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UCI students who protested Israeli ambassador likely to face grand jury probe

The college students who interrupted Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren's speech last year at UC Irvine are likely to face a grand jury in the coming weeks, a lawyer representing some of the students said Friday.

Carol Sobel, an attorney representing six Muslim Student Union supporters, said her clients were subpoenaed this month and have testified to the Orange County Grand Jury. Grand jury proceedings are confidential and could lead to criminal charges.

KPCC radio broke the story on Thursday's "AirTalk" program, where hosts talked to Sobel and UCI's founding law school dean, Erwin Chemerinsky, about the possible charges facing the students.

"It's pretty much a certainty," Sobel said, later adding, "In light of the fact that all the physical evidence was available publicly, including video of the students engaging in the protest, I don't see what the secret goal of a grand jury is, except to file a felony conspiracy charge."

Read the Daily Pilot story here.

--Joanna Clay, Daily Pilot / Times Community News

Comments () | Archives (28)

While I do not support or in any way condone what these students did, I think that this whole incident is being taken too far. Charge them with misdemeanor disturbing the peace, make them pay a fine, and put them on probation for a couple of years. No one was injured and no property was damaged, so it seems that trying to put the students in jail on felony charges is a little disproportional to the crime committed. And for the record I am not Muslim, in fact I am jewish, but do not blindly support of Israel. In fact I have openly disagreed with Israel's actions on more than one occaision.

The solution is to just deport these students back to their own country where they can hate Israel and protest as much as they want against them. No need to waist money with a grand jury and trials.

America's blind support of Israel is unbelievable. I agree with the other commentator. This is going a bit far.

I felt the students deserved some kind of disciplinary action for their behavior. But a grand jury investigation? Are you kidding? For disrupting a speech and acting rudely? This is nutsoid. We need the resources of the grand jury to be spent on issues of real concern to the safety and well-being of the county. We don't need to go on wild vendettas against some badly behaved students. And I'm Jewish, too.

How is this being made into such a big deal? Felony conspiracy to do what? To disturb the peace?

Now this sounds unreasonable.

Well, I'm Jewish too and I think the other commentors are living in a dream world. This was more than disruption and rudeness. There were threats made and encouragement of hate. Perhaps there is much more that we are not privvy to, if a Grand Jury has been called. It is exactly this kind of behavior that has been the seed of dangerous and violent demonstrations, riling up people by incendiary rhetoric.

Grand Jury hearings for "interrupting a speaker?" Hmmmm ...
Do I remember any Grand Juries for Tea Party folk shouting down US Congress people?
Do You?
My personal opinion is .... as an attendee, I have rights also .. and I came to hear the speaker, not the shouters... After a decent interval, the security folks or police should remove the dissenters ... remove, period! Not charge with crimes..
Taking anyone from this situation to a Grand Jury is intimidation, pure and simple.
And free speech IS threatened by official intimidation!
All that was needed to file charges, if this dissent is a criminal offense, is available on tape..
All officials, however well meaning, should look carefully at Egypt.. People really do get fed up with heavy handed officials...

If this was an ambassador from any other country, this would be a non-issue. As for these students being anti-Semitic, all I can say is, "Really?!!! I believe all people from the Middle East are Semitic, not just Jews.

These students most likely are anti-genocide, which is what Israel is doing, despite its best protests otherwise. Since the US subsidizes Israel's military, then by logical extension, we Americans are guilty of genocide also.

I am tired of Israel getting a free pass to any horrible behavior because of past crimes against them, and all accusers being charged with being anti-Semitic.

I am not Jewish, or Christian, or Muslim, or any other "ism". I am just tired out false outrage and lies and hate. I believe the First Amendment is our most-important freedom, and I think we should all be hyper-vigilant any time someone attempts to deprive any of us of this most-precious right for any reason whatsoever.

"I agree with the other commentator. This is going a bit far."

Going too far when these Islamist students conspired to defeat the First Amendment free speech rights of the person who was invited by UCI to speak and the rights of the audience who wanted to hear his message?

Your dismissal of the seriousness of the crime these Jew-haters, who have no idea what human rights and democratic rights mean, shows your own ignorance and probably your own prejudice.

this is not justice.

I am neither muslim nor jewish but I am fed up to the teeth with behavior like this and i am not in the minority.

If they are not US citizens, deport them. If they are US, the grand jury is a bit much, but blame UCI's obvious timidity and interminable delay in acting promptly and firmly.

Universities are supposed to be bastions of free speech: some have turned them into places where only speakers that the audience agrees with are tolerated; some speakers must hire extra security; some events are cancelled because hecklers threaten violence; some speakers have pies tossed in their faces.

When timid college admnistrators must consult PC advisors before preventing latter day brownshirts from disrupting speakers, society will act from the outside.

