OC Jewish Experience

The official blog of Jewish Orange County

Jewish Federation Orange County Demands UC Irvine Action

Jewish Federation Orange County LogoThe following news release was posted on the internet today by the Jewish Federation Orange County.  It is the first public comments made since the Investigative Project on Terrorism released its findings on a website earlier in the day (see blog post below this one).
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New evidence allegedly shows that the University of California, Irvine Muslim Student Union orchestrated the repeated disruptions of a speech given by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren earlier this year.

New evidence allegedly shows that the University of California, Irvine Muslim Student Union orchestrated the repeated disruptions of a speech given by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren earlier this year. At the UCI-sponsored event on February 8th, which was open to the community, Ambassador Oren was interrupted numerous times by shouting students; he left the stage and was able to complete his address after 11 students were arrested and order was restored.

Following this event, the MSU issued public statements denying that the disruptions were orchestrated.

“The significant amount of new evidence allegedly shows that these denials were in fact a cover-up,” said Federation President and CEO Shalom C. Elcott.

The evidence, sent anonymously to Jewish Federation, UCI officials, and the Investigative Project on Terrorism, allegedly includes exchanges between MSU members concerning a “game plan” for the premeditated disruption. The game plan includes seat locations for student disrupters, text message communication instructions, and a plan of action should arrests take place. The alleged evidence also shows that a decision to disrupt the event had been made at a board meeting of the MSU just days before Oren’s speech, and that post-event emails to MSU members encouraged them to deny any organized effort.

“If true, this evidence clearly implicates the MSU, and the situation must be dealt with firmly and quickly,” declared Elcott. “This information leaves no doubt that the MSU conspired in the purposeful disruption of a visiting diplomat’s address to the community. Our initial review leaves no doubt that the MSU leadership and their followers intentionally lied to UCI officials. It is time for the university to bring civility back to the campus, and we are addressing our concerns directly with UCI officials.”

To see the published report, please visit The MSU Plot to Silence Israel’s Ambassador

2010 Timeline of Events at UC Irvine

February 5 – Muslim Student Union meets to discuss their plan of action for Ambassador Michael Oren’s visit to UCI, which visit was a campus-approved event

February 6 – Muslim Student Union president Mohamed Abdelgany emails the MSU list with their decided “game plan” for disrupting Ambassador Oren’s speech

February 8 – Muslim Student Union disrupts Ambassador Oren’s speech over a dozen times. Eleven students are arrested (8 from UCI, 3 from UC Riverside); following the arrests, Oren returns to the stage and completes his address

February 16 – UCI Spokesperson Cathy Lawhon confirms that UCI has begun the process of disciplinary action on the 8 UCI students who were arrested

February 17 – Chancellor Michael Drake announces that UCI will be hosting a series of discussions on civility and values

February 19 – UC Irvine hires Hilburg and Associates, a Washington, D.C. communications firm specializing in crisis management

February 24 – Irvine Assemblyman Chuck Devore writes a letter to Chancellor Michael Drake urging him to ban the Muslim Student Union at UCI

February 26 – Congressman John Campbell writes a letter to Chancellor Drake urging full disciplinary action be taken against the students responsible for disrupting Ambassador Oren. He also calls for an investigation into the conduct and membership of the MSU

March 3 – The Black Student Union demonstrates on UC Irvine campus in support of the 11 arrested MSU students

March 8 — In an open letter to UC Irvine’s student newspaper, Ambassador Oren says that he would like to return to campus, and that he welcomes open dialogue with the students who attempted to shout him down

Week of March 29 – Anonymous packages containing proof of alleged conspiracy by MSU are delivered to UCI and copied to Jewish Federation Orange County and the Investigative Project on Terrorism

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April 7, 2010 - Posted by | Free Speech, Muslim Student Union, UC Irvine | , , , , , ,

16 Comments »

  1. I was present that evening to hear Ambassador Oren speak. The Muslim students were disgraceful in their behavior-screaming -almost becoming violent, I hope some disciplinary action will be taken against them.
    Sincerely, Rose Glasser

    Comment by Rose Glasser | April 8, 2010 | Reply

  2. It concerns us that a nefarious plan was put into place. Carried out and when confronted, denied. It seems that appropriate action is necessary so that civil society can continue and disruptive and premeditated activity is not rewarded.

    Comment by Rick Pospisil, MD | April 9, 2010 | Reply

  3. It is a concern to civil society that inappropriate premeditated disruptions are not rewarded. The MSU should be held under the same rules and restrictions of the rest of the community. Their activities seem to be escalating and should be promptly addressed.

