In a powerful blow to the anti-Israel movement on American campuses, the University of California at Riverside has canceled the Fifth Annual International Al Awda Conference that was scheduled to take place there on the weekend of May 24-26th. This marks only the second time that an American university has declined unconditionally to host an anti-Jewish hate fest that masquerades as an educational event about the Middle East (the other campus being Rutgers University in New Jersey in 2003). Such a cancellation comes on the heels of a new ruling by the US Civil Rights Commission that anti-Semitism on campuses has been masquerading as discussion of the Middle East.
Al Awda’s conference was set to be a training and strategy session for boycotting American and Israeli Jewish businesses — and even some American Jews — and for aiding the goal of extremists like Hamas to destroy Israel. Like Hamas, Al Awda’s motto has always been “from the river to the sea,” meaning the organization favors not a peaceful two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but the ultimate destruction of Israel and its Jewish and Christian population. Indeed, Al Awda’s founder once called Jews who live in Israel “a disease” and the group calls the founding of the Jewish state a “catastrophe”(al Nakba in Arabic).
At UC Riverside, this campaign of demonizing has come to a crashing halt. According to Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs James Sandoval, student organizers advised him “without explanation” that the event was being canceled. While Sandoval maintained that the cancellation of the event was the decision of the student organizers that included the Students for Justice in Palestine and Muslim Students Union at UC Riverside, both International Solidarity Movement-affiliated groups, the UC Riverside administration deserves praise for setting up ground rules that obviously made the event too risky for the organizers to conduct on campus.
Al-Awda has issued a press release announcing a change in venue. The convention will now be held at Embassy Suites Hotel – Anaheim South, 11767 Harbor Boulevard, Garden Grove, CA 92840. The convention will take place on the May 25-27 memorial day week-end.
Al-Awda explained that the new location was required because “unacceptable conditions were demanded by certain UCR administrators well after they had approved the venue.” Most outrageous for Al-Awda was that “the university administrators insisted that Zionists be allowed to attend the convention, and that they film the convention and its participants, a remarkable attempt at intimidation.” That the organization considers the mere presence of “Zionists” a scandalous violation of its rights speaks volumes about the anti-Semitic prejudices of the organization.
Among the confirmed convention speakers are:
Dr. Jamal Zahalka, new leader of Balad (National Democratic Assembly, al-Tajamu’ al-Watani al-Dimuqrati) who will discuss the current situation of Palestinians living in the areas of their country occupied in 1948 and in the context of the persecution of Dr. Azmi Bishara, former leader of Balad.
Leila Al-Arian, journalist, daughter of political prisoner Sami Al-Arian.
Dr. Naseer Aruri, former member of The Palestine National Council.
Elias Rashmawi, National Coordinator National Council of Arab Americans.
The above guests show no shortage of evidence for the group’s extremism. Among the attendees scheduled to appear at its forthcoming conference are supporters of Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations. One participant, Leila Al-Arian, is the daughter of convicted Palestine Islamic Jihad operative Sami Al-Arian, whom Al-Awda describes as a “political prisoner.” Al-Arian was convicted of murdering over 100 people as the American leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, some of his victims being Americans. Other evidence includes poetry on the Web by an international Al Awda leader exhorting murder and suicide bombings. On its affiliated websites, Al-Awda also promotes not only a boycott by the Arabs of Israeli businesses, but American firms simply because they have Jewish executives. American firms boycotted include Coca Cola, Home Depot, Blockbuster and Starbucks among others. Al Awda attendees, although mostly Palestinian Arabs, also voice their unwavering international support for the Ba’ath Party that supplies terrorists who kill American soldiers in Iraq.
Write Vice chancellor James Sandoval (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Chancellor France Cordova (email@example.com) and praise UC Riverside for doing the right thing once the truth emerged. Perhaps other universities will now finally catch on to the ISM and its affiliates like Al Awda. At the same time, get on the phone and send emails to the corporate offices of Hilton Hotel Corporation and the Mayor of Garden Grove and advise them the same type of boycott as this one against Jews planned to be hosted at Embassy Suites can also be done to the Hilton Hotel chain for encouraging such a Jewish hate-fest.
This Al Awda conference should be canceled–period. If UC Riverside can do it, so can Hilton Hotels.
Stephen F. Bollenbach, CEO
Hilton Hotels Corporation World Headquarters
9336 Civic Center Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
firstname.lastname@example.org, VP Communications
email@example.com, Manager, Embassy Suites in Garden Grove
Mayor of Garden Grove
11222 Acacia Pkwy
Garden Grove, CA 92840