Tag Archives: UC Irvine

UC Irvine’s Muslim Student Union possibly suspended for 1 year for Israeli ambassador protest

When is the last time you heard of a student group being suspended for a year for doing what student groups do all the time-protesting a speaker? Probably never. And therein lies the question– some members of the Muslim Student Union (MSU) of UC Irvine planned to disrupt Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s talk at the campus. Eleven of them did so and were peacefully escorted out of the room by security, one by one. The plan was discussed on the MSU e-list but planned separately, according to the students’ attorney Reem Salahi. In fact, MSU members were divided on the protest so did not endorse it.

And yet, as UC Irvine’s Daily Pilot reports: “A UC Irvine student conduct committee has recommended suspending the Muslim Student Union, following repeated disruptions by several of its members during a February speech by the Israeli ambassador, a campus spokeswoman said. The recommendation has not taken effect because the student group has appealed the decision, said UCI spokeswoman Cathy Lawhon.”

If something seems off here, the Los Angeles Times thinks so too in UC Irvine protest case raises questions about discipline practices. They say “Experts say it’s unusual for a whole group to be sanctioned in civil disobedience cases.” Indeed. Is such a judgment fair or consistent? And if not, why not?

Attorney Reem Salahi responds with this damning litany of hypocrisy:

The University’s disciplinary recommendation never explains why the alleged violations and particularly the alleged lie justifies the massive, unprecedented sanction that the University has levied against the MSU.  In the past, UCI has permitted protestors to disrupt speakers by heckling, breaking into song and even, on one occasion, allowing an organized group of students to surround an MSU speaker critical of Israel with posters and continually shout him down to the point that he was unable to be heard. Neither these students nor their respective organizations were administratively sanctioned. Similarly egregious protests have taken place at the different UCs with little to no administrative response.

At UC Riverside earlier this academic year, Republican students shouted down and visually blocked a panel of speakers. These students espoused hate speech and yelled homophobic and racist epithets at the panelists.  Police and administrators stood by and permitted the presentation to be thoroughly disrupted for over an hour.  They made no attempt to detain, arrest or identify those students, even though the faculty speakers and others present could readily identify them.  Nor did they conduct an investigation, punish them, or punish the campus organization with which these disorderly students were associated. Similarly at UC Berkeley, pro Israeli students interrupted a distinguished pro-Palestinian scholar and UN Special Rapporteur using a bullhorn after they were explicitly told by the police not to do so. They were not arrested and following an internal investigation, no disciplinary sanctions were levied. So, while the University preaches the “marketplace of ideas,” the disparate treatment of those who speak on the wrong side of the Israel/Palestine question reveals the weakness of the University’s commitment to this ideal.

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Rabbis/profs and AIPAC say campus anti-Semitism hysteria overblown

On August 22, LA’s Jewish Journal front page featured Brad Greenberg’s re-hashing of old charges of anti-Semitism on the campus of UC Irvine. (We’ve covered some of the ongoing controversy here.)

It begins by showcasing how pro-Israel students recently countered Palestinian Awareness week. Their answer, iFest, included a chance to win an ipod for students willing to memorize a list of Israeli accomplishments. That one undoubtedly well-intentioned organizer repeats the same old racist trope about how Israelis made the desert bloom (because the “primitive Arabs” just couldn’t figure out how to do anything beyond rubbing stones together) beautifully illustrates the complex layers of deeply embedded racism that get lost in the hysteria-mongering:

“I see a desert turned into an oasis, not only culturally or economically or politically but literally,” said Zack Sher, a self-described “Larry David, curly hair, matzah ball soup on the weekend kind of Jew,” who was promoting his spiritual homeland from inside a pink gorilla suit. “This is our chance to give Israel some positive visibility.”

So this week, 5 Jewish  UCLA professors and rabbis wrote to the Jewish Journal to say, “Enough already!”

It is unfortunate that The Jewish Journal would choose to run as its cover story two weeks ago an article by Brad Greenberg that preys on the deep and recurrent fears of some in our community of a rampant anti-Semitism on our college campuses (“Quiet War on Campus,” Aug. 22).

There was nothing newsworthy about the article, no recent event or episode to prompt it. The episodes and anecdotes recounted in the story were months and, in most cases, years old — and have been amply rehashed in the Jewish press.

Indeed, the chief novelty that we discerned in Mr. Greenberg’s article was his willingness to report that “the amount of anti-Israel activity on campus is so negligible that it is almost impossible for students to find unless they are looking on all but maybe three campuses a year” —and this from the director of student programs at AIPAC [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee], an organization that is usually not deemed to be slack in defending Israel.

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