Update: New photos, and full video coverage, at The Silent Majority.
Today I decided to return to my old stomping grounds at Brooklyn College in order to witness a lecture delivered by acclaimed polemicist, writer, political and human rights activist, and former leader of the new left, David Horowitz. Invited to speak by student leader Yosef Sobel, and sponsored by Professor Langbert-both of whom can be seen below-Mr. Horowitz delivered an impassioned, but unerringly rational, defense of freedom of speech, pluralism, and diversity, all values under attack in the Middle East and on American campuses-the primary theme of the evening.
He began by noting the extreme impediments he-and the people who attended his lecture-had to overcome in order to simply be in attendance. A particularly sarcastic Muslim student interrupted his introductory remarks-something that would recur approximately a dozen times during his hour long speech-to ask him why such security measures were necessary. His cogent response that these steps were “what checkpoints are about, making people feel safer,” brought a thunderous round of applause from the audience. I can attest to the thoroughness of the examination each person had to undergo before being admitted to the event. If only the federal government were as efficacious and watchful as the people providing security for David Horowitz, we wouldn’t even have to worry about potential domestic terror attacks.
Mr. Horowitz noted the planned-but ultimately abandoned-attempt by the International Socialist Organization to thwart his speech, making the point that college campuses have now become “the political base of the fascist left in this country,” and asserting that they were imperiling the foundation of our freedoms, which is the “ability to disagree in a civil manner.” This fact was reinforced by the spectacle of repeated disruptions to his speech by Muslim students, possibly members of a campus chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood offshoot known as the Muslim Students Association. The man seen below, who refused to condemn Hamas when confronted by Horowitz during the concluding part of his post-speech Q&A, is a perfect illustration of the intolerance pro-Israel, pro-American students face on a daily basis.
He was assisted in his failed effort at sabotaging Brooklyn College’s guest speaker by several female Muslims seated at the back of the audience.
Despite the adversarial nature of this segment of the audience, David Horowitz was able to continue with his presentation, the second part of which gave those willing to listen a brief history lesson in the contemporary Middle East, which he correctly pointed out was a colonial creation resulting from the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, a fact that most pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli radicals refuse to admit, even as they deny the historic ties of Jews to the Holy Land.
Refuting the libelous accusation that Israel, a land where Arab-Muslims enjoy more rights and freedoms than anywhere else on the planet, is somehow an “apartheid state,” he proclaimed that the opposite is the case, and that “the whole Arab Middle East is apartheid,” bolstering his assertion by recounting the eviction of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip by Hamas, which destroyed their agricultural equipment-equipment that was responsible for providing Gaza with 10 percent of its Gross National Product.
He linked the two strands of his argument together by describing the enormous obstacles he encountered when attempting to place an ad exploring the true nature of the Islamic Middle East in the UC Daily Bruin-the official campus newspaper of UCLA-whose editors labeled the proposed ad defamatory. He then questioned the Daily Bruin representative as to how delineating the actual stance of Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian and Egyptian clerics was beyond the pale, while the regular vituperation directed against Israel and Jews was halal. Of course, he never received a satisfactory answer to his question. However, you can visit the Palestinian Wall of Lies and judge for yourself the validity of the accusations routinely lodged by “Israeli apartheid” campaigners during their week of denunciation and vitriol.
One of the chief laments of David Horowitz throughout his speech was the lack of support he receives from mainstream, institutionalized Judaism within the United States. He cited as a glaring example of this problem campus Hillels, which should be a defensive bulwark against pro-Islamic, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda, yet routinely refuse to engage in the war that’s being waged against them by radical leftists and organizations such as the Muslim Students Association. He also broadened his attack to include the “interfaith” organizations that attempt to reach out to radical Muslim organizations, notwithstanding their checkered history.
The overall impression I had of the event, despite the repeated disruptions by anti-Horowitz, anti-Israel and anti-American agitators planted liberally throughout the auditorium, and a very pessimistic message delivered by the keynote speaker, was one of perseverance. David Horowitz reiterated the necessity of fighting for your beliefs, in spite of the long odds and remote chance of success, and standing up for classical liberalism and the ideals upon which our nation’s founding fathers established this country. I went away from the evening undeterred and hopeful that there remained a cadre of young students willing to engage in intellectual combat in order to see what they believe is right prevails, both on their own college campus and within the country as a whole.