On April 24th, the CCAP-supported organization, Tulane University for Israel (TUFI) hosted David Horowitz on campus. Horowitz is the founder of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and the publication Front Page Magazine.
According to David-Bar Ilan winner and TUFI CCAP Liaison Yoni Kaplan, TUFI’s program was presented in two parts. The first part included a promotional video to advertise the David Horowitz lecture and to highlight the hypocrisy of the Israel-Apartheid accusation. This video was broadcast on a large screen near a heavily trafficked pathway on campus. The video caught the attention of passers’-by, which allowed TUFI members to distribute fliers advertising the lecture. During his talk, David Horowitz focused on exposing Jihadism as the most dangerous religio-political movement in the Middle East today. He fostered discussion about Jihadi antisemitism in the context of Israel’s existence and the Arab-Israeli conflict.
TUFI used the event to hand out CAMERA information, publicize TUFI, and promote both organizations.
Of the event, Yoni reported, “This event definitely created controversy, but also a huge impact on students who previously had only a peripheral understanding of the conflict. I think our greatest measure of success is that about one third of the audience was wearing the black in solidarity with the protesters. That same third would never be caught at any other TUFI event that they didn’t feel driven to protest at. What made their presence so successful was that after actually hearing a different perspective, and listening to what Mr. Horowitz had to say, they applauded along with the rest of the audience.”
“The overall reaction was mixed. It was generally positive from people who were not invested in the conflict. For them, the speaker was just another lecturer, they came because they saw there was a big fuss, they listened, and they came away with some more information, for them it was a very positive experience. For all the people who came with the understanding that David Horowitz is very right-wing, that he’s going to present the right-wing perspective and talk about Jihadism, and Arab terrorism, and what he is saying is factual and unapologetic . . . ”
“As part of the backlash, SJP started a concerted effort on Facebook to get their friends and supporters to submit anonymous reports against us for the video and also for inviting David Horowitz. I received hate-mail and an anonymous phone-call. This negative reaction was most likely a small proportion of our total audience who decided to make the most noise. When I talked to my Lebanese friend in engineering, he hadn’t even heard of the video or the talk before I mentioned it.
Our final piece of feedback was an article in the Hullabaloo that gave a very good description of the event, quotes from organizers and protesters, and ended up being an excellent summary of the controversy surrounding the event and the actual content of the speech. There was also a negative op-ed in views section of the paper of the same issue.
In the end, we learned many valuable lessons. We especially learned that we can bring a controversial speaker to campus and make a successful event from it.
I think we also learned how to be sensitive to people who may not agree with us, but whose feelings we should be aware of, and how to work with students and administration to make sure that even a difficult event can be a great one. I think the event was overall a huge success.“