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11 students arrested after disrupting Israeli ambassador's speech at UC Irvine

Soon after Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren began his speech Monday night at UC Irvine, the first student rose.

“Michael Oren, propagating murder is not an expression of free speech,” the student in a gray hoodie yelled.

The remainder of his words were drowned out by an uproar of cheering and clapping from students sitting around him before he was led away by university police. It was the first of 10 interruptions throughout the speech, and by the end of the night, 11 UC Irvine and Riverside students were arrested and cited for disturbing a public event.

The students were held in a nearby room until Oren finished his speech and were then released, said university spokeswoman Cathy Lawhon.

They could face misdemeanor charges as well as university disciplinary hearings that could result in suspensions or dismissals, Lawhon said.

After the fourth disruption, Oren took a 20-minute break before he returned.

“I’ve spent most of my life living in and studying the Middle East and one of the great and eternal cultural facets of the Middle East is hospitality...even if you do not agree with them, even if they’re ostensibly your enemy,” Oren remarked, before continuing his speech. “I’m your guest here and I’m asking for the Middle Eastern hospitality for your guest, I’ve come into your house.”

The speech about U.S.-Israeli relations was organized by several organizations and campus departments “to address tough issues in an open kind of way,” said Shalom Elcott, president and chief executive of the Jewish Federation of Orange County.

Before the speech, Elcott said his group was aware of an orchestrated campaign in which he said students were assigned a position and statement to read in order to disrupt the ambassador’s speech. The group notified campus police.

Elcott and others blamed the university’s Muslim Student Union for the disruptions. A statement posted on that group’s website Monday condemned the university for inviting a man who “took part in a culture that has no qualms with terrorizing the innocent, killing civilians, demolishing their homes and illegally occupying their land.”

The union, however, denied responsibility for the protests.

“It was not put on by the MSU, but rather by students acting on their own,” said Hadeer Soliman, union spokeswoman. Only one of the students arrested could be reached, and he declined to comment.

During the speech, both the UC Irvine chancellor and the political science department chair chided the protesting crowd and called the disruptions embarrassing.

“Shame on you,” Chairman Mark Petracca yelled at one point.

But despite the constant interruptions, there was also a strange routine to the disturbances.

A student would stand up and yell his statement followed by both cheers and jeers from the crowd. Then, as if on cue, he would make his way to the aisle where waiting police officers led him out of the room.

“They were very cooperative, they rose, they spoke and they began to leave their seats,” Lawhon said. “Because they had been told what would happen if they did this.”

-- Raja Abdulrahim

Comments () | Archives (102)

Muslims accusing Jews of "terrorizing the innocent" and "killing civilians"? Oh, thats rich. There is a very fine line between "protesters" and out-and-out terrorists. I guarantee you, one of these student protesters will strap on a suicide vest before long. Ever notice that all these "martyrs" start as disillusioned students? Please get these Arab terrorists out of our country and fast! Terrorists!

UC Irvine should be ashamed of their students and proud of their faculty.

good, more americans should protest the BILLIONS of dollars that the us government, NOT TAXPAYERS, are giving each year to israel. they use it to murder palestinian women children and old men.of course, the obama cabinet has 8 out of 12 who are jews. LOOK IT UP>

spent most of my life living in and studying the Middle East and one of the great and eternal cultural facets of the Middle East is hospitality..said Oren.
Well if you take it at gun point. Yeah..The police and D.A. should not press charges.
Will Mr. Oren do his speech in Tehran?
Do a speech on all those killed during wwII and one, not just the jews nor germans. All the lost souls. Plus the blowing up of the King David Hotel in Israel those british officers that died. After all they freed you folks, and you jewish folks blew them up.

Or how about the U.S.S. Liberty a navy spy ship listening in on israel, while israel was taking the golan heights. Firing on United States Sailors, a jet was in route to intercept, but was called off by L.B.J. in the last minute. WTFIGO. setting up muslims again? Iam not a muslim nor do I pray to an invisable friend. Israel is not a people it is a cult. There for no tax dollars from the USA should be sent to that nation. Seperation from church and state. Our tax dollars to the holy land violate that. Any fifth grader knows that.constit(p)ution say so..study

Freedom of speech? Diversity of opinion? Tolerance and learning from others? Who needs it, I'm a college student!

It is an irony that the ambassador was talking about middle eastern hospitality. I think his and Israel's idea of a good hospitality is going there uninvited and steal people's land, kicking them out from their homes and crying wolf when they fight back

It's a good thing that Ambassador Oren was at a Pro-Israel rally in Irvine with a group of Evangelical Christians before hand; he was able to have a lot of encouragement before attending one of the most anti-semetic schools in our nation. I feel that the UCI students should be embarrassed at the way they treated a international diplomat. Furthermore, treating him this way with a lack of correct information in their hangs.

Were they actually arrested, or just held until the speech was over? I hope the former.

You can watch this on video at democracynow.org

patiently waiting for someone to claim this is 'terrorism' in 3.... 2..... 1.....

