Monday, February 8, 2010

Israeli Ambassador Disrupted at UC-Irvine

(Orange County Register)

This evening, the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, spoke at the University of California at Irvine. I attended the event. I wish I could say it was a good evening. Unfortunately, I cannot. While Ambassador Oren comported himself with great class and dignity, the same cannot be said for the campus Muslim Student Union. What happened this evening was a black eye and embarrassment for the university where I have taught for over 11 years (part-time) and cemented the reputation of UCI as one of the worst campuses in the nation for radical MSU activity and anti-Semitism.

(Orange County Register)

There were several hundred people in the audience, most of whom were from the local Jewish community. They were mostly older folks. The speech was sponsored by the local Jewish Federation, Hillel and several other organizations. As expected the Muslim Student Union also showed up. It was obvious even before the start of the speech that they were going to stage some sort of protest. Half of them sat on the left and half on the right.

A few moments into Ambassador Oren's speech, an MSU protester stood up and began shouting insults at the ambassador. He was removed by campus police. And so it continued. After the first interruption, the moderator, a UCI political science professor, took the microphone to admonish the disruptors. Yet, it did not stop. After about the 5th such disruption and removal, the ambassador left the room and Chancellor Michael Drake addressed the audience pleading for civility.

When the ambassador returned, the disruptions continued. Each time, a protester was removed, the audience become increasingly angry and voiced their displeasure at the disruptors. They also voiced their displeasure at Chancellor Drake and demanded to know what was going to be done to the disrupting students. (Of course, at this point, there is a question as to whether the disruptors were actually students who could be disciplined.) The audience was clearly not pleased with Chancellor Drake's pleas for civility. Cries of "what are you going to do about it?" were heard in the audience.

After the 10th such interruption, the MSU got up as a group and left the hall, screaming insults at the ambassador, who nevertheless managed to complete his speech as the MSU gathered out on the street outside and continued their protest, their chants barely audible inside the hall. The disruptions and delays precluded any hope of having a Q&A, which was the original plan.

Here is my reaction to the speech. First of all, the performance of the Muslim Student Union was despicable. To disrupt a speech by an ambassador of any nation is a diplomatic incident in and of itself. That this happened on the UCI campus is a major embarrassment for the university. One can only hope that criminal charges will be filed, which I understand will be the case. If any of the individual protesters are UCI students, I can only hope they will be expelled. (Don't hold your breath.)

Secondly, the Muslim Student Union not only did a disservice to their (pro-Palestinian) cause, but they did a disservice to themselves as Muslims. What they projected to the audience was not only that they did not respect free speech, but they projected a negative image of themselves as Muslims. In that respect, they did a disservice to those Muslims who are trying to live peacefully and assimilate into American society. This bunch, however, sent a message that they are apart from American society.

In addition, they refused to accord the right of free speech and the right of the audience to hear a message because they don't like it. I have been attending MSU-sponsored events for several years now at UCI and listened to a lot of hate speech-words that Ambassador Oren never engaged in. I have never interrupted or disrupted a speech no matter how offensive it was, nor have I witnessed anyone else do so. If the MSU had differences with the Israeli ambassador, they could have asked him their questions during the Q&A, as I always do. Instead, they acted like barbarians and cemented an unfortunate stereotype that hurts all Muslims. (As I write, the OC Register on-line report is burning up with comments, and they are not very complimentary to the protestors.)

Perhaps, the biggest mistake the MSU committed was showing a local audience that there really IS a problem at UCI, in spite of all the denials by the administration and unfortunately, even some Jewish groups like the local Orange County Jewish Federation, who sponsored the event. The audience members will take this experience home and tell others what is really going on at UCI. Tonight, the truth came out.

Above, I am posting the Orange County Register video of the disruptions. When more pictures/videos of the event are available, I will post them.


Findalis said...

Did I hear a facility member telling the whoresons that they will be failing their finals? I do hope so.

Stacy K. said...

I hope you don't mind, but I have reposted you at my blog, which has some Muslim readership. I read about tonights events after a friend who attends UC Irvine posted a link.

I agree with you 100%. This behavior was shameful and an affront to true free speech.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Gary Fouse said...


I saw that on the video, but I don't know who that person is. Assuming he is a faculty member, failing finals is not the issue. They should be expelled.

Gary Fouse said...


Thank you for your comment. I looked at your sight. If you are Somali, I want to say that Ayaan Hirsi Ali is my biggest hero.

You didn't say whether you are Muslim or not, but if you are, the point I want to make is that these incidents do harm to innocent Muslims who are trying to become a true part of America.

Please feel free to post this wherever you like.

Findalis said...

Do I have permission to cross post this at Monkey in the Middle? And cross post this at Radarsite too.

Gary Fouse said...


Absolutely. The reason I didn't put it up on Radarsite tonight is because the last 4-5 posts have been posted by me.

Findalis said...

Have my post on this scheduled for this AM. Linking back to you.

Findalis said...

This story hit the Israeli papers today (with the video). I titled this story: Were You Raised In A Barn?