    Comment by Rick Pospisil, MD | April 9, 2010 | Reply

  4. Thank you for actively working to resolve this problem and keeping us up to date with these developments. I would like to see the OC Jewish community have a rally or march to demonstrate our concern about our frustration with this extended process at UCI.

    Comment by Sherri Brash | April 9, 2010 | Reply

    • I too was present for Ambassador Oren’s speech on Feb. 8. Anybody claiming that the disruptions were not carefully and completely orchestrated is an outright liar. The texting among the Muslim students was fast and furious. The proof of the careful organization of the disruptions lies in their conduct. Each time, the Ambasador was allowd to speak for aabout 15 seconds. Then one, and only one, student jumped up and began shouting. A few seconds after that all of them began shouting unintillinibly. A large number of the Muslim women then began taking pictures of us; obviously looking for acts of violence against them. When none came they all sat down and the one who was shouting calmly walked out to the nearest aisle and waited for the suthorities to come and get him. That was the procedure that was repeated each time WITHOUT DEVIATION. Later, on que they all got up and walked out; only to gather behind the building and the speake’s platform to shout and sing in a further effort to disrupt the speech. “Not carefully planned?”
      The Police Captain in charge told me that 11 were arrested and that they were asking the Orange County District Attorney’s office to bring criminal charges. Whatever happened to that? This is now over two months later. Are we ever going to get any positive action from the University or the DA?
      I, as an individual, have little or no clout; but the
      Federation does and speaks on behalf of a significant number of people whose rights were trampled. Plese push.

      Comment by Ben Susman | April 9, 2010 | Reply

  5. The Federation has known for some time about the anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic behavior of the MSU at UCI as well as the fecklessness of the UCI Chancellor. It is incomprehensible that UCI should hire a public relations firm to handle the public response to the Oren Speech at a time when funds for student support and University programs are at record lows. This speaks directly to the inability of Chancellor Drake to provide effective leadership to the University.

    Over the past five years, reports and articles were written, meetings were held; but It was only when a sizable number of people from the Jewish Community observed this behavior for themselves at Ambassador Oren’s presentation that the Federation was forced, at a minimum, to give lip service to some action.

    The one organization that has stood in the forefront fighting anti-Semitism at UCI has been the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), led by its chief counsel, Susan Tuchman. Now Orange County has its own chapter. Chapter members are liberals and conservatives, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. What unites the membership is the need for a substantive and effective Jewish response to the ever increasing anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism Hopefully, now Jewish Organizations can join together to put an end to the outrages that have threatened our students, our community, our people.

    I call upon the entire Jewish Community to ensure that substantive changes are made in the way we hold our public university accountable.

    Comment by Jesse H. Rosenblum | April 9, 2010 | Reply

  6. The Jewish Federation and all local Jewish agencies should join together to demand that the MSU as an organizational entity and all of the individuals involved – including those who shouted out the disruptions as well as those who cheered them on – be punished with meaningful and long-term disciplinary action by the University.

    This organization should be treated the same way and with the same degree of harshness that fraternities are treated when they engage in prohibited activities like hazing.

    This behavior should also be treated and punished no less severely than other University of CA organizations which allegedly have engaged in racist behavior – for example, the most recent off-campus racial incident against black students at UC San Diego.

    The MSU has repeatedly violated numerous University policies over the past many years, including participating in illegal fund-raising for Viva Palestina by Galloway. We are still waiting for the University’s decision on this matter, which took place almost one year ago.

    Finally, the University needs to remove and replace all University officials and administrators who have let the situation come to this. There are many key officials who have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to those courageous individuals who have advised the University of these problems. over the past many years. The University should thank these individuals for bringing the matters to their attention, and should publicly apologize for their persistent stone-walling.

    Sentencing the disruptors to a few hours of community service is not acceptable.

    The disciplinary action needs to be quick and completed before any of the students is allowed to quietly graduate.

    Equally important is that demands should be made to the prosecuting Orange County District Attorney’s office for appropriate criminal punishment. They can subpoena cellphone records to get the text message timelines. Appropriate punishment should serve as a deterrent o like-minded offenders.

    Comment by Debra Glazer | April 9, 2010 | Reply

  7. I attended Ambassador Oren’s talk at UCI. I had read his book Six Days of War, and I was most impressed by his balanced yet thorough discussion of the Six Day War. He also made it clear when he began his talk that he would welcome diverse views from his audience. Regrettably, the diverse views he got from the Muslim Student Union were hate-filled shouted slurs such as “How many Palestinians did you kill.” As to whether the Moslem Union staged their unholy disruptions – the answer is an emphatic YES!. First, they were all wearing black T-shirts with “FREE PALESTINE” in large white letters; they all sat together in a block; the male Arab students held scripts which they read from; and while all this was going on, the female members of the group were busy making videos of their “heroic” brethren denying an invited speaker at their university the inherent right of freedom of speech; and they all got up at exactly the same moment and left the auditorium to continue their noisy disruptions outside the hall.

