10 February 2010

Israel Ambassador Oren and Free Speech to Americans

I received a private email informing me that University of California Irvine, Muslim Student Union had disrupted a speech given by Ambassador Oren on the "Evolution of U.S. and Israeli Relations". The students were threatened by a clearly Jewish university staff member as they walked out of the auditorium in final protest, that they "will fail" (classes) as the result of their actions. 11 (or 12 depending on the source) were arrested by campus police and will likely face expulsion. There is a video of the event at the link provided. Get it while its hot! here.

You notice how inflammatory and slanted the actual write up is in comparison to the actual video. Students are accused of not understanding what Freedom of Speech is by University staff. Orens right to free speech takes precedence at all times. He makes a statement that I find odd. He says, "This is not London(?) or Jerusalem and its not Tehran." He's wrong. Its about the same as Jerusalem to me. Muslim voices will be silenced.

The Muslim Student Union had issued a statement condemning Orens talk earlier in the day.

We condemn and oppose the presence of Michael Oren, the ambassador of Israel to the United States, on our campus today. We resent that the Law School and the Political Science Department on our campus have agreed to cosponsor a public figure who represents a state that continues to break international and humanitarian law and is condemned by more UN Human Rights Council resolutions than all other countries in the world combined.

The debate in the comments section is full of fascist statements in support of Israel and in support of freedom of speech on behalf of Oren. People are appalled that these Muslim students didn't obey the law by protesting out of ear shot outside, where they will not be heard and where the press wouldn't get wind of their successful civil disobedience. Remember something. Civil disobedience is not by its nature law abiding. That is why its successful.

I'll try to follow through on the fate of the 11 over time. I'm hoping that they won't end up like incarcerated animal rights activists in the U.S., being charged as terrorists under the Patriot Act.