Letter from Letter from Gary Fouse, a teacher at UCI
"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act" George Orwell
Dear Rabbi Fischer,
My name is Gary Fouse, and, as you know, I am a part-time teacher at UCI and run a blog called Fousesquawk. I have received a copy of your letter in which I am mentioned as well as some of my observations. Though I was not involved in the letter from the community member you quote, I would like to make it clear where I stand on the relevant issues which are at the center of the controversy.
Let me speak first about the question of anti-Semitism at UCI. I have stated repeatedly that 99% of the students at UCI are not involved in any anti-Semitic activity or speech. As you probably know, most of our students are Asian-American and they are a delight to have at UCI. Certainly, Jewish students can go about their activiites at UCI without hassles.
The problems of which I have written are due to a tiny minority and take place during the annual Israel Apartheid Week in May or at any other time that MSU-sponsored speakers come to UCI. At that time, it must be conceded that there is an atmosphere of tension on campus where these events take place. Thus far, there have been no serious incidents of violence, but it is always possible.
There have, however, been incidents and hateful speeches that have occurred at UCI over the past decade. In 2001, Imam Mohammed al-Asi told a crowd, "There is a psychosis in the Jewish community. You can take a Jew out of the ghetto, but you can't take the ghetto out of the Jew." Those words can be seen and heard on Youtube.
A couple of years back, a young Jewish photographer, who was filming an evening speech by Amir Abdel Malik Ali, was followed back to her car, where she was blocked from leaving by several MSU males who
were trying to take down her license number. A female witness (who happens to be the lady at the center of this current controversy) was present and tried unsuccesfully to get the campus police to intervene. Her own car was sat upon by these persons as they tried to write down her vin number. As result of this incident, this
woman decided to get involved in the problems at UCI.
A couple of years ago during Israel Apartheid Week, a caricature of Ariel Sharon was attached to the mock Wall. It was drawn in the classic style of Julius Streicher's Der Stuermer depiction of Jews. It can also be viewed on my blog..
Of course, the many statements made by Malik Ali are well-documented including last May's statement at the flagpoles, "You Jews. You'all the new Nazis!",
Let me give you two more personal examples. In January 2009, I attended the Whither the Levant conference at UCI, which was 100% anti-Israel. Among the panelists was Norman Finklestein. During Q and A, I sent up a written question to the panel, which was given to Finklestein. My question was,
"In recent pro-Palestinian protests such as Ft lauderdale, LA and SF, many people were yelling, 'Jews back to the ovens', 'Long Live Hitler', and other blatently anti-Semitic statements totally unrelated to Israel. Will you condemn those statements and don't you think they discredit your cause?"
His response was that he was unaware of these incidents, felt they were exaggerated or committed by Zionists masquerading as Arabs. He then concluded this "answer" by stating that critics should " pull their heads out of their navels.' As the crowd of about 500 thundered in applause.
In May 2009, I posed that same question to George Galloway at UCI during his appearance. He interrupted me by calling me a liar as the crowd of about 800 thundered in applause. That exchange can also be viewed on my blog.
That brings us to the current controversy. I will be the first to admit that I have not only been critical of the university, but the Federation and Hillel. I will leave that aside. The central issue now is the appearance of George Rishmawi at UCI-sponsored by the Olive Tree Initiative. I think it's pretty clear at this point that this is the same man who was a co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement. Whether he is member now, his other
associations, the Siraj Center and the Rapprochement Center are all connected to ISM. Many will argue that he is a peacemaker. I have my doubts the fact is that it is legitimate to question the background of this man and, if they are objectionable, his connections with the OTI. I have been doing that and will contrinue to do so. It is also legitimate to question the wisdom of funding an enterprise that exposes young Jewish students not just to Palestinians per se, but to experienced activists who are really working for Israel's destruction. This entire division and controversy within the local community rests on the true nature of Mr Rishmawi and will resolved by the facts surrounding this man. It is indeed unfortunate that it has come to this, and I would hope that the personal rhetoric can be calmed down on all sides. I appreciate you coming to the defense of the lady in question. She is my friend and colleague, and I will
also stand by her if this personal attack continues.
Please feel to share this message with whomever you wish.