Normally, UC Irvine is a quiet campus full of bright young students mostly majoring in the sciences, engineering, and pre-med. As you walk along Ring Road, the main pedestrian thoroughfare, the most noise you will hear is from students selling iced tea.
Other than that, it's pretty tame at UCI. This is no Berkeley, to be sure.
Except when the pro-Palestinian crowd comes to life. That would be the Muslim Student Union and their sister organization, Students for Justice in Palestine. And since SJP and their ilk have declared today a national day of rage (against ) Israel, and since their brethren in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank are trying to start the third intifada with their senseless and deadly attacks against innocent Israeli civilians, it was time today for the SJP/MSU to express their........outrage, I guess.
As it was, it wasn't much-at least from 11am -1pm when I was out there. They set up a table and about a dozen students stood around with hand drawn posters decrying the "occupation" etc. of Palestine. There was a poster that read, "Long live the intifada". When classes let out at ten to the hour they would grab their posters and begin the usual chants about occupation, resistance etc. (Please don't ask me to recite them all.) Mixed in with all those chants were the calls from adjacent tables....
It was quite amusing.
Opposite them were some young people representing Anteaters for Israel and the Zionist Organization of America. They passed out flyers exposing SJP for the bullying activities they have engaged in on several campuses around the country.
I did note with interest two posters held by the SJP. One declared, "Free Rasmieh". Rasmieh Odeh is an obnoxious Palestinian woman who was convicted of a deadly bombing attack in Israel and later freed as part of a prisoner exchange. She then immigrated to the US and became a naturalized citizen-all while hiding that little episode in her life from immigration authorities. She was recently convicted and is facing imprisonment and deportation plus the stripping of her citizenship. (She is free on appeal.)
Another poster declared that Aharon Barak was "complicit and engaged in the colonization of Palestine". Barak is a former Supreme Court Justice in Israel who ruled that torture was illegal. He spoke last night at UC Irvine. I was not present, but I have been told there were demonstratotrs outside the hall where he was speaking, and that the q and a had to be cut short. (I will try to get further details on that.) I guess if you are Israeli, there is nothing you can do to please the pro-Palestinian crowd.
At any rate, I had to teach a class, so I left the area and headed back to my office as the shouts went on...
"Free free Palestine!"