That’s if she’s lucky. Most such speakers never get invited or when they do, their invitations are canceled.
Nonie Darwish, the author of Cruel and Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law and Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror, has faced on-campus hostility and disruption before.
Over the years, I have interviewed her about this a number of times. Like many of us, she has also sometimes been forced to have security guards with her when she speaks.
This time, Nonie, who is the founder of Arabs for Israel, was invited to speak at both Columbia and Princeton. The official invitation at Columbia came from the very distinguished CAMERA, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), and from a new student organization there: Campus Media Watch, a group which is not yet quite up and running.
Darwish flew from the West Coast, and was already all dressed up and ready to travel to Columbia when she got word that she’d been canceled.
“How humiliating is that? To come all this way, to be almost out the door, only to be told that they had to cancel my speech because campus security felt they could not protect me. Everyone is trying to blame someone else. Even the campus Republicans were afraid to sponsor me. SPME kept trying to fix it, but in the end, they could not.”
True, in 2006, President Ahmadinejad of Iran was not able to speak at Columbia because the notice given was too short.
However, in 2007, Columbia University was able to provide security for him. And yet they could not provide it for Darwish.
In 2006, Holocaust-denier Norman Finkelstein spoke at Columbia and in 2009, anti-Zionist, Israeli journalist Amira Hass spoke at Columbia–both without incident. Neither speaker was canceled. Next week, Noam Chomsky is speaking there.
In Darwish’s view, “I doubt Chomsky will even need any security.”