I'd love to get their names and parents addresses so i can come and lob water ballons onto their property. I bet they'll call the police to stop me. Isreal made an oasis out of a desert. The Palistinians have taken BILLIONS in aid and made bombs. Yasser Arafats widow has half a billion in France. Palestinians have been cheated and used by their so called leaders and allies for decades.

What's really disturbing and frustrating about the Islamic anti-"Zonist" (anti-Israeli, or anti-Jewish-Palestinian, or anti-Semitic) rhetoric, is that it's strictly anti-something---what do the Palestinian supporters exactly support? If it's an end to murder than they should point out that the Palestinians along with their Pan-Arab supporters are continuously engaging in aggressive acts of terrorism, war and murder. That's what's so sad when you view the video of these students with their silly smirks on their faces. They seem to have one POV, that of the Mosque speakers and the anti-"Zionist" (anti-Israeli, anti-Jewish-Palestinian or anti-Semitic) rhetoric. It's sad that Israel engages in acts of war, and I based on what I've seen in the news, documentaries, and the Israelis that I've spoken to, that the Israelis truly aren't interested in war against the Arabs.

But you have to ask, what do the Palestinians want? Do they want their own state, or do they want the destruction of Israel? It seems they want both. And that's why any rational civilized nation has trouble supporting their cause.

Well, Zionism is a very controversial ideology.

@Ferenc - the obama cabinet has 8 out of 12 who are jews. LOOK IT UP>

Ok, I did look it up. The Cabinet includes the Vice President and the heads of 15 executive departments. None of them are Jewish.


I am now confused. You seem to be accusing him and his administration of being overly sympathetic to Israel. But others have accused him of being a Muslim. Oh, my. It is so hard to know whom to believe.

Excellent policy for those students to call that ambassador "on the carpet" about Israel and its clearly Apartheid policy towards the Palestinians. However, more civil, "hospitable" means would have helped their cause alot more. Such disruptive tactics only work to the benefit of this ambassador because they turn off whatever sympathy the protesters would otherwise gain from outsiders, some of whom aren't exactly so pro Zionist to begin with(i.e., realizing the massive waste in taxpayer funds to keep the Israeli war machine intact).

ferenc- I wanted to let you know that actually there are no Jews on Obama's Cabinet, not 8/12 that you claim. There are three Jews on his White House staff.

it takes two to tango.....both sides have blood on their hands!

Cluster bombs have been banned by EVERY country, yet Israel continues to use them on civilians. And what about the phosphorus bombs they also used? Oh, that's right the guy apologized (they'll use them again). We give Israel billions in military aid because they apparently control the U.S. government. Si Se Puede!!!

I am beyond ashamed of these ignorant & brainwashed students who are against free speech so much that they would organize a committee to interrupt like this. I am an American who is glad we are standing by Israel against the bullies. You can thank our tax dollars which pay these professors at these colleges who indoctrinate & brainwash our children! I am attending GWC currently & dealing with one of these professors now. So frustrating & disheartening. Wake up ppl! Do your own research for the truth rather than listen to these hateful, left-wing professors spewing their opinions as facts!

It is a real shame that people do not understand that Israel is a nation and they legal right to the land in which they live. It is the terrorista of Palestine that are causing the problem not the Nation of Israel. Ierroism is terroism, they do not get their way and then they kill innocents. You do not see Israel citizens strapping suicide bombs and walking into muslim countries and killing innocent people, Israel retaliates only after they have been attacked. THis had been Israel's land since about 1500 BC check your history.

Congrats to those students who demonstrated how and why the First Amendment is one of the things that makes this country great by allowing the voicing of dissenting views in a civilized manner. We don't have to worry (much) about terrorists with explosive vests simply because we do permit expression of opinions in a proper and civil manner. I hope that Congress soon gets the message - we need to re-evaluate our "friendship" with Israel.

I dont think the students should have interupted. Its ok if they dont him there but I mean have some level of respect. Also I think people are labeling ALL Israelites as terrorist.Its these kinds of stereotypes that start violent protest and racism.I do agree that our government should stop spending its money on far away affiars and start taking care of its own citizens.

according to your reasoning if I steal someones house but make it really nice then it is ok?

the students should be proud for what they did. college is a place of free expression and they did so without violence. the ambassador has no right to dictate to american students to act the way they do in the middle east. he needs to remember he is in america and we have the right to say whats on our minds. if he doesnt like it, he can go back to the middle east, where he can dictate his policy on manners.

The naive comments of my fellow christians and jews are what I expected. But these students who stood up in protest are absolutely right. They have grievances with the nation of Israel and rather than utilize violent methods of terrorism they have learned to use non violent resistance. We should encourage this sort of action not denounce it and compare them to terrorist. By the way Israel is one of the biggest terrorist nations on the planet hands down. What ever happpened to freedom of speech, isn't that all the students were doing, voicing their opinions in public.

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