OC Jewish Experience

The official blog of Jewish Orange County

Orange County Jewish Organizations Urge UC Irvine to Act

There is an old saying that begins something like this. “There were three Jews the room and there were five different opinions……” At times, it is hard for Jews to agree on something, anything. This is not one of those times. Four different groups, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Hillel Foundation of Orange County, Jewish Federation Orange County and the American Jewish Committee issued a joint statement today regarding the latest news from an anonymous source regarding the Muslim students arrested in February.

Here is their joint statement.

—————————————————————————————-

Orange County Jewish Organizations Urge UC Irvine to Act

(Irvine) — A number of organizations and individuals have received information from an anonymous source regarding the disruption of Israeli Ambassador Michel Oren’s February 8, 2010 speech at the University of California, Irvine.

The evidence and allegations in the packet, if accurate and authentic, are deeply disturbing. They point to a well-planned, highly organized, premeditated effort to disrupt Ambassador Oren’s speech. The shocking details contained in these materials would clearly establish that MSU leadership and members deliberately deceived University officials about their planned protest and expressly instructed participants to deny that the MSU was involved.

The contents of the packet, if true, constitute disturbing evidence that members of the Muslim Student Union at UCI were willing to engage in egregious and intimidating behavior in an effort to deprive Ambassador Oren of the opportunity speak freely and openly in a forum provided by the university. The packet’s contents also suggest this disturbing tactic may be part of a larger national effort to engage in similar disruptive acts.

We urge the University to investigate the contents of the packet thoroughly and expeditiously. If the information is genuine, it points to serious violations by individual students as well as the Muslim Student Union of acceptable standards of public discourse and UCI’s own student code of conduct.

Because we cannot verify the source or authenticity of the material in the packet, we have turned it over to law enforcement for their investigation.

Rabbi Marc S. Dworkin

Executive Director

American Jewish Committee, Orange County


Shalom C. Elcott

President & CEO

Jewish Federation Orange County

Jordan L. Fruchtman

Executive Director

Hillel Foundation of Orange County

Dr. Kevin O’Grady, Ed.D.

Regional Director

Anti-Defamation League, Orange County/Long Beach Regional Office

Advertisements

April 12, 2010 Posted by | Free Speech, Jewish Federation Orange County, UC Irvine | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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).
*****************************
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

April 7, 2010 Posted by | Free Speech, Muslim Student Union, UC Irvine | , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Proof!: Email Trail Proves Muslims at UC Irvine Tried to Stop Oren:

A group called the Investigative Project on Terrorism today posted on its web site details about a “plot to silence the Israel Ambassador Michael Oren” during his visit to UC Irvine on February 8, 2010.

The website claims it has proof via internal emails it obtained by the Muslim student Union that it “orchestrated the repeated disruptions” during Oren’s speech.  Here is a copy of one of those emails, taken from the site’s blog entry today.  The email, sent on February 4th, four days before the Oren event, calls for “an emergency planning meeting for the Israeli Ambassador event.  The email is underlined “We need to plan and take action together.”


What is the big deal you say?  Proof.  Among other things, this email shows that the group planned to stop Oren from speaking, violating his free speech rights.  It is ammunition the University and district attorney needs to potentially prosecute the students involved.

Knowing they crossed the boundaries, the Investigative project then lists another email, this time by someone named Secretary Sumayya Fatima Hussaini.  I am guessing this is a student.  In the follow-up email the student writes, I should say advises other MSU students to say:  “It was NOT an MSU event. This is probably the most important thing to remember to say. The 11 acted on their own accord, and it was not organized or put on by MSU. If asked about MSU stance, MSU DID NOT ORGANIZE THE PROTEST, but MSU does condemn the university for sponsoring the Oren speech.” [Emphasis original]

I have no idea how they got ahold of the emails but there it is proof.  I am sure the university wants to make sure it has crossed its t’s before moving ahead in this investigation.  If the emails can be verified, it is absolute proof they need to take action against the students and against the MSU.

