Media Mention of Hussein Ibish in The Press Enterprise - April 18, 2009 - 12:00am

The director of an Inland-based hate-monitoring group is calling on UC Riverside Chancellor Timothy White to denounce a recent campus speaker whom the organization accuses of anti-Semitism.

White said through a spokeswoman he will not comment on past statements made by Abdel Malik Ali, who appeared April 11-12 at the Muslim Students' Association western regional conference at UCR.

"This is a busy campus and he doesn't comment on every activity and speaker who comes here," said spokeswoman Bettye Wells-Miller. "Part of being a public university is to invite discussion of a variety of subjects and ideas."

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Special to The Press-Enterprise
Amir Abdel Malik, front, appeared April 11-12 at the Muslim Students' Association western regional conference at UCR. The organization says it invites speakers with a range of viewpoints.

Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino, said he strongly supports Ali's right to speak on campus. But he said White should condemn Ali's beliefs because his appearance at UCR and other college campuses legitimizes views that Levin terms anti-Semitic, including that Zionist Jews control the media and helped carry out the 9/11 attacks.

"I'm sure the Holocaust denial, flat earth and 9/11 conspiracy societies will eagerly embrace Chancellor White's dogged embrace of moral and intellectual neutrality," Levin said. "As Dr. King said, 'Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.' "

Levin also called on the Muslim Students' Association to condemn Ali's past comments.

Suhaib Alzubi, the president of Muslim Students' Association-West and a Riverside resident, said the group invites speakers with a wide range of viewpoints.

"We don't always agree 100 percent with a speaker," said Alzubi, a student at Cal Poly Pomona. "I don't feel you should expect an organization to take a stand on everything a speaker says."

Alzubi said the association strongly opposes anti-Semitism.

Students who attended the conference said Ali spoke at UCR on subjects such as inner change and did not talk about Zionism and Israel, as he has at past college appearances. About 400 people attended the conference, they said.

This was apparently the first time Ali, leader of the Oakland-based California Muslim Movement for Human Rights, has spoken at UCR. But past speeches at Muslim Students' Association events at UC Irvine and other campuses have also sparked controversy. Like White, UC Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake has been criticized for declining to condemn Ali.

Ali said by phone that he is not anti-Jewish.

"We always clarify whenever we say 'Jew' we say 'Zionist Jew' because there are many Jews who are not Zionists," said Ali, adding that there are "righteous Jews."

Zionism was the movement to establish a Jewish state in Palestine and now refers to support for Israel as an explicitly Jewish state. Ali said Zionism is a racist ideology that was used to expel Palestinians from their homes to create Israel. Zionists say Zionism is similar to other nationalist ideologies of self-determination, and that Jews are entitled to a homeland as other peoples are.

Ali said he believes Zionist Jews control the U.S. media, from publishing houses to newspapers to television and film companies. He claims Israel and Zionist Jews in the United States helped carry out the 9/11 attacks to create a backlash against Muslims. He supports a peaceful transition of the United States into an Islamic state.

Ali also said he supports the militantly anti-Israel groups Hamas and Hezbollah -- which the U.S. government considers terrorist groups -- including their killings of Israeli civilians. He said Israeli Jews are legitimate targets because they live on "occupied land" and are required to serve in the military.

Ali said those who call him anti-Semitic seek to discredit his condemnations of Zionism and Israeli treatment of the Palestinians. Many Americans unfairly label all critics of Israel as anti-Semites, Alzubi said.

Levin agreed it's wrong to label criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic, citing what he called "ridiculous" allegations of anti-Semitism against former President Jimmy Carter for calling Israel an apartheid state for its treatment of the Palestinians.

But Levin said Ali's comments go far beyond criticism of Israel, and he said the Muslim Students' Association condemnation of anti-Semitism is "an empty action" because the group has repeatedly invited Ali to its events.

Mark Potok, director of the hate-monitoring unit at the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center, said Ali "feels that simply putting the word 'Zionist' in front of the word 'Jewish' somehow exempts him from charges of any blush of anti-Semitism."

Ali's statements about Zionist Jewish control of the media and other institutions are standard anti-Jewish canards, he said.

"These are centuries-old and in some cases millennia-old tales about the Jews," Potok said.

Hussein Ibish, senior fellow at the Washington-based American Task Force on Palestine, said activists like Ali taint the entire Palestinian movement, causing some to conflate opposition to Israeli treatment of the Palestinians with anti-Semitism.

"To be a credible critic of Israel's policies and the occupation requires one to be a good-faith speaker and to be reasonable, and to not teach hatred and make things up," Ibish said. "This individual has spread poisonous hatred and irrational anger. I think it's unfortunate a Muslim student association would give him a platform."

Reach David Olson at 951-368-9462 or

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