We pay for these universities, and if speakers are being shouted off campus, we have a right to know why: if we have to get the facts via a grand jury, that's fine with me.

PS to the people condemning Israel: the US interest in Israel is one of a fellow democracy and as an ally. If you condemn Israel, please tell me why I ought--as an American-to prefer the position of its enemies. Its not a religious issue. (The US is for people who don't fight religious wars with each other.) Remember, there is one place in the middle east today where anyone who wants to live peacefully may do so, and its Israel.

This is political correctness gone too far!!! Since when did the right of free speech and freedom of assembly become something that the grand jury should investigate? No charges are warranted for what in essence is a difference of opinion. That is still permitted these days I hope?

Muslim students at UCI as well as numerous other campuses have crossed the line between dissent and the spread of hate speech. There should be a grand jurty to reveiw the materials they handout which contain inflamatory lies about Israel and Jews. Similar materials that named any other minority would have been actionable a long time ago. It is about someone in the government pushed back on the Students For Palestine which conducts itself as if it was a terrorist, hate filled group on par with white supremiscts.

"Remember, there is one place in the middle east today where anyone who wants to live peacefully may do so, and its Israel."

The irony of this statement is flabbergasting. The truth is that it is possible to live there with a work visa, but you cannot become a citizen unless you are Jewish, or convert to Judaism. And Jewish citizens are not allowed to marry non-Jews; you must leave the country to marry, and if you want your spouse to come back with you to Israel, then they must convert.

Really, if you want live somewhere peacefully, Israel should probably be towards the bottom of the list.

Israel is most definately not democratic, unless you are Jewish, and they are neither friend nor ally, though most Americans seem to think they are. Just research the Israeli bombing of the US Liberty during the seven-day war and read through the comments of the Knesset regarding America. They are just using us to achieve their objectives. Watch out if we get in their way.

j-ews in our country actually think they can stop americans from speaking the truth about jewish interestsand israel, I think the majority of americans democrats included have had enough

I find Cynthia 's comments amusing. Of ANY country in the Middle East, I would choose Israel over all the others from a democratic and Western perspective.

And news flash for you Cynthia- they ARE our friends, and will always will be.

Your assertions are laughable.

Cynthia Perez is completely ignorant, of course a non jew and jew can marry in Isael. It is a demcoracy and it happens all the time. Its is not well received, you can certainly say that but of course its legal. But this is indicative of the laughable stupidity that permeates the conversation on Israel. Lies and distortions are the tools of the anti semite who seeks to discredit israel as a phony ally and Jews as not patriotic. Its all crap as jews have served America and proudly and there is no better ally in the emiddle east. Who does cynthisa vote for saudi arabia, jordan, syria .. get real, your remarks are outright laughable.

the mediocre brainwashed children that harp on well-known Israel bashing stories about the US Liberty (wish did occur) seem to say nothing about the far more devastating murder of 251 US Marines in'83 by Hezbulah and Iran which was the thanks we got for trying to prevent arabs from murdering each other in Lebanon. Those who hate Israel will always fail to see the evils done by Arabs against each other, women, opposition, gays, and libertarians all over the muslim world. All they can think of is the fantasy of Israel being destroyed. Keep dreaming idiots

I believe this is going to far, since felony conspiracy charges are normal far easier to convict with than the felony itself and what is the felony in this case?
A Grand Jury is very one sided and setup so that even a ham sandwich could be charged if the prosecutor so chooses.
The speaker was an Israeli Gov. official, so action was not directly anti-Semitic, racist or religious but against the state of Israel, so its possible they could be convicted of conspiracy but not of the felony crime itself.
Its a sad day in America when College students are not allowed to protest for fear of major jail time, granted they should have been removed quickly and speaker allowed to talk.
I understand why many Jewish Groups would want anything that seem even possible anti-Semitic to be crushed quickly but being anti-Israel policies is not always the same as being anti-Semitic, no matter how much many would like to keep them linked.

these students are riding a wave of the new politically correct and oh-so-fashionable trend towards ranting against Israel. What do you expect from a generation and a half of arab youths brought up to believe (yes, actually believe) the tripe about protocols of zion and matzoh and how they turned their own nazi-loving jewish-hatred around to claim that they too are semetic and "oh wow! its the jews who are really the nazis, like really" So glad Israel demolished the Shepard Hotel-home of nazi-as s kissing Grand Mufti scum.

Long live Israel !!!!

how can anyone comment on this until we know what exactly the grand jury is investigating?

you can't have a fair opinion without seeing the tape

It's unconscionable to allow any foreign diplomat of any country to be treated with the extreme disrespect that was shown by these students to Ambassador Oren.
They should be prosecuted.

Oddly enough I want to like the grand jury thing and say "go for it grand jury, deal to them," but in a burst of sanity I think I'd rather wait to see what the evidence, arguments and findings are before getting all "Whee Ha!" over it.

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