Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sahar Francis at UC Irvine

Gary Fouse

Sahar Francis is a Palestinian human rights activist whose cause is the Palestinians held in Israeli prisons. On the evening of May 6, she spoke at UC Irvine on behalf of the Muslim Student Union. Her organization is called Addameer. The audience consisted of about 30-35 people all but a handful were MSU members.

Prior to the event, I spoke with two UCI campus police officers who were in attendance though not inside the hall. I asked them what their policy was regarding members of the public videotaping these events since I had recently been advised on two occasions by the MSU and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) that videotaping was prohibited. On both occasions, I informed them that since these were public events on public university campuses that I had right right to film and would do so unless ordered by campus police not to. On this occasion I was told by the officers that filming was OK and they would talk to the MSU about it. The officers anticipated that a special area might be set up for filming. I showed him my hand held video camera, and was told there would be no problem.

Sure enough, the moderator introducing Francis stated that no filming would be allowed. At that point, I walked outside to find the officers, but they were nowhere in sight. I returned to the hall and proceeded to film. Within five minutes, a male MSU student approached me and told me filming was not allowed. As in the past, I informed him that this was a public event at a public university and that I had a legal right to film. I asked him to go and get the campus police since I would only stop filming if ordered to do so by the campus police. The police never came in and I proceeded to film until my camera ran out of battery during the q and a.

As for Ms Francis' speech, I am posting it, but suffice to say if you want to know what she said, go ahead and torture yourself for an hour. She speaks in a monologue and is so boring she makes Harry Reid sound like a Little Richard concert. That's how bad a speaker she is although she speaks without notes. The thesis of her talk was that Israel is violating human rights against Palestinian prisoners. I watched the audience, and I got the impression she lost them she was so boring.

As for the q and a, I asked her if she was advocating for the release of such prisoners as the Awad brothers, who in 2011 committed the horrific Fogel massacre in Itamar, wherein they murdered a family of five including three children, ages 11, 4 and 3 months-an infant in its crib who had its throat slashed. I won't try to repeat her non-answer-you can judge it for yourself in the video. I and two like-minded friends got up and walked out rather than listen to any more of her tripe.

Upon leaving, I related what had happened to the two campus cops and suggested they explain the law to the MSU so as to avoid future "misunderstandings". They indicated they would speak with them and relay the matter to the Judicial Affairs office of UCI.

I should be able to get the video up tomorrow.

* Update: Here is the "prohibited" video. Note that at the beginning of the first clip is where I am told no filming is allowed. My question to Francis comes just before the 17 minute mark of the second video. Note the directions regarding questions that the moderator gives in order to prevent follow up questions..

No comments: