Anti-Islam Film on US Campus

Incendiary, intimidating, seriously flawed and unproductive were the terms used by American rabbis, professors and Muslims to describe a documentary screened on campus showing Muslims urging attacks on the US and Europe.

Anti-Islam Film on US Campus

"(It is) a way to transfer the Middle East conflict to the campus, to promote hostility," Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, director of the Hill Jewish advocacy group at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), told The New York Times on Monday, February 26.

"Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West," which was screened recently in UCLA, features scenes like the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Muslim children being encouraged to become bombers.

The images are interspersed with those of Nazi rallies in an attempt to force a linkage or association.

Norah Sarsour, a Palestinian-American student at UCLA, said it was disheartening to see "a film like this that takes the people who have hijacked the religion and focuses on them."

Adam Osman, president of Stony Brook's Muslim Students' Association, echoed the same sentiments.

"The movie was so well crafted and emotion manipulating that I felt myself thinking poorly of some aspects of Islam."

The documentary has become the latest flashpoint in the bitter campus debate over the Middle East.

"The situation in the Middle East has been a major issue on campus for decades, but the heat has noticeably turned up lately," said Greg Lukianoff, the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

At San Francisco State University, for example, College Republicans stomped on copies of the Hamas and Hizbullah flags last October at an "antiterrorism" rally.

At the University of California, Irvine, the Muslim Student Union drew criticism last year for a "Holocaust in the Holy Land" program about Israel.

Pro-Israel

"(It is) a way to transfer the Middle East conflict to the campus, to promote hostility," said Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller.

When no traditional film distributors picked up the documentary, the producer opted for screening it at colleges and synagogues.

"College students have the power with their energy, resources, time and interest to make a difference, often more than other individuals," said Raphael Shore, a 45-year-old Canadian who lives in Israel.

When a Middle East discussion group organized a showing at New York University recently, it found that the documentary distributors were requiring the audience to sign up for IsraelActivism.com.

The digital pictures of the events were also sent to Hasbara Fellowships, a group set up to train students to become "effective pro-Israel activists" on their campuses.

"If people have to give their names over to Hasbara Fellowships at the door, that doesn't have the effect of stimulating open dialogue," Jordan J. Dunn, president of the Middle East Dialogue Group of New York University, which mixes Jews and Muslims, told the Times.

"Rather, it intimidates people and stifles dissent."

Arnold Leder, a political scientist at Texas State University, San Marcos, also blasted the documentary as biased.

He decided not to use it for his course "The Politics of Extremism" because of "serious flaws," including that it did not address Islam in general and the history of the Muslim faith.

"If it were used in a class," he said, "it would have to be treated as a polemic and placed in that context."

Several American universities refused to screen the controversial documentary either in protest at its unbalanced approach or for fears that it could spark off hate crimes.

The documentary has been screened at right-wing and conservative organizations like the Heritage Foundation in Washington.

There were also repeated broadcasts of abbreviated versions or excerpts on Fox News and CNN.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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