Stay tuned….More to come as I can compile information

I also pulled this from their web site. It is details About the Investigative Project

The Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) is a non-profit research group founded by Steven Emerson in 1995. It is recognized as the world’s most comprehensive data center on radical Islamic terrorist groups. For more than a decade, the IPT has investigated the operations, funding, activities and front groups of Islamic terrorist and extremist groups in the United States and around the world. It has become a principal source of critical evidence to a wide variety of government offices and law enforcement agencies, as well as the U.S. Congress and numerous public policy forums. Research carried out by the IPT team has formed the basis for thousands of articles and television specials on the subject of radical Islamic involvement in terrorism, and has even led to successful government action against terrorists and financiers based in the United States.

The IPT accepts no funding from outside the United States, or from any governmental agency or political or religious institutions. Tax deductible contributions should be made to its fund-raising arm, the Investigative Project on Terrorism Foundation, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.

Founder and executive director Steven Emerson is an internationally recognized expert on terrorism and national security and author. Consulted by the White House, National Security Council, FBI, Justice Department, Congress and intelligence agencies, Mr. Emerson is in great demand as one of the most astute, insightful and knowledgeable experts in the world today on the threat and prospects of militant Islamic terrorism. He has been quoted in more than 500 news articles and has appeared frequently on network television. His 2002 best-selling book, American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us, provides the first context and understanding for how one of the most notorious terrorist groups in the world could have plotted the worst terrorist attack on American soil without detection or scrutiny by American authorities.

April 7, 2010 Posted by | Free Speech, Muslim Student Union, UC Irvine | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UC Board of Regents Hearing Today

It may be spring break for some, but the The UC Board of Regents has a busy schedule, including addressing the issue of intolerance.

At its scheduled meeting today, the Board is scheduled to hold an extended public comment period and discussion of recent incidents of campus intolerance and UC’s efforts to address them.  The messages was sent out via email to members of the UCI community from the UC Office of the President on Monday.

In it, the email said the Office of the President will provide live streaming video of the discussion, available to members of the public and the UC community at: http://www.ustream.tv/regentsmeeting.  The public comment period begins at 8:30 a.m., Wednesday March 24th. I clicked on the link at 8:47 and the message on the stream informed me that item discussion will begin at 9:20 a.m.

Following that 40-minute period, President Mark Yudof, Regents Chairman Russell Gould, Interim Provost Lawrence Pitts, Senior Policy Advisor Christopher Edley and select chancellors will discuss the recent events and the actions they are taking to ensure that these types of incidents do not occur in the future.

For employees who are unable to watch the proceedings live, an archived tape will remain available at the same web address: http://www.ustream.tv/regentsmeeting.

March 24, 2010 Posted by | Community Events, Free Speech, UC Irvine | , , , | Leave a comment

Must See Video From Jewish Students at UC Irvine

It is finals week at UC Irvine but that does not mean the Jewish students on campus are taking it easy.  Besides having to worry about grades  and eventually spring break, 35 students representing various campus groups attended a student government meeting last week when they  probably should have been studying.  However, this issue was important.

Let’s briefly review the last 6 weeks or so.  On February 8th, Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren came to the school to address the students and the community.  The Muslim student union, in an organized protest, tried to prevent the Ambassador from giving his speech and as a result,  11 people were arrested.

The Muslims then led protests on campus (see other videos in this blog) and while the University investigates, everyone awaits a decision.  The District attorney is also awaiting the outcome of the University investigation.

That said, ASUCI, the student government at UC Irvine, passed legislation condoning the disrupters behavior and condemned the administration for excessive punishment.  Let’s be clear.  ASUCI, passed a resolution in support of the 11 arrested students without knowing all of the issues.

This resolution was mentioned  in the blog a little over a week ago and if you want to read more, you can click here.  The Jewish students on campus had heard enough and wanted one voice to be present and to ask what the student government was thinking when they passed the resolution in support of the Irvine 11.

