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Campaign to Prosecute Oren's Hecklers at UCal Irvine

A campaign is making its way across the Internet to prosecute those who disrupted a recent address by Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 2/16/2010, 4:37 PM / Last Update: 2/16/2010, 6:35 PM

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A campaign to prosecute hecklers who disrupted a recent address by Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, at the University of California at Irvine, is making its way across the Internet. The movement is being promoted by the media watchdog Independent Media Review Analysis (IMRA), which monitors media, polls, coverage and events related to Israel.

The message forwarded by the group, a simple email urging readers to support prosecution of UCI students who attempted to disrupt Oren's address, also thanks “the leftist enemies of free speech [only they have the right to speak]” for providing contact information for UC Irvine officials.

The message quotes an email from “ActLeft, action list in Israel-Palestine” which excused those students who tried to prevent Oren from speaking, saying they “chose to protest by making clear and organized statements.” The ActLeft message complained that by punishing the students, the school was “aiming to send a political message by selective enforcement of university policies.”

During his speech on U.S.-Israel relations, Oren was shouted down at least ten times by the protestors, who succeeded in sabotaging the program of the Ambassador's presentation, which ended without a question-and-answer session. Although some 500 participants attended the event, Oren commented from the podium that he was most disappointed by those who were forced to leave, saying that it was the leftist protestors who most needed to hear what he had to say. The university's Muslim Student Union had been actively involved in the protest, having conducted a vigorous email campaign against Oren's appearance prior to the event.

IMRA noted that it was important for “people who support freedom of speech rather than the 'freedom' to shout down and silence [to] see what enemies of free speech are arguing [about].”

Readers can contact UCI Chancellor Michael Drake to express an opinion, at (949) 824-5011, or email him at chancellor@uci.edu . Readers can also speak with the Office of the Dean of Students, which is tasked with determining the punishment for the hecklers, at (949) 824-5181, or contact by email at deanstu@uci.edu  .