Eleven people were arrested Monday night at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), during a lecture by Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren. Oren's speech before about 500 people at the UCI Student Center was interrupted "by young men yelling at him every few minutes," reportedly shouting, "'Israel is a murderer'" and "'how many Palestinians did you kill?'"
After 10 interruptions, several dozen students walked out and staged a protest, organized by the Muslim Student Union (MSU). The protestors shouted, "'Michael Oren you will see, Palestine will be free.'"
The MSU issued a statement on its website prior to Oren's speech condemning his very invitation:
"We resent that the Law School and the Political Science Department have agreed to cosponsor a public figure who represents a state that continues to commit human rights violations, thereby breaking international law and law of Israeli accord. We strongly condemn the university for cosponsoring, and therefore, inadvertently supporting the ambassador of a state that is condemned by more UN Human Rights Council resolutions than all other countries in the world combined."
The Muslim Student Union of UC Irvine has a long history of radicalism, including inciting hatred against Jews, Israel and America and inviting anti-Semitic speakers to campus. Among the examples:
Radical Washington D.C. cleric Mohammed al-Asi, who argued Jews have American "politicians and decision makers and strategists in their pocket because they have the money."
Oakland-based Amir Abdel Malik Ali who incited his audience to "victory or martyrdom," described Hamas by saying, "they ain't terrorists, they're freedom fighters."
Between the fall of 2000 and December 2006, 13 incidents of alleged harassment against Jewish students were recorded at UCI, ranging from rock throwing to hate speech.
In May 2008, U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) wrote to UCI Chancellor Michael Drake to express his concern over MSU events earlier that month called "Never Again? The Palestinian Holocaust." The Congressman wrote the event "appears intended to encourage violence against the State of Israel and propagate the spread of anti-Semitism."
In October, 2009, UCI forwarded a complaint to the FBI "to investigate claims that funds raised at an event organized by the university's Muslim Student Union were used to help Hamas." The complaint refers to a Viva Palestina fundraising event sponsored by MSU in May 2009, an organization that directly provides money to the Hamas government in the Gaza strip.
On December 1, 2009, Sherman wrote another letter to the Chancellor, stating:
"I believe your investigation will confirm that the UCI MSU has solicited funds for a terrorist organization (or knowingly aided and abetted such solicitation). After you confirm these facts, I believe you will, at a minimum, prevent the MSU from operating on campus unless and until its leadership is purged of those responsible."
MSU has developed a reputation as among the most anti-Semitic and controversial Muslim student organizations in the country. The attempt to stifle speech on a university campus from a foreign diplomat further cements that image.