The following video, documents this meeting with the student government, where they asked why ASUCI is not speaking for the Jewish students and also asking the student government to defend the free speech of visitors like Ambassador Oren.  The name of the video is UC Irvine Jewish Students Break the Silence

The students are also working to repeal the last legislation.  The following information is from the ASUCI web site. It will most likely be voted on Week 1 or 2 of Spring Quarter.

REQUEST FOR ACTION BY THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL

All requests may be typed and submitted to the Executive Vice President no later 5:00 p.m. Thursday in order to be included in the agenda for the following Tuesday. The Executive Vice President reserves the right to delay the Request for Action to a later Council session if the Executive Vice President feels the agenda for the next schedule meeting is full.

Item Number: 100 Legislation Number (B: Bill, R: Resolution): R45-82
Author: Carson Hobart Second: Walter Rodriguez
Synopsis: Resolution Condoning Students Rights To Meet in an Unrestricted Environment
Date of Presentation: 03.09.10

Whereas, on February 8th, 2010 the University of California, Irvine welcomed the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, to discuss United States – Israel relations,

Whereas, eleven students in the crowd stood up and spoke out against the Ambassador, expressing their political opinion,

Whereas this event, and others like it, have created an unstable atmosphere on campus regarding the rights of students and free speech,

Whereas, the University of California is committed to fostering a safe and open environment for the free exchange of ideas,

Whereas, the University of California appreciates and celebrates diversity,

Whereas, disrupters (of any value, belief, or group) of any campus event poorly represent the values and foundations of the University of California as a whole,

Whereas, Mark G. Yudof (President of University of California) publically admitted that, “Chancellor Drake is responsible for ensuring members of the campus community at the University of California, Irvine [be] allowed to exercise their own speech rights, [and] a university is a special place for the exchange of view and ideas, and it is critical that our policies be conductive to a spirited intellectual life” [1],

Whereas, UCI also serves as an environment for the free expression of ideas on anybody’s behalf through scheduled forum,

Whereas, every student is entitled freedom of speech by the U.S. Constitution,

Whereas, Assemblyman Chuck DeVore announced that, “Free speech in America doesn’t mean you have a right to shout [people] down…It means you can have your own event and protest, but you should do so elsewhere,” emphasizing mutual respect [2],

Whereas one’s freedom of speech is inhibited by another’s expression of freedom of speech in a disorganized fashion,

Whereas, a precedent protecting students and their right to convene uninterrupted should be established to continue to serve the image of UCI’s safe and respectable environment,

Whereas, respect should be an utmost priority for every individual on the University of California,Irvine campus,

Whereas, the desire to foster healthy debate still remains to be a privilege of this campus’ students,

Whereas, Resolution R45-66 presented on 03.04.10 titled, “Resolution condemning academic repercussions for nonviolent protest,” set an unforeseen precedent that no meeting, of any type, and no speaker from any organization, is protected against impediments of opposing viewpoints,

Let it be resolved that a protocol be designed that protects the rights of individuals and groups by providing the opportunity to be heard in a respectful environment.

Furthermore, let it be resolved that from this moment forward this right should be guaranteed to anyone on campus and protected by the administration; this respect may be preserved by punishing those responsible for disrespectful interruptions as seen fit by the University of California, Irvine administration.

[1] President Yudof’s response to those writing him re the UCI Muslim Student Union’s series, Israel: the Politics of Genocide

[2] Article on Southern California Public Radio website discussing the Michael Oren event-

DeVore (quoted) is seeking the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat held by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

March 17, 2010 Posted by | Free Speech, Israel, UC Irvine | , , , , , , | 15 Comments

“Irvine 11” Press Release Questions Jewish Federation

A group  calling itself, “Stand With the 11′ issued a press release yesterday, and “questioned the Zionist influence on the disciplinary decisions of UC Irvine.”  The group is clearly trying to rally people around its cause based on the fact that leaders from Jewish Federation Orange County recently traveled to the Bay Area to address concerns on the UC Irvine campus. While you can read their press release below, keep in mind the following points:

1) The Jewish Federation mobilized its leaders to address concerns at UC Irvine.  It’s called making your voice heard in a respectful and impactful method.