    Comment by Dr Jason Fenton | April 9, 2010 | Reply

  8. I support JFC.

    Comment by Lois Weiss | April 9, 2010 | Reply

  9. I am very happy that the community is finally taking a stand again the thuggish practices of the MSU. The MSU is doing a disservice to itself by behaving so inappropriately and disgracefully at UCI Jewish/Israel events. Additionally, if denials of wrongdoing after-the-fact are not acceptable nor tolerated.

    Comment by Mauro Beltran | April 9, 2010 | Reply

  10. The UCI Chancelor has said very specifically at the Muslem disruption that he will “not tolerate …will suspend or expell…will NOT let the disruptors win”.

    Since he has not followed through at all – what lesson is he teaching his campus? Who is in charge?

    Either he must take control of his campus or he needs to be replaced with someone more capable of following through.

    Joel Levine

    Comment by joel Levine | April 9, 2010 | Reply

  11. I too was at ambassador Oren’s talk and became angrier with each interruption by the Muslim students.. It was quite evident that the disturbance was pre-planned to the point were one could predict each outburst. They made a mockery of our constitutional Freedom of Speech privilege .and on that basis alone I feel they should be prosecuted. and denied an education in our university system. They are the enemy and should be treated as such, along with their leaders and followers..

    Comment by Esther M. Levitt | April 9, 2010 | Reply

  12. Legal actions against UC Irvine authorities seem futlile. If so, leaders of the JDL died in vain.

    Comment by Harlene Hyman | April 10, 2010 | Reply

  13. It is now over two months since the outrageous interruption of Ambassador Oren’s address at UCI. While Federation has patiently waited for the “disciplinary process” (whatever it may be) at UCI to run its course, there has been no report, to date, of any disciplinary action whatsoever having been meted out to the conspirators. How much longer must we wait?

    I suggested back in February that Federation promptly take such steps as might be necessary to have filed appropriate criminal complaints against those responsible for disrupting the subject public assembly. I noted that surely Federation must have enough legal talent available to identify one or more laws that were violated.

    Instead, delay has unfortunately resulted in the creation of an opportunity for other ill-advised and uninformed groups (such as the UCI Student Union) to “muddy the waters” and to actually support the conspirators who engaged in the criminal activity.

    Enough is enough! Unless Federation is promptly advised that the University has taken appropriate disciplinary action then those who were arrested should be prosecuted. “Justice delayed is justice denied.”

    The “additional evidence” now referenced by Federation tending to further implicate the Muslim Student Union (as an organization), while of interest, may well only lead to further delays in the “process”.

    Finally, I agree with the comments of others that if the administrators of UCI are incapable of dealing with this situation and maintaining a normal, civil atmosphere on campus, where the views of all will be respected, along with the law of the land, then they must also be held accountable.

    Comment by Richard Weitzman | April 10, 2010 | Reply

  14. MSU orchestrating the disruption…..Duhhhhh

    Comment by don giovani | April 11, 2010 | Reply

  15. As a former President of UCI Hillel, I want to comment of the foregoing.

    Some of the responses are irresponsible and offensive.

    For example, Debra Glazer wants the university to remove “many key officials.” It is not going to happen.

    Esther Levitt wants not only to prosecute the 11 perpetrators, but also wants to treat “their leaders and followers” as enemies. Does that mean she wants to kick all member of the MSU out of the university?

    Harlene Hyman laments that leaders of the JDL died in vain. They did; and we should all rejoice in the demise of that racist organization.

    Dr. Fenton seems particularly bothered that they sat together and some in their group made videos of the entire sordid undertaking.

    I remember well that when the Bolshoi or other Soviet cultural delegations would perform in Los Angeles, Jewish groups would purchase the entire front two rows. When the performance was about to begin, that portion of the audience would stand, all dressed in black, with placards and posters, for a silent protest lasting a full minute or more. Often they we subjected to ridicule and complaint from the audience. Then they would sit down and not further hinder the performance. We Zionists should be glad that the MSU is not sophisticated enough to engage in a protest like that, which would sway a lot more minds and hearts than the counter-productive criminal behavior that we all hope will be appropriately and swiftly punished.

    Surely, the 11 perpetrators should be prosecuted, and the results of their case[s] should be made public. Certainly, the UCI administration should make clear what they are doing in this matter and explain the procedures, even if some aspects of the results must be kept confidential.

    But the Zionist community should capitalize on the goodwill their protest earned for our cause and be careful not to squander it.

    Comment by Norman Green | April 12, 2010 | Reply


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