ZOA blames Chancellor Michael Drake for disruption of Ambassador Oren at UCI speech
NEW YORK (Press Release)–The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has condemned Michael Drake, the Chancellor of the University of California, Irvine, for enabling an anti-Semitic/anti-Israel atmosphere on his campus over a period of years, which culminated yesterday evening in the repeated disruption of a campus lecture delivered by Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren.
Ambassador Oren was repeatedly heckled and harassed by members of the audience, reportedly including members of UC Irvine’s Muslim Student Union. The interruptions occurred nearly a dozen times, causing Ambassador Oren to leave the podium and exit the room at one point, and forcing him to cancel a planned question-and-answer period after his speech.
The ZOA’s National President, Morton A. Klein, and the Director of the ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, Susan B. Tuchman, Esq., criticized Chancellor Drake for his longstanding failure to take action against the Muslim Student Union for the group’s repeated infractions, which paved the way for Monday evening’s outbursts: “For years, the ZOA has called on Chancellor Drake to exercise his First Amendment right and his moral duty as a university leader and publicly condemn the Muslim Student Union for the anti-Semitic and Israel-bashing speakers and programs it regularly sponsors on the campus. The Chancellor has refused to criticize this student group and its hateful and bigoted rhetoric, thus sending a message to the Muslim Student Union and the rest of the community that anti-Semitism and Israel-bashing are acceptable and will be tolerated by the university.
“Instead, UC Irvine has actually lauded the group and honored students who have contributed to the bigotry and divisiveness on campus. In 2006, one such student, who helped organize a rally at which Jewish students were told they weren’t welcome, received a community service award from UC Irvine’s Alumni Association, was publicly praised in a UC Irvine publication, and was named a speaker at UC Irvine’s commencement ceremony in 2006. UC Irvine’s fall/winter 2009 alumni magazine recently reported that the Alumni Association awarded a scholarship to a student who ‘is involved with the Alkalima Magazine, the magazine of the Muslim Student Union.’ Alkalima has published anti-Semitic and Israel-bashing articles, including one which asserted that Jews are genetically different from everyone else.
“Chancellor Drake and his administration have also been slow to respond to concerns that the Muslim Student Union may have been involved in raising funds on campus for the terrorist group Hamas, when the Muslim Student Union sponsored a program featuring George Galloway last May. Such fundraising, if proven, would not only violate university policy but also federal law. When the ZOA brought these concerns to the attention of UC Irvine’s chief campus counsel last September, UC Irvine publicly represented that the university had initiated an internal investigation – not only of the Muslim Student Union, but also of several university administrators who were present at the Galloway event where funds were solicited. These administrators knew or should have known that the university had not authorized the fundraising as required, and yet they failed to stop it or report it.
“We were informed that the university would be issuing its report on the investigation by the end of 2009. Then the date was altered to mid-January. The date for the university’s report was changed again to the end of January. Almost five months have now passed since the university was provided with evidence of the Muslim Student Union’s wrongdoing and possible violation of federal law, and yet to our knowledge, neither the Muslim Student Union nor a single administrator has been disciplined.
“The administration has given the Muslim Student Union a free pass, which we believe has emboldened this group and encouraged an atmosphere that tolerates and accepts anti-Semitism and Israel-bashing. The harassment of Israeli Ambassador Oren, and the repeated trampling on his free speech rights, are the inevitable consequences of the administration’s refusal to act.
“University policies are crystal clear. They prohibit harassment. They prohibit unauthorized fundraising. They prohibit the obstruction of university activities, like Ambassador Oren’s lecture. They prohibit disorderly conduct. They prohibit participating in a disturbance of the peace. They prohibit failing to comply with the directions of university officials, like those of Professor Mark P. Petracca, who appropriately chastised the hecklers at Ambassador Oren’s speech last evening, and called their conduct shameful and beyond embarrassing.
“In fact, the conduct was despicable and unacceptable and a poor reflection on Chancellor Drake and UC Irvine. It’s time for Chancellor Drake to stop dragging his feet: The Muslim Student Union’s registered status should be revoked and the group should no longer have the privilege of using university facilities. University administrators who have tolerated their misconduct should be disciplined. And the students responsible for the Muslim Student Union’s ongoing infractions should be terminated until they show an ability and willingness to comply with UC Irvine’s policies and the values that supposedly underpin the university, including integrity and respect for others.
“Under Chancellor Drake’s leadership, the anti-Semitism on campus has been allowed to escalate to the danger point. We must be concerned for the physical safety of Jewish students and professors. If someone gets hurt, the university administration will be responsible. We implore Chancellor Drake to finally take the disciplinary actions necessary to stamp out the anti-Israel, anti-Semitic incitement that has infected the university.”
Preceding provided by the Zionist Organization of America