Censorship at UC Irvine

Recently Michael Oren, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, who is an academic historian and a political moderate, was invited to speak at the University of California at Irvine.  I know Michael well and have heard him speak many times.  He is one of Israel’s most effective advocates, particularly on university campuses.  He speaks about peace, about the two-state solution and he brings a historical perspective to his analysis.  Because he is so effective, anti-Israel zealots try to prevent him from speaking and his audience from hearing his views.

That’s exactly what happened at the University of California at Irvine when Oren began to speak.  This tactic of censorship will be tried at other universities as well, if it is permitted to succeed.

Let there be no doubt about it, these radical anti-Israel zealots are trying to censor Michael Oren.  After repeatedly disrupting his speech and making it impossible for him to continue, eleven of them were arrested and now face possible disciplinary action from the University of California, a public institution.

They and their supporters now claim that the eleven disruptors whose right of free speech is being violated.  They are threatening legal action to defend their right to prevent a speaker from expressing his views and an audience from hearing those views.  This is a topsy-turvy view of the First Amendment.

It is true that an individual heckler may have the right to shout in opposition to a speaker, so long as his shouted words are brief and non-recurrent.  But any fair viewing of the videotape, available on YouTube, proves beyond any doubt that this was a concerted effort to silence Michael Oren and to prevent his audience from hearing his point of view.  The university was correctly embarrassed at this attempt at censorship.

I too speak on college campuses, trying to make the moderate, two-state solution case on behalf of Israel.  My speeches have been greeted with shouts of disapproval and efforts to silence me.  When I spoke last year at the University of Massachusetts, a similar effort was made to prevent me from expressing my view.  I refused to remain silent and I simply shouted over the ruckus.  Eventually the University had to end the event.  When I spoke at the University of California at Irvine several years earlier, there was also some heckling, but there was no coordinated effort to stop me from speaking.  Similar groups have succeeded in preventing other pro-Israel speakers, including Israel’s former Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, and its current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, from speaking.

These attempts to prevent college audiences from hearing pro-Israel speakers must be taken very seriously by universities.  As Michael Oren explained in the beginning of his talk, universities are places where full and complete freedom of speech must be given a high priority.  Freedom of speech does permit the right of audience members to express views different from a speaker, so long as they obey reasonable rules and do not prevent the speaker from expressing his or her views.  Reasonable rules include permitting the holding of signs, so long as they do not block anyone’s view, the handing out of leaflets, an opportunity to ask questions at the end of the talk and sporadic and non-recurrent booing or shouting of brief comments

I have defended students who have been subjected to discipline for shouting a single word, for holding a sign or for making an obscene gesture.  But I would not defend a so-called right of a group of students to act in a coordinated manner in an effort to prevent a speaker from expressing views that the audience is entitled to hear.

There are several rights at stake in any such case.  First is the right of the speaker, who has been invited by the university to present his point of view.  Second is the right of the audience to hear his point of view.  Third is the right of audience members who disagree with his point of view to express opposition.  These rights need not be in conflict, so long as there is no effort to prevent the speaker from conveying his point of view to the audience.

From what I saw on the videotape, it seemed clear that there was a coordinated effort of censorship, and not merely an exercise of free speech by audience members who disagreed with what Oren was saying.  If such a coordinated effort at censorship is established by the evidence, then discipline is warranted.

  • Marty

    Organized demonstrations against Israel and worldwide Jewry by the Muslim community are getting out of hand. They are stumping on basic American civil rights such as freedom of speech and are causing Americans to questions the motivation of our leaders.

    As a grateful American Jew, I love this country that has allowed me to be Jewish without fear and has allowed me to thrive. In the fifties, I was a kid but was aware of McCarthyism, an over-reaction to the growth and fear of worldwide Communism. Now I see another ism, "jihardism". It is being caused by the organized, outragious actions of Muslim groups. These actions are so radical, that they are causing the average American citizen to question whether there is a world-wide Muslim movement to infiltrate and gain control of countries around the world including America. Is Sweden not having to deal with this problem right now?

    Remember, McCarthyism could not win and neither can "jihardism". Both are wrong and, in the long run, good trumps evil.

    • http://www.itecode.com eerie Steve

      Rest assured in the Talmud my friend, and remember that this is just a Freudian childish expression of "I want to live under seige too!"

