University of California Cancels Nonie Darwish Speech

Front Page Magazine reports the following:

nonie darwish1On the heels of Brandeis University’s controversial decision to rescind an honorary degree to women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, organizers of a week-long pro-Israel event called iFest, which is currently underway at the University of California, Irvine, say they have been forced to cancel a scheduled speech by Nonie Darwish, a prominent pro-Israel speaker. Lead iFest organizer Daniel Narvy, president of the campus group Anteaters for Israel (AFI), who will be joining the Israeli Defense Forces this summer, says Orange County Hillel was primarily responsible for the cancellation and that the incident is another example of Hillel’s marginalization of Narvy due to his conservative and traditional views.


Nonie Darwish is the founder and president of FormerMuslimsUnited, an advocacy group for Islamic apostates, and Arabs for Israel, an organization that promotes a positive outlook among Arabs toward the Jewish State and advocates for peace in the region. Darwish was born and raised in Egypt during the most tumultuous period of the Arab-Israeli conflict and is the daughter of Col. Mustafa Hafez, former head of Egyptian intelligence in the Sinai and Gaza, who led multiple operations against Israel during the 1950s. Due to his activities, Darwish’s father was killed by the Israeli military in 1956 by a mail bomb when she was 8 years old, which greatly impacted her negative views toward the Jewish State.

Nonie Darwish is among the prominent anti-Jihadists writing today and should therefore be supported.

Progressive western Jews must get beyond the cowardly fear of being called “racist” or “Islamophobic” if they oppose the movement of political Islam.  Islam is Islam and so long as it does not seek to impose itself upon the rest of us then I have no grievance, but when Islam is the heart of a political movement – which it most certainly is – then it becomes a problem for all of us who are not both Muslim and male.

This is why Barack Obama’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood is such a betrayal of his own alleged values, not to mention a betrayal of the United States, itself, given the fact that the Brotherhood is also the parent organization of both Hamas and al-Qaeda.

The late, great Barry Rubin certainly understood this.

What I think is that western Jews need, like Israeli Jews, to learn how to stand up in favor of our own best interests.  Western Jews seem to favor everyone but themselves and their people.  That is, progressive-left western Jews are profoundly in favor of women’s rights and Gay rights and the rights of all minority groups, except their own.

I am suddenly put to mind of Milton Himmelfarb’s famous aphorism that “Jews earn like Episcopalians, and vote like Puerto Ricans.”

It is not very politically-correct terminology these days, but it is still very apt.

What I see – and I know, of course, that many Jewish progressives would vehemently disagree – is a western Jewish community in the process of dividing itself along political lines around the State of Israel.  On the one hand we have the left-leaning Jewish western majority which tends to blame Israel for the conflict.  That is, the left-leaning western majority of Jews tends to think that the real problem is that Israel is occupying the “Palestinians” and until such a time as the Jews of the Middle East cease this “Occupation” then it will continue to receive the world’s reproach and the rebuke of the BDS movement.

In my view, the real problem is one of perception.  Progressive-left western Jews tend to believe that the Jews of the Middle East are persecuting the local Arabs and that this represents a very significant infringement upon human rights and it is an infringement that the world-wide Jewish community is largely responsible for because we allow it to continue.

Among those of us who participated in progressive-left western politics, this is the message pounded into our skulls on a daily basis by our supposed allies and colleagues.  Ultimately our friends on the left either condemn us for persecuting the innocent, “indigenous Palestinians” or are entirely indifferent to the struggles of the tiny Jewish minority in the Middle East, which is generally the case.

Among western intellectuals and political people, considering Israel is not the same as considering Japan or, say, France.   Among western opinionaters Israel is considered something of a shabby demon and many within the western progressive-left would not be the least bit sorry to see the country either destroyed in a brutally violent confrontation with the hostile Arab majority or simply dismantled into yet another non-Jewish, anti-American, anti-Western, majority Arab state.

What I think is that Jews throughout the world should stand up unequivocally behind our brothers and sisters in Israel because if we do not, no one else will.  That much is certain.

This does not mean that we should be uncritical.  I am, in fact, highly critical of Israel and am absolutely horrified that a Likud government under Benjamin Netanyahu actually released the murderers of Jews from Israeli prisons.  My disgust with this behavior is so profound that I considered giving up pro-Israel advocacy, entirely.  Why should any of us stand up for the Jews in the Middle East when their own government will not stand up for themselves?

That is a question that, perhaps, Netanyahu, himself, should ponder.


Michael Lumish is the editor of Israel Thrives and a regular contributor to Jews Down Under and the Elder of Ziyon.

About the Author
Mike Lumish is a PhD in American history from the Pennsylvania State University and has taught at PSU, San Francisco State University, and the City College of San Francisco. He regularly publishes on the Arab-Israel conflict at the Times of Israel and at his own blog, Israel Thrives ( He has in recent years given conference papers on American cultural and intellectual history at The International Society for the History of Behavioral and Social Sciences in Dublin, Ireland, as well as at the Western Historical Association in Phoenix, Arizona and the American Cultural Association in New Orleans, Louisiana. Lumish is also the founding editor of the scholarly on-line discussion forum H-1960s. He can be contacted at