver a speech titled “America under Siege: The Zionist Hidden Agenda.” According to UCI’s student newspaper, Malik-Ali suggested “that Zionism is a mixture of ‘chosen people-ness and white supremacy’”; that “the Iraqi war is in the process of ‘Israelization’”; that “the Zionists had the ‘Congress, the media and the FBI in their back pocket’”; and that “the Mossad [Israel’s intelligence agency] would have assassinated Al Gore if he was elected [in 2000] just to bring Joe Lieberman [his Jewish vice-presidential running mate] to power.”
In the spring of 2004, MSU and the Society of Arab Students (SAS) co-sponsored their fourth annual “Zionism Awareness Week,” during which members of both groups again wore green armbands to show their support for Hamas.
In June 2004, MSU asked UCI’s graduating Muslim students to wear green sashes bearing the word “shahada,” the Arabic term for the “martyrdom” of a suicide bomber, to their graduation ceremony. Two dozen students complied with this MSU request.
At a February 2005 MSU-organized event held in the center quad at UC Irvine, Abdel Malik-Ali stood at a podium bearing the inscription “Desperation of the Zionist Lobby,” and told his audience of some 150 mostly Muslim listeners: “Zionism is a mixture, a fusion of the concept of white supremacy and the chosen people.” He complained about Zionist control of the American media, Zionist complicity in the war in Iraq, and Zionists’ ability to deflect justified criticism. “You will have to hear more about the Holocaust when you accuse them of their Nazi behavior,” Malik-Ali declared. “One state. Majority rule,” he added, to rousing applause. “Check that out. Us. The Muslims.”
At a March 2006 event at UC Irvine, MSU led as many as 1,000 Muslim students in protesting the decision of the event’s sponsors to publicly display the “offensive” Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, cartoons that had recently set off massive demonstrations and riots throughout the Muslim world. In front of several television camera crews, MSU members began the protest by rolling out green prayer mats and reciting a prayer in Arabic. Many of them wore their customary green, pro-Hamas armbands. When a crowd of counter-protesters stood behind an American and Israeli flag and sang “God Bless America,” the Muslim students responded by chanting: “Hey Republicans Stop the Hate! All You Do Is Instigate,” and “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho! The Prophet’s Cartoons Have Got to Go!”
MSU organized a May 2006 “Holocaust in the Holy Land” event which consisted of four days of anti-Israel lectures and presentations portraying the Jewish State as the modern-day avatar of Nazi Germany. The keynote speaker for the event was the Holocaust-denier Norman Finkelstein, whose speech, titled “Obstacles to Peace: Israelis or Palestinians,” identified Israel as the world’s worst human-rights violator. Adjacent to a mock Israeli “apartheid” wall which they had set up in the center of the UCI campus, MSU students wearing leather sandals and taqiyahs (skullcaps) distributed fliers bearing the caption, “Exploiting the Holocaust to Justify Genocide.” A quote from Finkelstein himself appeared just below: “The Holocaust has become the ideological justification for the oppression of the Palestinian people.”
Other guest speakers at the week’s festivities included Abdel Malik-Ali, Muhammed Al-Asi (whose lecture was titled “Hamas: The People’s Choice”), and Rabbi David Weiss of Neturei Karta (whose speech was called “Zionism Hijacking Judaism).”
Abdel Malik-Ali was the featured speaker at an October 5, 2006 MSU event, where he told a crowd of roughly 200 cheering students: “They [Jews] think they are superman, but we, the Muslims, are kryptonite. They [Jews] know that their days are numbered.”
In May 2007, MSU held an “Israel: Apartheid Resurrected” week that featured twice-daily speeches and rallies condemning the State of Israel. On May 17, Abdel Malik-Ali delivered a lecture titled “UC Intifada: How you can help Palestine,” wherein he informed UCI’s Muslim students (who again wore green armbands as well as T-shirts reading “UC Intifada” and “Freedom Fighter”) that a martyr’s death is the most honorable form of death. “Victory or martyrdom,” Malik-Ali asserted, are the only two viable options available to the Palestinians in their battle against Israel. Refusing to recognize Israel’s existence, Malik-Ali referred to that country not by its name, but only as the “Zionist Apartheid State.”
