If you keep heckling the Israeli ambassador to the US during a talk at UC Irvine, the school has a right to throw you out of the room. And if you violate school standards, they have a right to take you to task on such violations as long as they consistently apply the standards to all students. Any student protester knows this and makes the choice to risk those outcomes when they choose disruption over, say, really uncomfortable questions.
But do they have the right to arrest you?
Amazingly, 11 Muslim students at UC Irvine weren’t handed the usual disciplinary action for violating student codes (they each got up, made a statement and then would walk to the door to be escorted out by police). NO, they were actually arrested.
I remember doing almost the exact same thing when I was that age- a bunch of liberal students repeatedly interrupted former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft at a campus talk-only we weren’t so mad. People we knew hadn’t been killed or imprisoned. We recited Jabberwocky and got hauled out. Our punishment? Nothing.
Just change the names: “11 members of the Young Israel Alliance were arrested for heckling the Palestinian ambassador at UC Berkeley today.” No matter who it is, there’s something not right here and the answer to the over-reaction is likely outside pressure (which students who are genuinely concerned about Jewish-Muslim relations report tends to polarize and hinder, not help.)
Apparently, conservative students who committed a similar disruption last year got very different treatment. No arrest for them.
LA Jewish Journal reports in: UC Riverside Faculty Voice Support for Protesters Against Oren
Faculty at the University of California, Riverside (UCR), joined voices at UC campuses statewide in support of 11 students arrested for heckling Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren during his Feb. 8 speech at the University of California, Irvine (UCI).
Thirty-one professors and graduate students from several UCR departments signed a “Statement on Free Speech, Palestine and the ‘UC Irvine 11,’ ” drafted by Dylan Rodriguez, chair of the university’s Ethnic Studies department. The March 11 pronouncement calls on the UC administration and the Orange County district attorney’s office to drop disciplinary and punitive action against eight UCI and three UCR students, which it calls “discriminatory, cynical, and politically and intellectually repressive.”
The UCI students have been charged with violations of the student codes of conduct. Officials at UCR could not confirm whether action would be taken against their students.
“We believe that this is a cynical and opportunistic attempt at political repression that reflects the racial criminalization of young Arab, Middle Eastern and Muslim men and women as actual or potential ‘terrorists.’ By way of contrast, Ethnic Studies faculty have taught courses in Ethnic Studies in which classroom proceedings were disrupted by students with opposing views, and the university administration did not pursue any disciplinary or punitive measures against them. In fact, we have sometimes been told that such disruptions are an expression of academic free speech,” the statement said.
Rodriguez said the statement was intended to take issue with the tendency, since at least 2001, to affiliate Muslim men with terrorism within popular discourse, as well as to challenge what he sees as selective enforcement of codes of conduct by university administrators.
“People protesting is something to be expected,” he said, noting that UCR administrators did not take disciplinary action against what he called “conservative” student protesters following a similar incident last fall. “When people get selectively subjugated to enforcement of codes of conduct, it has a chilling affect on political discussion and freedom.”
It remains to be seen whether UC Irvine administrators can prove that this is a routine response to such disruptions, or exceptional treatment consistent with our undeniable and absolutely shameful criminalization of Muslims and Arab Americans.
Meanwhile, to his credit, Michael Oren has offered to come back and have a dialogue with students. I hope the arrested students, some of whom lost close relatives during the attack on Gaza, will take him up on his offer. I really do. It would take an incredible amount of courage and character to sit down face to face with a man who defends a massive military attack that killed your family members and destroyed schools and hospitals. If I were in their place, I’m not sure I would have that kind of inner strength. But what a meeting it could be.
- Israeli ambassador offers to return to UC Irvine (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Zionist group asks donors to avoid UC Irvine (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- 11 arrested during Israeli ambassador’s talk (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
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Let’s review shall we?
Reporters questioned the Reut Institute about their use of the terms “sabotage” and “attack” in a set of recommendations for how the Israeli government should respond to human rights group who said things they consider a threat. In response, Reut didn’t say, “We were misunderstood and we reject violence of any kind.” But they did suggest that what they mostly meant was sabotage and digging campaigns against individuals who work for human rights organizations- nasty work pioneered by NGO Monitor. (Which may be why one acquaintance at a human rights group that does work in Palestine said that the director sent an email to staff suggesting they come forward now with any personal information that could be used against them. Sad days indeed.)
Reut Institute’s Eran Shayshon got a chance to explain the report on The Current, Canada’s flagship radio morning program : CBC Listen here.
It’s interesting that out of the 92-page report (download it all here), Naomi Klein isn’t mentioned once. Yet Shayshon confidently says that Klein, and her opposition to “Israel’s right to exist”, is one of the main reasons that Toronto is considered a hub of delegitimacy. Only problem? Klein has never been opposed to Israel’s right to exist.