2) The Federation could have held the meeting, quietly, behind closed doors and stated its case and cause.  And yet, it did so in a transparent fashion so that people should know that the Jewish community in Orange County will not stand for the organized and aggressive tactics used by the Muslim Student Union to prevent free speech.  The city of Irvine and UCI pride itself on diversity and Jews will continue to come to the campus to learn.  Deal with it.

3) The Federation also prides itself in its commitment to build bridges and it will continue with efforts such as the Rose Project.

The Rose Project was developed by Jewish Federation Orange County to address the challenging issues at UC Irvine and on other university campuses in Orange County.  The purpose of The Rose Project is to ensure that students on Orange County university campuses and community leaders are informed about issues of Jewish life and Israel, that they are deeplyeducated on the facts and the myths, and that they are fully engaged in positive advocacy for Israel and in dealing with challenges that emerge.  The Rose Project also seeks to facilitate respectful dialogue and shared learning amongst different constituents on campus and in the community.  I wrote it in blue to emphasize that the Jewish Community has worked hard to build bridges with other groups.

Please, someone show me where the Muslim groups have made any effort like this at UC Irvine or in our community to build a bridge, to encourage discussions and improve the dialogue.  Someone?  Anyone? Bueller?  Bueller?
It should be noted the rambling release calls the Jewish Federation Orange County a “Vigilante Organization” one that has “exacerbated the tensions and threatened the constitutional protections of the students there.”
Enough said.

Here is their press release as mentioned above.  It has been highlighted in green.

From: Stand with the Eleven (Email Address withheld)

Date: March 10, 2010 3:26:14 AM EST

Subject: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Supporters of the Irvine 11 Question Zionist  Influence on Disciplinary Decisions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MEDIA: CONTACT Email Blocked for this blog

Supporters of the Irvine 11 Question Zionist Influence on Disciplinary Decisions

(IRVINE, CA, 3/9/10) – Irvine 11 supporters are increasingly concerned that outside interest groups have had a disproportionate influence on the pending disciplinary charges against the eleven students that spoke out against Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren. In a recent meeting between UC President Mark Yudof and the President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Orange County, Shalom Elcott; the co-chairs of the Jewish Federation’s Rose Project, Jeff Margolis and Jim Weiss; and Gerald Solomon, Executive Director of the Samueli Foundation, President Yudof assured the organizational leaders that the students would be prosecuted and the Muslim Student Union would be “disciplined.”  According to Shalom Elcott, the “Jewish Federation of Orange County is working intensely with multiple channels of leadership on local, national and international level . . . to be sure the ongoing [disciplinary] process proceeds quickly.”

See: Jewish Community Leaders Meet with Yudof

Such external pressures by vigilante organizations have had a long history at UCI and have exacerbated the tensions and threatened the constitutional protections of the students there. Only a few weeks ago, the Zionist Organization of America called for an academic and financial boycott of UCI until the MSU is punished.

See: ZOA Calls for Boycott

The public statements by the University threatening the suspension or dismissal of the eleven students points to both selective enforcement of policies and a disproportionate punishment. It begs the question – why are these students facing such harsh charges? These students neither threatened violence nor prevented Michael Oren from finishing his speech. Rather, their actions are part of the American legacy of political engagement and social justice activism. At a commencement speech at the University of Notre-Dame, President Obama responded to ten anti-abortionist protestors by stating, “Let me just say this though. Some people got organized to do that. That’s part of the American tradition we are proud of.”Comparatively, UCI’s draconian response to these student protestors is unprecedented and clearly tied to the external pressures and political biases of the UC leadership. As President Yudof admitted in the past, “As you can imagine, it is difficult for me to separate my public role as President of a state university from my private life as a Jewish man who is active in Jewish causes and a strong defender of Israel.”