In 2007, when a female student at UC Irvine decided to leave the Muslim faith in which she had been raised, she was ostracized and intimidated by other Muslims on campus. “The reaction was a lot of gossip and speculation about my upbringing,” she said. “Women who I didn’t know gave me dirty looks. … I don’t underestimate them. … The notion of a traitor in your own community is the worse thing that could possibly happen. There is no room for ex-Muslims in a Muslim society. The punishment for being an apostate is death.”
MSU invited Yvonne Ridley, a reporter and activist for Iranian PRESS-TV, to speak at UC Irvine on November 12, 2007. A member of the George Galloway-led Respect Party, Ridley supports divestment from Israel, a nation she has described as “that disgusting little watchdog of America that is festering in the Middle East.”
In April 2008, MSU sponsored an event titled “Never Again? The Palestinian Holocaust.” It included presentations bearing such titles as: “Blood on Our Hands: American Involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”; “Gaza: Life in a Cage”; “Rachel Corrie: The Spirit of Sacrifice”; “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine”; and “Death to Apartheid: A Farewell to Israel.” Among the featured speakers were Muhammad al-Asi, Anna Baltzer, Norman Finkelstein, Abdel Malik-Ali, Ilan Pappe, and the parents of the late Rachel Corrie.
In 2009 George Galloway appeared at an MSU fundraiser. Later that year, The Jerusalem Post reported that UC Irvine was launching an investigation into whether MSU had knowingly raised funds for Hamas — which would have been a federal felony — at that event.
In February 2010, Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren visited UCI to give a speech about U.S.-Israel relations. As soon as Oren began speaking, an MSU member stood up and shouted derogatory slogans at the ambassador. This was the first of eleven such disruptions — executed by eight members of UCI’s MSU and three members of UC Riverside’s MSU — during Oren’s presentation. Then, later in Oren’s speech, the dozens of MSU members in attendance rose from their seats in unison and walked out of the auditorium. (For a video of their disruptions and their exit from the auditorium, click here.) An investigation subsequently revealed that the disruptions had been planned in advance and orchestrated by UC Irvine’s MSU.
MSU’s bad behavior during the Oren speech prompted UC Irvine administrators to announce that the organization would be suspended for the entire 2010–2011 school year, and that its members would be required to collectively complete 50 hours of community service. When MSU appealed that decision, the suspension was reduced to cover only the fall quarter of 2010, though the community-service requirement was increased to 100 hours. MSU’s incoming vice president, Hadeer Soliman, said his group was “shocked and disappointed by the university’s decision” not to drop the punishments entirely.
In September 2011, an Orange County, California jury found ten Muslim students guilty of criminal misdemeanor charges for having disrupted Oren’s speech. The students were each sentenced to three years of probation, 56 hours of community service, and fines.
Each year since 2001, MSU has sponsored an annual Apartheid Awareness Week (AAW) whose purpose is to cast Israel as an “apartheid state” that routinely violates the human rights of Palestinians. In 2011, the guest speakers at AAW included Hatem Bazian, Matan Cohen (an Israel refusenik and anti-Occupation activist), Hedy Epstein, Michael Prysner (an anti-war activist with the far-left groups International ANSWER and March Forward), Alison Weir, and Dovid Weiss.
MSU produces a quarterly magazine, Alkalima, which in 2002 published a special report called “Zionism: The Forgotten Apartheid,” glorifying Hamas and Hezbollah as noble “resistance movements against Zionist aggression.”
On September 9, 2001, Alkalima and Al-Talib (UCLA’s Muslim magazine) co-sponsored a dinner at UC-Irvine to honor Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, a.k.a. H. Rap Brown, former Minister of Justice for the Black Panthers. Al-Amin was on trial at the time for having killed a police deputy and would eventually be convicted. A featured guest speaker at the dinner was a Black Muslim named Imam Abdul-Alim Musa, who called the United States “superior in criminality and Nazism,” and said, “The American criminalizer [sic] is the most skillful oppressor that the world has ever known.”
In 2006 Alkalima published For Justice We Fight, a pamphlet which stated that terrorist attacks targeting innocent civilians are entirely justified. “[T]he individual or community that participates in jihad finds itself between two blissful outcomes,” said the pamphlet, “either victory and the establishment of justice, or the reward of martyrdom and Paradise.”