      Little do these animals know what life under siege is. Eerie Steve says that entropic forces will go to work and they will pox these people with a new plague of black death.

    • PersonhoodCO

      Good trumps evil, yes, but unless evil is confronted it destroys everything in its path. Foolish men have made feeble attempts to confront evil (ie McCarthy/Communism) but in the end Communism killed untold millions while learned people set idly by. At least the Commies, weren't willing to die for a demonstrably lost cause. Those who hate the Apple of His eye, are willing & eager to do just that. Will we learned (or foolish) stand by again?

  • Robert

    It is obvious in the effort to stop Michael Oren to speak at the U of C Irvine that Muslims on the campus are afraid of ideas contrary to their own. Perhaps because their religion does not allow any questioning it becomes a matter of faith to live in rooms with no windows or doors. Ignorance is so sad. No wonder that the Muslim world is so backward.

  • Robert

    Attention Front Page: Second comment above is a correction to Robert's first comment above. Your software allows no chance to correct spelling, etc. Something to look into. Thanks.

  • DogWithoutSlippers

    The disruption of Michael Oren, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States at the University of California at Irvine shows a coordinated attack by the 'enemy' – THE ENEMY! Unless we start thinking this way and unfornately have to negate rights for muslims (students included) we will eventually be shouted down and intimidated. Any breaking of the 'Infidel' rules must result in dismissal.

  • Robert

    It is obvious in the effort to stop Michael Oren to speak at the U of C Irvine that Muslims on the campus are afraid of ideas contrary to their own. Perhaps because their religion does not allow any questioning it becomes a matter of fatih to live in live in rooms with no windows or doors. Ignorance is so sad. No wonder that the Muslim world is so backward.

  • jacob

    In my humble opinion, what is proper and adequate is to summarily expel these students and make an example for all other teaching institutions with Muslim students to behave properly or face expulsion.

    Just as simple as that and I don't believe any court of law will rule any different .

    Let them sue and lets see where will it get them.
    Besides, I guess it has become a matter of public interest and demanding a ruling even from
    the Supreme Court on the issue…

    But will ultra-liberal California universities do anything to stop this practice ???

    Of course, in view of the open Arab "donnations" , allow me to doubt it…..

  • Steve Chavez


    I have attended hundreds of PEACE MEETING INCLUDING SOME RUN BY "SECRET" MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY USA and they would try to ban me and silence me by not calling on me which is their right but I never disrupted the meeting by shouting. I usually smiled at the speaker, who was told beforehand not to call on me, and to nod in agreement with the him/her. They would see my actions and think I was agreeing with them SO THEY WOULD CALL ON ME. I USED THEIR OWN WORDS AGAINST THEM AND WARN STUDENTS THAT ATTENDED NOT TO BE FOOLED BY THEIR RECRUITING TOOL BASED ON LIES. MANY STUDENTS WOULD COME UP TO ME AFTER THE SPEECH AND THANK ME. Students would also come up to me on campus and thank me. I then questioned on why they attended and many times it was their professor who required them to attend WHICH MEANS THE PROFESSOR WAS PART OF THE RECRUITMENT!

  • Steve Chavez


    THE ANSWER: REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY! These university Leftists, from the janitors to the President, will carve in stone the rules of free speech against disrupting their speakers WHICH CAN THEN BE USED AGAINST THEM!


    • Steve

      "I also advised Horowitz, and other speakers on the Muslim tour, TO PLAY FILMS OF ABUSE OF MUSLIM WOMEN BEFORE THE SPEECH BEGINS."

      I do not think this is a bad idea. Not in the least. If his host will permit it.

  • Steve

    Professor Dershowitz wrote: "(Oren) is one of Israel’s most effective advocates….He speaks about peace, about the two-state solution and he brings a historical perspective to his analysis…..I too speak on college campuses, trying to make the moderate, two-state solution case on behalf of Israel….."

    Shouldn't this – and many other similar examples – offer an object lesson to Ambassador Oren, Alan Dershowitz and others who dream of a Palestinian-Muslim state living in peace side by side a truncated sliver of a Jewish state? Here we have an Israeli ambassador "who speaks about peace, about the two state solution," and he is met by jeers and disruptions by Muslim listeners in his audience. It may as well have been the late Rabbi Meir Kahane speaking to this audience about the need to expel all Arabs from Israel. Today, Oren is treated like Kahane.

