UCSD Student's Remark Triggers Controversy

By Katia Lopez-Hodoyan
|  Monday, May 17, 2010  |  Updated 8:44 AM PDT
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Student's Remarks Trigger Controversy

Paul Collier

UCSD Geisel Library

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Student's Remarks Trigger Controversy

A Muslim student's answer to a question posed by a Jewish guest speaker has sparked controversy at UCSD.
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Once again, a passionate debate has thrust the University of California San Diego into the spotlight. This time over comments between a controversial Jewish author and a Muslim student.

On May 10, David Horowitz, a conservative author, known for lashing out against radical Islam, was a guest speaker on campus. He was invited by the student group “Young Americans for Freedom.”

The debate was meant to promote a healthy dialogue, but in the end it seemed to do just the opposite.

During the forum, Horowitz asks the student, a member of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at UCSD, if she supports terrorist organizations like Hamas.

She responds by answering, “Are you asking me to put myself on a cross?” The student then adds, “If I say something I'm sure I will be arrested. For reasons of Homeland Security.”

The exchange came to a head, when the guest speaker asked the student a loaded question.

“I'm a Jew,” began Horowitz. “The head of Hezbollah has said that he hopes we will all gather in Israel so that he doesn't have to hunt us down globally.” Horowitz then raises his voice and asks, “For it or against it?”

After a pause, the student leans into the microphone and answers, “For it.”

Yehuda Hadjadj is a Rabbi at UCSD. He says those comments made many Jewish students feel uneasy on campus.

“It was very painful for us to hear that,” says Hadjadj. “We have someone telling us that they will be hunting us down wherever we are and if we would all be in Israel it would be easier for them. It brings a very uncomfortable situation and atmosphere on campus.”

Some accuse Horowitz of having extreme views himself.

At the time of the speech, the MSA was taking part in "Justice in Palestine Week."

The event is meant to shed light on the region's humanitarian crisis.

Horowitz, reportedly linked the cause to terrorist groups.

Critics say, he even referred to the event as "Hitler Youth Week."

In a statement, the student apologized for her comments by saying, she didn't fully hear the question she was asked.

“Had I understood the nature of the question,” she wrote, “I would never have responded the way that I did- by providing an answer that misrepresented my beliefs.”

A UCSD spokesperson issued the following written statement: “At UCSD we strongly condemn any suggestion that violence, especially genocidal violence, is a legitimate political tool. We firmly believe that this one student's opinion is not representative of the opinions of the majority of our student body.”

Along those same lines, UCSD’S Muslim Student Association also sent out statement, which said no individual student can speak for the entire group.

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