See: Mark Yudof Condemns Irvine 11

With passing time, it has become clear that the same forces that have aggressively sought to silence criticism of Israel across our nation are once again pressuring the UC leadership to criminalize and disproportionately sanction the protests of the “Irvine 11”. These efforts are part of a greater agenda to stifle critique of Israel. Last year, UC Santa Barbara tenured professor William Robinson was threatened with termination for sending an email critical of the Israeli treatment of Palestinians in Gaza. It was later revealed that Abraham Foxman, the Director of the Anti-Defamation League, met privately with the Chancellor at UCSB to encourage Robinson’s termination. Former professor Norman Finkelstein, a descendant of Holocaust survivors, was similarly denied tenure from DePaul University due to his strong criticism of Israel. As have many other respected professors, scholars, and students been scared into silence from legitimately criticizing Israel’s illegal and inhumane policies.

See: Muzzle Watch

We call for an immediate investigation into the communications and agreements between UC leadership, including President Mark Yudof, and external Zionist organizations that threaten the academic futures of the “Irvine 11” and derail the academic freedom of all UC students.

March 11, 2010 Posted by | Free Speech, Jewish Federation Orange County, Rose Project, UC Irvine | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New: Israel Ambassador’s Open Letter to UC Irvine Students

If I had to guess, I would say the Muslim Student Union hopes that Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, will never return to UC Irvine.  They may be disappointed to know he is interested in returning.  Maybe I am wrong and they will welcome the opportunity to engage in real dialogue and stop grandstanding to gain undue publicity for their efforts.

The following is an open letter to UC Irvine students.  It is live on the New  University website and I would expect it to be written in the print edition, which appears on Tuesday.  The New University is the name of the school’s student newspaper.

Here is what it says

March 8, 2010

An Open Letter to the students of UC Irvine from Dr. Michael Oren, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States

Several weeks ago, I was invited to your university to provide my perspective on the Middle East peace process, the question of Iranian nuclearization and U.S.-Israel relations. Prior to assuming the role of ambassador I taught at several American universities – Harvard, Yale and Georgetown – and greatly enjoyed interacting with the students. For this reason, I chose to visit a number of campuses during my first diplomatic trip to California. I know that today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders and believe keenly in the need to provide these future statesmen with an Israeli perspective of Middle Eastern affairs.

I was fully aware that the climate on many American campuses is critical and sometimes even hostile to Israel, and that the University of California, Irvine could arouse debate. Yet for precisely that reason, I wanted to speak at UCI. While it would have been far easier to engage students who agreed with Israel’s policies, I much preferred an exchange with students of opposing viewpoints. I came not just to lecture, but to listen and to learn.

Unfortunately, my remarks were repeatedly interrupted by a group of students that declined my invitation to dialogue and instead assaulted me with cries of “war criminal” and “murderer.” Repeated urgings by Chancellor Michael Drake and Professor Mark Petracca for civility and respect for the freedom of speech went ignored. University administrators were finally forced to arrest a number of the hecklers, and I was able to finish my speech. The remaining rabble-rousers stormed out to the applause of the many other students and community members who had come to hear me out. But I did not applaud. Rather, I was saddened by the loss of this opportunity to exchange ideas with those who disagreed with me and, at the very least, to introduce them to different perspectives.

Since then, videos of the incident at Irvine have proliferated on the Internet and attracted significant media attention. I have received heartfelt apologies from UC President Mark Yudof and Chancellor Drake. The response has been overwhelmingly favorable in defense of my right to free expression on campus and the students’ right to hear those remarks.

Still, I am not satisfied. I came to UCI for the opportunity to exchange ideas — a reasonable intention that was hijacked by a minority of students. The disruptive measures exhibited by these students only underscore the importance for dialogue, especially on the frontline of higher learning. The tragic fallout from this lecture is that those impassioned individuals most needing exposure to the Israeli perspective — and also needing to address their concerns in an appropriate manner — chose not to listen but rather to disrupt the event. Their methods, though championed by some, undermine the democratic principles on which the university system rests.

I have not given up hope on Irvine. I would willingly return to your campus and meet with those individuals whose views may not agree with mine as long as we respect the decorum of dialogue and free speech. Middle East issues are not devoid of emotion or nuance. Only with respect and sensitivity from all sides can we attain the conditions necessary to tackle one of the great issues of our time and realize the vision of peace.

