What Is UC Irvine Doing About Pro-Palestinian Disruptions?

When fascist-style intimidation and bullying go untouched.

[Editor’s note: To help push back against the enforcement of Islamic blasphemy laws on the American campus, support the Freedom Center’s campaign Stop University Support for Terrorists.]

At UC Irvine, the week of April 30-May 3, we witnessed the annual shenanigans of the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and the Muslim Student Union (MSU), which once again featured a week of anti-Israel screeds and attempts at intimidation. It concluded on Thursday evening when pro-Palestinian hooligans disrupted a College Republican meeting featuring five Israel Defense Forces Reservists on Duty. It marked the third year in a row that such an event was disrupted. As usual, nobody was arrested, and the university is apparently taking the position that since the disruptors were not believed to be students, no action would be taken.

At this point, it is assumed that the disruptors were not even identified. It is ironic that these hooligans were apparently not students since SJP is on UCI probation for two years based on last year’s disruption of a pro-Israel event. How convenient.

There are many questions surrounding the disruption of May 3. For example, why did the campus police and dean of students, Rameen Talesh, who were present from the beginning, wait 5 minutes before ushering the disruptors out of the room even though the disturbance began with a man and woman shouting chants with a bullhorn? If the disruptors were not identified, why not? Just because they were not students is no reason not to identify people who come on campus and cause a ruckus, even if no arrests are made. Of course, if one uses the 2010 disruption of the Israeli ambassador’s speech by the so-called “Irvine 11” as a template, arrests could have been made, but it seems the Orange County DA will not prosecute for campus disruptions unless arrests are made, which was the case in 2010.

Another question is whether UCI will launch an investigation into the incident to determine if any campus groups were connected to the disturbance. If, indeed, the disruptors were not part of the university, did anyone else (on campus) recruit them to come and disrupt? Thus far, I see no indication UCI will investigate.  It should be noted here that after the 2010 disruption of the Israeli ambassador, which caused international embarrassment for UCI, an investigation revealed the planning of the MSU, the denials, the lies to the university, and the attempted cover-up. MSU claimed that the disruption was spontaneous, an obvious lie. Last Thursday’s disruption was hardly spontaneous since the disruptors snuck their bullhorn into the room. Was there some sort of agreement, tacit or otherwise, that these people could do their thing for 5 minutes then exit? I don’t know, but watching the video leads to the question.

In addition to simply identifying the disruptors on May 3, it would have been a simple investigative procedure to observe where they went after ending their disruption from outside the room. Here’s a clue: In past years, SJP and MSU have used the Cross Cultural Center as their staging area when they disrupt Jewish events. They not only arrive from there, they return there for their “debriefings”. For years I have complained to the CCC and the university about this collusion to no avail. The CCC is very close to where the May 3 disruption took place. Had police kept an eye on the disruptors once the event was over, they might have seen them meet up with other people. It’s speculation, but it’s investigation 101 and would not have been difficult.

Thus far, this is the response that we have from UCI as reported by the Jerusalem Post:

“to our knowledge, the protestors were not UCI students, so there will not be a student conduct review,” adding that the protestors cooperated with the police officers and complied with their request to leave the meeting.”

“UCI is a diverse campus that is strengthened by a mix of cultures and opinions,” the university said in a statement to the Post. “The safety of all our students, faculty and staff is our utmost priority. All processes proceed with these fundamental commitments in mind. UCI’s commitment to providing a safe environment that allows ideas to flourish is unwavering.”

Both statements are laughable on their face. An appropriate investigation might reveal other people involved in this disruption who were not physically in the room. As to the second statement, UCI has utterly failed for several years to provide a safe environment for Jewish students and for them to exercise their own freedom of speech in defense of Israel.

What is also ironic is that UCI chancellor Howard Gillman literally wrote the book on campus free speech with former UCI Law School dean Erwin Chemerinsky (Free Speech on Campus_,_ Yale University Press). In addition, they recently announced the establishment of a University of California National Center fro Free Speech and Civic Engagement in Washington, DC, of all places. Yet, these men have no understanding of how to ensure free speech for all. Equally ironic is that for the past three years, including when Chemerinsky was at UCI (he is now law school dean at UC Berkeley), the UCI law school had a chapter of the communist National Lawyers Guild, which in turn, had so-called “legal observers” present at the 2016 and 2017 disruptions of pro-Israel events as well as the so-called apartheid wall activities during the week April 30-May 3.

The time has come for the public to let Chancellor Gillman know that enough is enough and that this constant intimidation of Jewish, pro-Israel, and conservative students on campus is unacceptable. This long-standing campus anti-Semitism and the disruption of conservative and pro-Israel events is not free speech; it is the denial of the free speech rights of others. In spite of the University of California Regent’s 2016 Principles Against Intolerance, which specifically refers to the problem of anti-Semitism, UCI has consistently failed to live up to its responsibilities.

I have written my own letter to Chancellor Gillman, and I ask the readers to do the same. As always, I ask that the letters be polite and respectful. Crude, threatening letters only damage our cause.

Gillman may be reached at: [email protected].