It’s a blood curdling statement, “Long Live the Intifada.” That’s what students at UCI heard last month, when they gathered to see the movie, “Under the Helmet,” about a group of teens who are inducted into the Israeli Army. A mob of Arab students came out in protest. One student who came to view the movie hid out in fear after being followed by protesters, others locked themselves inside until the police arrived.
Since then, there has been a strong response, meetings with school administrators, and a pro-Israel protest organized by Chabad at UCI. “Under the Helmet” was shown again at a major event sponsored by Hillel, Chabad and others campus groups.
What does “long live the Intifada” mean? Some would like to claim that it’s a call for protest. For the dozens of victims of the more recent “knife intifada,” for the hundreds of civilians killed in bus bombings and acts of terror it is not about peaceful protest. “Intifada” is a call for war against the Jews, in other words what it really means is “kill the Jews.”
UCI Chancellor, Howard Gillman, issued a statement in response “that students had crossed the lines of civility.” Is it civility to demand to kill Jews? Would Gillman have been so politically correct if a White mob called for killing Blacks? I doubt it?
The first thing we as a community need to do is tell the real story, so others understand what is at stake here. Intifada means war. Intifada means terror, in particular, it means Arabs killing Jews. “Long Live the Intifada,” means ‘let’s continue killing Jews as we have done for the last hundred years.’”
We all recall when the same Arab group tried to stop Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren from speaking at UCI. What most don’t know is what happened in the back room. Faced with protest, Oren left the hall and was about to leave the campus. Worried he was leaving, I entered the back room where Ambassador Oren, the local Israeli Council General, the UCI President and Shalom Elcott were gathered. I turned to Oren and demanded in Hebrew he not leave (so the university president would not understand), telling him, “Jews don’t capitulate to threats.” The Counsel General responded “but he is the Ambassador” inferring it was not respectful. I forcibly told them “because he is the Ambassador he cannot surrender.” Oren returned and, at the end of the evening, thanked me for my support.
The point is clear: we cannot be quiet and let university administrators tell us that calling for the murder of Jews is a question of “civility.” Only by being honest and blunt can we truly expose the intentions of these particular Arab students. Yes they have the right to free speech, but we have the right, and the obligation, to explain exactly what they are saying.
Rabbi David Eliezrie is at Congregation Beth Meir HaCohen/Chabad. His email is email@example.com.