- The Washington Times - Friday, September 13, 2002

COLORADO SPRINGS Hundreds of protesters brought some of the furor of the Middle East conflict to Colorado yesterday as Hanan Ashrawi delivered the keynote address at a symposium on the September 11 terrorist attacks.

About 500 demonstrators, members of a coalition of Jewish and Christian groups, waved American and Israeli flags and criticized Colorado College for honoring Mrs. Ashrawi, arguing that it was in poor taste to honor the prominent Palestinian spokeswoman at a conference on terrorism.

"There are those like Hanan Ashrawi who will spin the truth, who will make the terrorist into a freedom fighter," Rabbi Bruce Dollin told the crowd of protesters. "We will not tolerate spin, we will not tolerate lies, and we will certainly not allow Colorado College and Hanan Ashrawi to hijack September 11."

Mrs. Ashrawi, an author and English professor, thanked the college for "facing this most concerted campaign to silence or intimidate me."

"May I congratulate you on refusing to be silenced or intimidated," she said.

Speaking to a standing-room-only crowd at the college's Armstrong Theatre, she used her one-hour speech to focus on the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon through the lens of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

"I believe the traumatic and horrific events of September 11 have created a new paradigm shift in the world," Mrs. Ashrawi said. "I believe this should be an opportunity for a historic redemption of the Palestinian cause."

During her presentation, about two dozen listeners held up pink fliers that read "I Disagree" in response to specific remarks. She was interrupted a half-dozen times by booing, but also by applause and cheers.

At one point, she shot back at her critics, "I wasn't distracted by bullets. I won't be distracted by signs."

Mrs. Ashrawi said she opposed a U.S. invasion of Iraq, arguing that "military solutions are not successful in solving problems."

She drew jeers for taking a half-dozen indirect jabs at Israel. At one point, she described the 1948 Israeli policy toward Palestinians as "ethnic cleansing." She later called the Palestinian suicide bombings "absolutely tragic and unacceptable," but then added that "there's no justification for doing unto others what was done to you."

Debate about the college's decision to feature Mrs. Ashrawi at the three-day symposium, "September 11: One Year Later," has gone on for weeks, drawing mostly negative comments from the state's top leaders. Gov. Bill Owens called her appearance "outrageous."

College President Richard Celeste, the former Democratic governor of Ohio and U.S. ambassador to India, defended the college's right to invite provocative speakers and said that pro-Israeli scholar Gideon Doron would respond to Mrs. Ashrawi's talk with a keynote address today.

That didn't satisfy protesters, who came armed with their own keynote speaker, Middle East scholar and author Daniel Pipes. Speaking to demonstrators outside after Mrs. Ashrawi's address, Mr. Pipes called her appearance at the event "a grievous error."

"Simply put, the United States is engaged in a war on terror, and Mrs. Ashrawi is on the side of America's enemies," said Mr. Pipes, who was escorted to the college by state Attorney General Ken Salazar.

"We should work so that this type of anti-American spokeswoman is not welcome on American campuses," Mr. Pipes said. "That's not censorship; it's delegitimization. For example, would Colorado College extend an invitation to [white supremacist] David Duke?"

Mrs. Ashrawi won support from about 75 pro-Palestinian protesters, who faced off with the anti-Ashrawi forces across the campus lawn.

Pro-Israeli demonstrators compared their peaceful actions at the Colorado College event with a similar speech Monday in Montreal that was marked by violence. At Concordia University, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was unable to deliver a speech after protesters became too violent for police to handle.

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