StandWithUs, UC San Diego Pro-Israel Group, Host Anti-Muslim Conference
by Richard Silverstein
Next week, StandWithUs and the UC San Diego pro-Israel student advocacy group, Tritons for Israel, will host a rather mysterious campus event. According to a speaker contract SWU uploaded to the web in March, it is a conference called, Rescuing Human Rights, featuring the Wall Street Journal’s leading anti-jihadi columnist, Brett Stephens, necon legal scholar Avi Bell who was one of the Goldstone Report’s harshest critics, anti-jihadi “human rights” lawyer Brooke Goldstein, and the anti-jihadi Muslim activist Zuhdi Jasser. He was the founder of the American-Islamic Forum for Democracy, and featured star of several Clarion Fund Islamophobic films including Obsession and Third Jihad.
Mid-May is Apartheid Week across many American campuses and the suitable pro-Israel response seems to be to host events accusing Muslims of being the dark forces of the universe. That appears to be the origin of this pro-Israel campus event on May 15th.
Why is this so mysterious? Because I can’t find any online record of this event. I do know thanks to a tweet in his Twitter timeline that Zuhdi Jasser, at least, will be speaking on campus next week. Jasser is the go-to figure for the pro-Israel neocon right whenever it needs a Muslim who excoriates other Muslims who aren’t sufficiently right-wing or patriotic. He is a devout supporter of Israel and also supported the NYPD’s illegal surveillance of local Muslim community members. Jasser also makes common cause with the Tea Party types and has publicly attacked Muslim Americans running for office as Democrats and engaged in Muslim baiting. In short, Zuhdi Jasser is “our” sort of Muslim, a “moderate” one who can be counted on as a bulwark against the swarms of jihadist Muslims seeking to overrun western civilization.
StandWithUs’ speaker contract guarantees Jasser $4,250 for his May 15th campus appearance plus hotel and travel expenses. These fees will be jointly paid by SWU and Tritons for Israel. However, I found a UC San Diego student fund allocation for $4,280 for this event that went to Tritons for Israel. This may be funding Jasser or the other three speakers listed Students at UDSD will be interested to know that their student fees are paying for an Islamophobic campus hate fest.
Interestingly, I’ve found no online reference to the event itself notifying anyone where or when it will be held. I’m not even sure the conference for which funding was requested in April is still happening (though Jasser is certainly speaking). My guess is the sponsors are trying to keep it under the radar so it won’t generate the off-campus visibility I’m trying to offer to it here. They’re probably trying to isolate the promotion to campus. But I hope the local Arab/Muslim community will find out about this shandeh and turn out en masse to let the community know that it won’t stand still and allow Islamophobes define them.
In researching this post, I discovered that another ersatz pro-Israel human rights group, the UK’s Henry Jackson Society has held confabs featuring the same name for the past few years. They’ve also produced an essay by that name, written by a pro-Israel Tory solicitor arguing that international human rights law as practiced in Europe is fahrkochteh and should be scrapped. Of course, what especially irks him is that Israeli generals and politicians with blood on their hands may be arrested and indicted for war crimes if they step foot on British soil. This is yet another example of the international nexus of pro-Israel advocacy groups who take cover under the guise of human rights, but whose agenda is serving as a promoter of Israel’s nationalist agenda and an apologist for its faltering human rights record.
Source: Tikkun Olam
Richard Silverstein has just added an update with more information on this event. He says
Thanks to Audrey Jacobs of StandWithUs, I’ve managed to confirm that the far-right Israel advocacy group is indeed sponsoring Rescuing Human Rights, and that the program will feature four controversial figures in the national anti-jihadi movement. This event is part of Israel Awareness Week on campus. This in turn is directly connected to Israel Apartheid Week held at the same time. One of SWU’s key missions is to take the pro-Israel message directly to those it considers enemies on campus. Getting in the face of campus Muslim or Palestinian groups is SWU’s stock-in-trade.
SWU has done us the favor of uploading three of the speaker agreements between Tritons for Israel and SWU indicating they’re paying Zuhdi Jasser $4,250 plus hotel and travel, and Brooke Goldstein $3,500 plus expenses. She, by the way,founded the Lawfare Project and is an attorney for the Dutch Muslim-hater, Geert Wilders. The Wall Street Journal’s Brett Stephens is being paid $8,500 plus expenses. Avi Bell, who teaches law at the Catholic institution, the University of San Diego may be speaking gratis. That’s well north of $20,000 if you include speaker expenses and rental of Price Theater, where the event will be held. A good part of this comes from student fees, meaning that all students, including those who are Muslim, are supporting this hate fest.
The SWU promotional material notes the “inspiration” for the title and substance of the event supposedly comes from a Wall Street Journal column Stephens wrote, The Decline of Human Rights. One of the key “bright ideas” in the piece is that there are “too many” human rights. By allowing every Tom, Dick and Harry to claim their rights have been abused, we’ve cheapened the principle. It’s something akin to the argument that there are too many sex discrimination or rape claims made in courts because every woman has come to see them as her meal ticket. Yup, pretty damn offensive.
Also, don’t expect the WSJ columnist to note among the egregious examples of the abuse of human rights some offered by the pro-Israel community. Civil rights complaints brought by pro-Israel students against Columbia University and UC Berkeley have been dismissed. This entire new approach is championed by former Bush administration “civil rights” official, Kenneth Marcus, whose hopes to plough new ground by making criticism of Israel into a human rights violation have so far been frustrated. Marcus wants to turn “anti-Israelism” into a synonym for anti-Semitism with so far almost no one outside pro-Israel apologists buying it.
Another cheapening of the concept of human rights comes from those like another conference participant, Brooke Goldstein, who popularize the faux concept of lawfare. The premise of her organization seems to be, roughly that Muslims are so evil that they’re not entitled to human rights; or that by it’s very nature, Islam makes a mockery of human rights.
After reviewing Stephens’ piece, it seems to me that he filched some of his ideas from, and that the title for the UCSD event comes from the Henry Jackson Society essay, Rescuing Human Rights, which I referred to in yesterday night’s post.
In order to bolster Zuhdi Jasser’s Muslim bona-fides, SWU calls him a “devout” Muslim. In fact, Jasser’s own promotional material make this claim. I wouldn’t trust his claims as far as I could throw ‘em unless they were independently verified.
SWU and like-minded anti-jihadi pro-Israel groups are quick to point out the supposed international Muslim conspiracy to topple western civilization and replace it with a caliphate or Sharia law (depending on which anti-Muslim extremist you talk to). What few people are noticing is that there is a similar coordinated international pro-Israel campaign financed and directed in large part by the Israeli government. Though the pro-Israel cabal at times maintains its own initiative, funding and agenda.
This is far more than lobbying. It’s much more akin to the surreptitious surveillance and flacking for war against Iran which I described in my posting about the work on which Shamai Leibowitz and I collaborated. In the current case, we can call this an all-out campaign to legitimize Israel and in the process delegitimize anything or one that stands in the way.
The May 15th conference is a perfect example. Human rights are a terrific thorn in the side of Israel. If SWU and HJS can redefine and defang the contemporary concept of human rights then Israel will once more be able to stand tall in the international community. In fact, this program doesn’t “rescue human rights.” It destroys human rights as a robust principle for reining in the worst excesses of authoritarian regimes. If conferences like this “rescue” anything it’s state-sponsored torture (see last night’s post) and murder (see my critique of John Brennan’s apologia for targeted killing and dronicide).
The premise of the pro-Israel anti-jihadis is that western civilization is at war with Islam (they claim only “radical Islam,” but make little or no distinction between the two). In such a war, there must be a no-holds barred approach to terror, since the Islamists know the weaknesses in our system and exploit it to their advantage. That’s why we need to emulate Israel and kill and torture more bad guys. There’s only one way to stop them. By being tougher and meaner than they are. That’s why human rights as currently defined are not only expendable, but inimical to the SWU anti-jihadi world view. So bring on torture, bring on targeted killings as long as they get the bad guys–except when they miss and get a few of the innocents. But can any Muslim truly be innocent?
Returning to pro-Israel flackery, some of my pro-Israel readers are fond of pointing out that lobbying is as American as apple pie. Indeed it is. But Israel’s activities and that of its “Amen choir” is more than lobbying. It’s no holds barred pull out all the stops advocacy. It skirts the bounds of propriety and even legality at times. It’s opaque, often mendacious, always slick and slimy.
64-Member Coalition Opposes Zuhdi Jasser’s Appointment to USCIRF http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/64-member-coalition-opposes-zuhdi-jassers-appointment-to-uscirf
Charges Against Catholic University Were Not Made by Muslims http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/frivolous
Zuhdi Jasser-AIFD/AILC - Identified by Rep. King as Ideal American Muslim Leadership, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/zuhdi_jasser