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ADL, J Street Condemn UC-Irvine Incident

Ambassador Oren’s reception largely unprecedented in U.S.

Marc Tracy
February 11, 2010

It’s worth pausing again to digest the treatment Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren received during a speech he gave Monday at the University of California, Irvine. He was interrupted multiple times, reportedly by members of the university’s Muslim Student Union, with shouts of “Killers!” “How many Palestinians did you kill?” and “Propagating murder is not an expression of free speech!” (as Jonathan Chait noted, Oren did not murder anyone during his speech).

The Anti-Defamation League’s Abraham Foxman condemned the incident (in an email), as well as the strikingly similar incident, also on Monday, in which Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon was shouted down with like-minded epithets at Oxford University: “Anti-Israel activists on our campuses are increasingly resorting to undemocratic, bullying, confrontational tactics in order to silence Israeli officials and the expression of pro-Israel views.”

J Street had this to say (also in an email):

While appropriate and respectful protests are a legitimate and important part of the conversation on campus, anti-Semitic, racist, disruptive, and inflammatory actions and language are simply unacceptable.

In particular, we were profoundly offended by the anti-Semitic rhetoric used by a student to attack Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon during a recent talk at Oxford University. We were also deeply disappointed to hear about attempts to interrupt Ambassador Michael Oren’s remarks at the University of California, Irvine, with heckling aimed at drowning out the Ambassador’s speech.

UC-Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake, who was present at the speech, said afterwards that he was embarassed by the welcome Oren got.

Meanwhile, roughly a dozen students were arrested after Oren’s speech, prompting the Muslim Public Affairs Council to request an investigation—they argue that it is unclear what if any laws the students broke.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.

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