A US Jewish group on Monday came out in support of Muslim activists who disrupted a speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren at the University of California, Irvine, last February.
The Jewish Voice for Peace advocacy group said it was “appalled” by the Orange County District Attorney’s decision to file misdemeanor charges of “conspiring to disrupt a meeting” and “disrupting a meeting” against 11 students, saying it exposed prejudice by authorities against Muslims.
“A team of young Jews from the Jewish Voice for Peace Young Leadership Institute similarly interrupted a speech by Prime Minister Netanyahu at the Jewish Federations General Assembly [in New Orleans] in November,” said Cecilie Surasky, the JVP deputy director. “Like the students at Irvine, they were protesting Israeli policies that violate international law, and like the Muslim students they offered no resistance when being escorted out of the room.
“The consequences? They received international news coverage and were hailed as heroes by many Jewish editorial writers. In stark contrast, these Muslim students, who heckled the ambassador in a much smaller venue, are being criminally charged and could potentially face prison time. This is shocking.”
Two JVP activists will deliver a petition on behalf of the group to the Office of the Orange County District Attorney on Wednesday.
In recent years, UC Irvine has become the scene of anti- Israel demonstrations, and several Jewish events and visits by Israeli speakers have been disrupted by the institution’s large Muslim student group.
Jewish Voice for Peace supports divestments, sanctions and boycotts of Israel; disrupts visits by Israeli officials; and has called for its politicians and military officers to be charged for alleged war crimes. However, it rejects being categorized as being either pro-Palestinian or anti- Israel, as the anti-Defamation League recently has done.
The Jewish Federations of North America, whose gathering was disrupted last November, said in response to a query by The Jerusalem Post on Monday that it intended to “review its policies for next year” regarding such disruptions.