Some readers have challenged my criticism of Daniel Pipes' commentary on demonstrations in Colorado and Montreal last week. A typical one, from Wind Rider:
Might participate in the poll if you substitute your name for Pipes', and add a third choice - 'both'
Case in point - your characterization of the Canadian and Colorado speaking events. Little bit of difference with brazen violence and people listening to the speaker and on occaision holding up small cards that say 'I disagree'.
What color is the sky in your world?
To which I respond:
The issue of the protester's methods at the two universities is secondary. The lowest common denominator is that the goal of the anti-Netanyahu crowd and the anti-Ashrawi crowd was the same: to prevent the other's voice from being heard. It would be hypocritical for those opposing Netanyahu's appearance to invoke "freedom of speech" had the tables been turned and had Pipes been demonstrating against an Ashrawi appearance in Canada. (The stakes are different, however; realize that a campus speech by Ashrawi might be the only chance for some to hear the Palestinian viewpoint, whereas--Netanyahu speech or no Netanyahu speech--pro-Israel voices and money dominate in the media and smoke-filled backrooms.)
That's why the reverse is true: it's hypocritical of Pipes to invoke freedom of speech for his comrade-in-arms Netanyahu, when his goal was to make sure no-one heard Ashrawi speak. The Concordia protesters succeeded in shutting the event down, while Pipes wishes he could have shut down Ashrawi.
Now that that's out of the way, no doubt the behavior of the Canadian crowd was outrageous and unacceptable, and completely un-Islamic (if indeed a significant number of them were Muslims, which I doubt).
It's disingenuous, however, for Pipes to characterize these tactics as a systematic methodology of opponents of Israel. I have participated in or documented at least a dozen anti-Israel protests and I have never witnessed any violence, with possibly one minor exception.
However, I personally watched an AIPAC intern cross a police line at an anti-Sharon protest in DC and punch a Muslim, and one of The Lobby's South Sudanese friends assaulted an African American Muslim at an anti-Sudan demonstration led by pro-Israel activist Michael Horowitz. There is in fact such a history of the pro-Israel camp's attempts at crushing opposing views--yes, sometimes violently--that it really does not benefit them to start pointing fingers.
To their credit, it was characteristically politically adroit of the pro-Israelis to use the "I disagree" cards, and the addition of that pious little touch was no doubt influenced by a realization that they could capitalize off of the Concordia students' retarded behavior three days earlier. But this was just one aspect of the event; the supporters of Israeli colonialism did not simply wish to show their "disagreement," they want--as Pipes himself said--to marginilize, to exclude, and to silence.