Fear and Loathing in LA

An academic symposium on “Human Rights and Gaza” at UCLA turned into a hate-fest. One-sided scholarly papers by Hamas apologists led to raucus obscene chanting by the audience. Report. Op-ed.

While the four professorial talks were delivered and received quietly, interrupted only occasionally by applause, emotions escalated during the closing question-and-answer session.

Most of the questioners were adults, well beyond student age, and their softball questions about control of Washington by the Jewish lobby and how to divest from Israel were easily fielded by the speakers.

The mood changed when a few pro-Israel attendees got their chance, according to audience members. When Eric Golub asked Hajjar whether she would consider as prosecutable crimes Hamas’ murder of Fatah rivals, the use of civilians as human shields and recruitment of suicide bombers, the professor responded, “If you think I favor suicide bombings, then you have that Zionist hat on your head screwed on way too tight.”

Hajjar later retracted her comment, but her initial response was met by audience cheers and chants of “Zionism is racism,” “Zionism is Nazism,” “Free, Free Palestine” and “F…, f… Israel.”

Although there were no threats of violence and a policeman was at hand, when the meeting concluded, some members of the audience engaged pro-Israel students with further cries of “f… you.”

Shirley Eshaghian, a psychology senior and president of Bruins for Israel, said she left the symposium shaken.

“I never felt so unsafe on campus,” she said. “People were shouting, and I had this horrible feeling that I, as a Jew, was being attacked; that I was being called a Nazi.”

Dana Sadgat, an 18-year-old freshman in computer science, said she was also deeply upset. “This was not put on by a bunch of kids; this was run by an academic department at UCLA,” she said. “There was no speaker there for Israel; there wasn’t even one who was not against Israel. But this experience has made me even more pro-Israel.”

The two students agreed with other attendees that at no point did Slyomovics, the organizer and moderator of the event, try to intervene or urge the audience to observe a basic level of decorum.

UCLA’s PR machine says nothing about the hate.

A student report.

A faculty defense of the “august academic figures” says, “Simply because some in the audience (from all perspectives) were out of line in some groups’ sloganeering, the problems should not reflect on the excellent symposium itself.”

5 thoughts on “Fear and Loathing in LA

  1. How convenient that the writer of the “faculty defense” touts the podcast “for those who want to see for themselves.” However, she links to but does not explain that the 4-part podcast entirely omits the contentious Q&A session.

  2. When any group or nation is involved in a struggle for its very existence there is bound to be very intense “hatred” on both sides. Since 1948 Israel has slowly and methodically taken over the lands of the Palestinians through illegal settlements which even the Untited Nations has condemned. Should anyone be surprized that there was “hatred” expressed by the pro-Palestinian supporters at the symposium. Feeling always run high when wars of survival are involved.
    Bill Diehl

    • Why put “hatred” in scare quotes? Their hate seems pretty palpable as reported. At other recent pro-Hamas rallies we’ve seen people saying Hitler had the right idea. And at this UCLA symposium the organizers did nothing to bring order to the mob.

  3. Scare quotes? I am only quoting your hate-fest description. I am agreeing with you that there is hate. But the hate is on both sides. That is all I was pointing out. The Palestinians are the ones being put into gettos now due to the wall. Am I wrong? Don’t they have the right to hate the Zionist invaders of their land? There is a time for peace and there is a time for war. Who started the war? Who are the invaders? Many of the Palestinian farmers have deeds which go back as far as the Ottoman Empire. It was the Lord Himself who allowed the destruction of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple. The land is no longer a homeland for the Jews since AD 70 and God’s elect are no longer of the circumcision of the flesh.

    • “The Palestinians are the ones being put into gettos now due to the wall. Am I wrong?”

      And why? Because terrorist attacks were being launched against civilians, and the Palestinian Authority either refused to or was not able to stop them. Any government’s primary obligation is to protect its own people.

      “There is a time for peace and there is a time for war. Who started the war?”

      In 1948 it was the surrounding Arab nations, who rejected the UN plan.

      “Many of the Palestinian farmers have deeds which go back as far as the Ottoman Empire.”

      And many of them are grandchildren of Bedouin tribes that only came into Palestine after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire. And many are Egyptian or Jordanian or Syrian citizens abandoned by their lawful governments.

      “The land is no longer a homeland for the Jews since AD 70 and God’s elect are no longer of the circumcision of the flesh.”

      Were they kicked out after 70? No, all that happened then was that the temple was destroyed. Were they kicked out after 135, the second war? No, only out of Jerusalem itself, which became Aelia Capitolina. Many of them (and the descendants of the early Church, too) have been living there consistently since that time. That’s the historical record. Yes, there was a great influx after the creation of Zionism in the 19th century, but that doesn’t erase the fact that many never left.

      As to theology, the New Testament doesn’t say the church replaces Israel. It says instead that through faith in Christ Gentiles are grafted into the Abrahamic olive tree. And “all Israel will be saved.” Romans still sees some significance for the Jewish people. Now, does this mean that Zionism and the current state of Israel are therefore untouchable, or an article of Christian faith? No.

      It seems like your reading of history is driven by some theological presuppositions about the Jewish people. Be careful … those same theological presuppositions caused a lot of mischief over the past 2000 years.

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