——

Reaction from Jewish Federation Orange County and a UCI student was immediate and swift:

“As a community we fully support Ambassador Oren’s offer to return to UCI and hope that civility, respect and common courtesy will prevail says Jewish Federation Orange County President Shalom C. Elcott. “The best response to hate is education. This has been and continues to drive our philosophy and actions regarding the challenges at UC Irvine.  Despite the fact  that the ambassador was interrupted and his free speech rights violated, we appreciate the fact that the Ambassador stood firm and was able to finish his remarks. Considering the level of hostility and disrespect, we applaud Ambassador Oren’s offer to return to UCI and meet with the students who treated him in such an inhospitable way.   Unfortunately, the MSU student disruptors were not interested in a civil discourse and the pursuit of knowledge that night. Instead they conspired to control the outcome of the event, not only losing the opportunity to engage in a constructive dialogue, but also losing badly in the court of public opinion.”

A student’s perspective…..

Moran Cohen, third year business-economics major and President of Anteaters for Israel said, “We really appreciate the Ambassador reaching out to our campus despite the terrible actions of the students who interrupted his speech. We were thankful that he returned to the stage to finish his speech and hope that he will revisit UCI soon. As students , we were embarrassed and disappointed by the members of the Muslim Student Union who attempted to ruin the event and to ensure negative publicity to our campus. I hope that as responsible students we will all stand together against censorship and intimidation of minority groups.

March 8, 2010 Posted by | Free Speech, Israel, UC Irvine | , , | 2 Comments

UC Irvine Academic Senate Issues Letter to Students

The UC Irvine Academic Senate Issued The following letter was issued to UCI students via email today, March 4, 2010.

A Statement by the UC Irvine Academic Senate Cabinet regarding the events of February 8, 2010

The events surrounding Ambassador Oren’s February 8th speech on campus has placed UCI in a world-wide spotlight. In the wake of extensive editorials, letters, phone calls, and e-mails to offices and individuals on campus, the Academic Senate would like to reaffirm the fundamental principles by which we operate. These values at UCI include open access to information and the opportunity to engage in lively debate within a context of mutual respect. The UC mission statement says “the distinctive mission of the University is to serve society as a center of higher learning, providing long-term societal benefits through transmitting advanced knowledge, discovering new knowledge, and functioning as an active working repository of organized knowledge” (UC Academic Plan 1974-78). The open exchange of ideas is a crucial component of building knowledge and understanding. And because public service is one of our three main goals, UC venues serve as valuable public resources and community gathering places. The UCI Academic Senate takes seriously its obligation to help protect UCI as a place where all campus groups have equal access to campus facilities, where they feel free to invite speakers to express their perspectives, and where others with opposing views have an opportunity to express their ideas. In order to realize these goals, we must safeguard invited speakers’ ability to deliver their speeches and protesters’ ability to protest in appropriate ways (i.e. stating a contrary position without preventing the speech from proceeding).

Our system of shared governance gives the Academic Senate, the representative body of the university faculty, the power to exercise control over academic matters (such as courses, admissions and degrees). Although the Senate doesn’t have direct authority over the protection of free speech on campus, our Council on Faculty Welfare is charged to “advise the Chancellor and other officers of the campus administration on matters concerned with the faculty’s welfare, diversity, academic freedom…” In light of this charge, the UCI Council on Faculty Welfare, Diversity and Academic Freedom has developed the following statement:

Council on Faculty Welfare, Diversity, and Academic Freedom (CFW) Statement

The Council on Faculty Welfare, Diversity, and Academic Freedom (CFW) endorses the principle that the free exchange of ideas, especially on subjects where different viewpoints are passionately held, is central to the mission of the university and must be protected and preserved, and that this free exchange of ideas is facilitated and encouraged by an atmosphere of civility. We endorse the principle that all members of the academic community should have the opportunity to protest the words and actions of others as long as these protests do not disrupt or intimidate others in the expression of their views and opinions.

