One of Many Anti-Israel Actions
By UCI Muslim Students
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) praised the Orange County, CA jury who, last Friday, issued a verdict convicting 10 Muslim students for disrupting Israeli Ambassador Michael Orens speech at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) on February 8, 2010, and for conspiring to disrupt the meeting. Seven of the defendants were students at UCI, and three were students at UC Riverside. All of the defendants were sentenced to three years of probation and 56 hours of court-approved community service. (In July 2011, an eleventh student accepted a plea negotiation offered by the District Attorney and was ordered to complete 40 hours of community service.)
In announcing the conviction and sentence, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas remarked, In this case, there was a meticulous, written conspiracy among members of the Muslim Student Union (MSU) to disrupt a speakers right to speak and the audiences right to listen and ask questions at the end. The defendants decided it was our university and they got to decide who spoke, not only at UC, but all over our nation. They planned the shutdown, calculating who was willing to get arrested, but betting that UCI police would likely not act.
Approximately 700 people had assembled to hear Ambassador Orens speech at UCI on February 8, 2010. After the Ambassador was introduced, he spoke only eight sentences before the disruptions began, with members of the Muslim Student Union standing up and shouting such epithets as war criminal and mass murderer, followed by applause. The disruptions were so severe and unrelenting that 35 minutes into the opening of his speech, Ambassador Oren had only been able to speak for two minutes and 21 seconds. At one point, the Ambassador had to leave the podium. In his statement, District Attorney Rackauckus described the meeting: The loud, calculated disruptions caused turmoil and total stoppages of the speech. The audience was distracted, unable to hear, had lowered comprehension, and many were frightened. They were deprived of the opportunity to ask questions, as the question and answer portion was cancelled.
In the days prior to Ambassador Orens speech, the members of the Muslim Student Union orchestrated and meticulously conspired to disrupt it. They also planned a cover-up, conspiring in an e-mail to portray to the outside that the disruptions of the Ambassadors speech were committed by individuals rather than by the Muslim Student Union, the actual perpetrator. After the event, the Muslim Student Union launched a media campaign claiming that the group had not been involved.
The District Attorney described the conduct of the Muslim Student Union members as censorship by a few and illegal. The District Attorney further stated, The defendants acted as censors to block the free flow of ideas and infringed on the rights of 700 people, who had gone to the campus that evening to hear Israeli Ambassador Oren. History tells us of the dire consequences when one group is allowed to shout down and intimidate another or a group of people so as to not allow them to have opinions or be heard. History requires us to draw a line in the sand against this sort of organized thuggery.
Morton A. Klein the ZOAs National President, and Susan B. Tuchman, Esq., Director of the ZOAs Center for Law and Justice, praised the jury for their verdict holding the Muslim Student Union members accountable for their illegal conduct: We thank the jury for listening to the evidence, applying the law, and convicting the wrongdoers. For years, the Muslim Student Union has been promoting anti-Semitic bigotry on the UCI campus, under the mantle of the First Amendment. This groups speech and conduct has been so hateful that students and faculty have felt harassed, intimidated and even feared for their physical safety. Two Jewish students actually left UCI and transferred elsewhere to complete their studies. It is the height of irony that when the Muslim Student Union anticipated a speech on campus with which they would disagree, they flouted the First Amendment to prevent the speaker from speaking and the audience from hearing him.
The jurys verdict has sent a clear message to the Muslim Student Union: You do not control who can speak and what can be said in our society. And you are not above the law; if you violate the law, you will be held accountable.