Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Israel Matzav: Oren heckled at UC Irvine

Oren heckled at UC Irvine

The University of California at Irvine is one of the most hostile college campuses in the United States. On Monday night, Israel's ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, tried to speak there.

Let's go to go the videotape.

Between ten and twelve students were arrested for disturbing the speech. Oren's appearance at the campus was opposed by the Muslim Student Union.

The outburst closely resembled part of a statement released by the university's Muslim Student Union (MSU) prior to and against Oren's appearance, which said "As people of conscience, we oppose Michael Oren’s invitation to our campus. Propagating murder is not a responsible expression of free speech."

It was not clear whether those disturbing the speech were members of the MSU.

After the fourth protester began heckling him, Oren left the podium, surrounded by security. He returned but was repeatedly harassed by students.

Oren took the stage again to complete his address and eventually a large number of those in the audience stood and exited, disrupting him for a final time. They then held demonstrations outside the arena, chanting "Michael Oren you will see, Palestine will be free."

The MSU said in its statement "we strongly condemn the university for cosponsoring, and therefore, inadvertently supporting the ambassador of a state that is condemned by more UN Human Rights Council resolutions than all other countries in the world combined."

The statement said Israel "massacred" 1,400 people, including 700 women and children.

The MSU further said that "Oren took part in a culture that has no qualms with terrorizing the innocent, killing civilians, demolishing their homes, and illegally occupying their land. Oren is an outspoken supporter of the recent war on Gaza and stands in the way of international law by refusing to cooperate with the United Nation’s Goldstone Report a fact-finding mission endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council."

The man you see lecturing the students in the middle of the video is Director of the University's Political Science department, Professor Mark P. Petracca, who told the protesters, "This is beyond embarrassing...this is no way for our undergraduate students to behave. We have an opportunity to hear from a policy maker relevant to one of the most important issues facing this planet and you are preventing not only yourself from hearing him but hundreds of other people in this room and hundreds of other people in an overflow room. Shame on you! This is not an example of free speech."

One of the Jewish student organizers told YNet that the university promised that 'administrative measures' would be taken against the protesters. You will note that a lot of them don't exactly look like students.

The local newspaper notes that there was a similar protest against Daniel Pipes in 2007 at UC Irvine.

You may recall that when I attended the Goldstone - Gold debate at Brandeis in November, there was an email circulated by a student troublemaker before the event. The email ended up in the hands of campus police who warned that student and any others who might think of protesting that they would be expelled from school if they made trouble. At the debate, one protester stood up when Dore Gold started to speak. Before he could get a word out of his mouth, the campus police were all over him. He got scared and sat down. The rest of the debate proceeded without disturbances. Maybe Israeli government representatives should not speak on US (and other) college campuses unless they have assurances in advance that the police will keep the protesters in their places. Expulsion is the perfect measure to do that.

Israel Matzav: Oren heckled at UC Irvine

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