We may disagree with the ideas and perspectives of speakers at UC Irvine, but as members of an academic community dedicated to the examination and debate of issues of importance, we are committed to creating an atmosphere in which the examination of competing ideas can occur without disruption or intimidation. Recent events suggest UC Irvine can do better in this respect.

We endorse Chancellor Drake’s efforts to organize discussions focusing on methods to improve communication and civil dialogue on the campus, and encourage all members of the academic community to support and participate in these efforts. It is important that UC Irvine support actions that allow the expression of different and passionately held opinions while simultaneously creating an atmosphere of free and open debate on contentious issues.

Judith Stepan-Norris, Chair, Academic Senate Alan Barbour,
Chair-Elect, Academic Senate
Mary Gilly, Chair, Council on Academic Personnel
David Pan, Chair, Council on Educational Policy
Bill Parker, Chair, Council on Faculty Welfare
Jennifer Skeem, Vice Chair, Graduate Council
Lyman Porter, Chair, Council on Planning and Budget
John Crawford, Chair, Council on Research, Computing and Libraries
Richard McLeary, Chair, Council on Student Experience
Bruce Berg, Chair, Council on Undergraduate Admissions & Relations with Schools

Endorsed: March 2, 2010

March 4, 2010 Posted by | Free Speech, UC Irvine | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli High School Students Protest at UC Irvine

Flyer used for the protest by the Black Student Union

A group of 18 high school students from Israel took on the Black Student Union and Muslim Student Union protestors from UC Irvine as hundreds gathered on the college campus Tuesday afternoon.

The Israeli students are part of a Student Exchange Program in a partnership between Tarbut V’Torah Jewish Day School and The Hebrew Reali School from Haifa, Israel.

They were on the UC Irvine campus as part of their week-long visit on Orange County which also included visits to local middle and high schools.

The Israeli students joined the counter-protest with UC Irvine Jewish students from Anteaters for Israel and other student groups.

The event was originally organized by The Black Student Union, along with a representative from the National Lawyers Guild as well as Students Fighting Against Tuition Hikes and Worker Layoffs served as the official sponsors (see flyer in this blog).  Yet, when introductions were made at the Podium, the Muslim Student Union (MSU) was also thanked for sponsoring the event.  For some reason, they did not make it onto the flyer.  It appears that the Black Student Union has more closely aligned itself with the Muslim Student Union on the campus.

The peaceful but vocal protest by both sides mainly took issue with the 11 arrested Muslim students (by Black Student Union) who tried to prevent Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren from Speaking last month and the right to free speech (Jewish Groups).

It was strange that the campus did not have any police or security present at the event.  If they were there, there were dressed undercover since no uniform policemen could be seen around the student center.

After the initial protest finished at the student center, all groups moved closer to the UCI Administration building where they both chanted and the Jewish Groups sang songs of peace.

Check back on this blog soon as more videos are currently being uploaded.

March 2, 2010 Posted by | Free Speech, Israel, Muslim Student Union, UC Irvine | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Free Speech and Respect

Yesterday afternoon, I took a brief journey and visited the Irvine Spectrum. It is one of the largest open air shopping centers in the country.  It is certainly very profitable for the Irvine Company.  If you do not know the center, it is located in Orange County, California, where the 405 and 5 freeways come together, better known as the “Y.”

The rains stopped and the sun was shining so I thought it was a great opportunity to see people and get a bit of exercise.

While walking around, I ran across this sign posted by the Irvine company and the Irvine spectrum.  Based on what is going on in Orange County these days, the written word is a good lesson for all of us.  It reads on Bold Letters:

“FREE SPEECH ACTIVITY

The views being expressed by the petitioners are not endorsed by the shopping center.  Petitioners are requested to stay within the designated area and respect our customers.”

It reminded me of everything going on with our community.  Free speech and respect.  What a novel concept.  If only everyone respected the right to others when it came to free speech.  Maybe the University as well as any organization holding a conference these days needs to make a sign like this and hang it out in front of guest lectures.  I thought we were beyond that.

March 1, 2010 Posted by | Free Speech | , , | 1 Comment