(Another problem? My guess is that there’s a second report or database somewhere that is full of names of people like Klein and specific organizations conspicuously missing from the published report. They knew issuing a list of enemies of the state would cause more of a firestorm, but it’s the obvious next step when you’re fighting a war. And it works in Israel and Palestine, why not the rest of the world?)
The report also says “there was an attempt to boycott the Toronto Film Festival because it thematically spotlighted Tel Aviv”. That’s a lie too. The Toronto Declaration explicitly did not call for a boycott of the festival. It opposed showing films under a celebratory spotlight on Tel Aviv.
What Shayshon says about me is a flat out lie. I have made a personal choice not to advocate any particular political outcome in Israel-Palestine. He can search all my writing and public statements, he won’t find anything. What I do advocate, and what the BDS campaign advocates, is for Israel to abide by all applicable international laws. Any political outcome — whether one state, two state or more — must abide by these universal non-discriminatory principles. Though I do have personal preferences, I have no secret agenda and would support any outcome that conformed to these principles.Shayshon’s other big lie is his claim that I oppose “Israel’s right to exist”; indeed that I “have stated it out[right].” Once again, I challenge him to find one single example in anything I have said or written that would in any way support this claim. He won’t find it.This lie could just be slander, and attempt to inflict more “shame” on BDS advocates, as the leaked internal document explained to all of us recently. But I suspect that if challenged, Shayshon would simply claim that to support BDS is to oppose Israel’s existence, a claim I have heard before. This is interesting. Since the unequivocal goal of BDS is to force Israel to abide by international law, what Shayshon seems to be saying by implication is that Israel cannot exist within the confines of international law. I would never make such an argument but it does explain the recent aggressive “lawfare” campaign taking aim at the very existence of these laws.One last point: if supporting boycotts against a place means supporting its annihilation (the claim being made here and elsewhere), what precisely are we to make of the Gaza seige, infinitely more brutal than anything BDS advocates? Does that mean Israel is denying the right of Gaza to exist?
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Omar Barghouti got a “No thank you” response from the San Francisco area Jewish Community Relations Council head Rabbi Doug Kahn, the key author of recent McCarthyite Federation funding guidelines, but he did finally get his BDS debate– with well-known peacenik Rabbi Arthur Waskow–on Democracy Now. Meanwhile, here’s Barghouti’s Open Letter from Kabobfest:
Open Letter to Rabbi Doug Kahn
Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council
It has recently come to my attention that pending the advice of a working group of which you were a member, the Jewish Community Federation has chosen to itself boycott groups advocating a Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) program targeting Israel. As one of the founding members of the global BDS campaign, I cannot but note the irony of your use of boycott as a tool to suppress views that support the boycott against Israel. I can only conclude that you do approve of the efficacy and appropriateness of boycotts, as a non-violent form of activism and a catalyst for change, but condemn them when the change they set out to achieve is related to ending Israel’s occupation as well as its grave violations of international law and Palestinian rights.
For years, Palestinian civil society has been advocating the tool of boycotts, divestment and sanctions, or BDS, as a means of challenging Israel’s impunity and redressing the wrongs done to the Palestinian people by the violent and oppressive Israeli policies and actions. Wouldn’t you agree, given you in-principle embrace of boycotts, that this effective, non-violent form of struggle is far superior, morally speaking, to the “tactics” of white phosphorous, Walls, siege, forced displacement and apartheid?
The San Francisco Bay Area’s Jewish Federation has made it official.
Here in one of the most cosmopolitan, diversity-friendly and culture-loving places on earth, there is a new litmus test for Jewish identity and it has absolutely nothing to do with religious practice, cultural expression, personal history or the values you embrace. Membership in the Jewish community has been officially reduced to one and only one question- do you UNCONDITIONALLY love Israel?
Do you love Israel so much that you are willing to stand by and do nothing as it destroys itself and everyone it controls by repeatedly violating international law, sending its youngest citizens to enforce the 43-year occupation of another people, imprisoning them, killing them with impunity, denying them the right to health and education and work and claiming it’s all in the name of security while taking more Palestinian land and water and trees each day.
In other words, are you willing to love Israel to death?
If the answer is YES, you’re in! If the answer is NO, and you have the chutzpah to embrace the principled, creative, peaceful methods of Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, and Gandhi as a way to pressure Israel to help provide true democracy for all Israelis and Palestinians, then you’re out!
Prompted by the controversy over the showing of the film Rachel at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, the federation just announced this stunning set of McCarthyite policy guidelines which seek to sever any public ties that ANY Bay area grantees -including progressive synagogues and arts and educational organizations- have with groups that support Boycotts, Divestment or Sanctions in whole or part, or who “delegitimize Israel” (according to who exactly? The judges who hold the Federation purse strings, that’s who).