Although CUFI chapters across the country are accustomed to resistance, the pure hatred which faced the CUFI on Campus chapter at Portland State University during a recent event demonstrates the shocking levels of anti-Semitism simmering just underneath the surface on many of America’s leading universities.
On May 14, 2012 CUFI students at Portland State University hosted a “Stand With Israel” event where CBN correspondent and terrorism analyst Erick Stakelbeck addressed a crowd of nearly 150 students and community members on “Terrorism, Israel, and the US”.
As the event approached, over 50 promotional flyers posted by the chapter disappeared or were defaced by anti-Israel activists, forcing the CUFI students to constantly repost flyers throughout the sprawling campus. Then, on Friday, a student made a shocking discovery: someone had scrawled a Nazi Swastika, as well as pro-Palestinian slogans, over a picture of the Star of David on several of the flyers.
This disgusting act of hatred lead to a swarm of coverage by local media outlets including a report on the local ABC as well as CBN and TheBlaze.com following a blog post written by Erick Stakelbeck. That same day, the CUFI on Campus chapter was notified that anti-Israel groups on campus were planning to protest the event. Despite the continued opposition, the chapter moved forward with the event as planned.
As the event was about to start, more than 40 people of all ages walked into the auditorium with signs reading “anti-Racism”, “Your Bigotry Is Showing”, and “Give Racists The Red Card” among other things. The slogans “Silence Racism” and “Free Palestine” were taped over their mouths. Campus police and security were on the scene, but stood by silently. When asked about their role, the Police responded that they were there to ensure that the rights of the protesters would be respected.
CUFI chapter president Josh Ahrens opened the evening by welcoming everyone in attendance and urging them to be respectful and ask questions at the end.
“The use of a swastika on the Star of David is akin to burning crosses on the lawns of African Americans. It is hate-speech, and it has no place here,” Ahrens said, condemning the use of slurs against the chapter and the speaker.
Three Jewish students also stood and explained how painful the Swastika was to them. As Stakelbeck began to speak, he repeatedly attempted to engage the protesters and begin a discussion. As he began to discuss Hezbollah, a secret sign was given for the protesters to stand and leave, at which point several began shouting slogans “Shame on Israel for Killing Gazans” “Free Israel from Judaism”, and waving their signs and banners.
In videos obtained by CUFI after the event, protesters equated Stakelbeck with members of the Klu Klux Klan, and openly applauded the 11 students at the University of California Irvine who shouted down Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren and were alter criminally charged for their actions.
Despite the opposition, the event was an overwhelming success, with many community members and students pledging to not be silent in the face of such hatred in their backyard.“I think Portland State is a better place because of what we did here tonight” said Ahrens.
Stakelbeck’s powerful message – that the United States and Israel share a common enemy in radical Islam, primed the audience for further action on behalf of Israel.
“We were not intimidated and we were not afraid,” said Stakelbeck. “God bless CUFI on Campus, Watchmen and Watchwomen on the wall.”