  • Steve

    Isn't it abundantly clear, Israel's enemies do not want a two state solution? And if a two state solution is achieved, isn't it abundantly clear to Ambassador Oren and Professor Dershowitz that any land the Jews evacuate and cede will be used as staging ground by the Palestinians for the eradication of Israel? This is what is commonly referred to as the PLO's "Phased Plan."

    "According to the Phased Plan we will establish a Palestinian state on any part of Palestine that the enemy will retreat from. The Palestinian state will be a stage in our prolonged struggle for the liberation of all of Palestine."-Abu Iyad

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Trus Trus

      That's only clear if you pay attention to the facts. But those are the things that confuse islamists. They also confuse liberals who can't stand the idea that Israel belongs to the Jew. To both factions, history began when Muslims first occupied the Holy Mount.

  • BRZ

    I'm sure if someone digs, they'll find that the UC Irvine Muslim students were part of the Muslim Student Association, another front organization of the Muslim Brotherhood, with deep funding in the millions yearly by Saudis and direct student 'talent' from that countries and related countries. Their mission is to undermine students' understanding of true history, of Islam, of Judaism, Christianity, the West, Israel and the US. They are fomenting problems on 600 colleges/univiersities where they are now on campus. This group and all other Muslim Brotherhood connected groups must be investigated (FBI/Congress), to either better monitor or ideally shutter completely under existing sedition laws. We keep talking about terrorists 'out there', when our biggest problem is the sleath jihad taking place daily here! The hijacking of American education is underway, to poison our youth and weaken our will. Our government, both parties, are complicit in allowing these evil, seditious activities to begin and continue…

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/JosephWiess JosephWiess

    It's sad to say, but this is the tactic of choice for the modern anarchist, if you don't like what is being said, you resort to shouting them down.

    It used to be that two opposing sides would be civil about it and have a debate, and the side that swayed the people would win, but now it's, "I don't want to hear you, so nobody else should either." It's too bad that this lesson has been taught by the unions and black panthers.

    We need to get back to our civilized debates and communicate with each other.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Trus Trus

      Oh that we could…we certainly would. But since they don't, we certainly won't. Simply the Truth.

  • Steve Chavez

    The ONLY WAY to make university administrators understand this issue is FOR A GROUP OF CONSERVATIVES TO DISRUPT A LEFTIST/LIBERAL SPEAKER! They will be screaming, and since they are in charge of the university newspaper, all the way to the President's office.

    Action against the Conservatives will probably include expulsion with the excuse of "denying free speech of a guest speaker that will educate our students to issues important to shaping an informed decision based on facts."

    This issue reminds one of an incidents against David Horowitz and the placing of "hate Muslim" flyers around campus by Leftist and Muslim groups. The administration came down hard on the group that invited Horowitz and even attributed hateful comments that Horowitz never spoke or wrote. Then the truth was revealed: IT WAS THE LEFTISTS AND MUSLIMS WHO MADE UP AND PASSED OUT THE FLYERS! THE ADMINSTRATION DID NOTHING TO THEM FOR THIS OBVIOUS INCITEMENT TO RIOT IN THE HOROWITZ SPEECH!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Dar_al_Harb LibertyLover

    Islam is an aberation. Evolution made a brief detour and recovered, but unfortunately about 1.5 billion human beings are now suffering as a result of this deviation. Now they are trying to silence anyone who recognizes this mistake of nature. No thinking person can embrace the Religion on Hate (Islam) and claim to being anything other than a savage.

  • xavier

    No I think Alan D is wrong on this one. The 1st amendment does not give you the right to interupt someone who is being brought in to a give a speech or a lecture. People went to that event to hear Mr. Oren speak. I sure they did not go to hear him rudely interupted . If you went to movie and people started to scream at the screen the movie theater would remove them. What should have been and what should be done is if anyone interupts a guest speaker's speech he should be immediately removed. Do that a few times and you will stop the bullying . If you want to protest a speaker do it in another forum.

  • Albert Himoe

    xavier wrote,
    "What should have been and what should be done is if anyone interupts a guest speaker's speech he should be immediately removed. Do that a few times and you will stop the bullying ."

    Watch the video. This was done. It did not stop the bullying. There clearly was an orchestrated effort. Also, an entire Muslim section clapped and shouted every time one of their number rose to shout down Dr. Oren. They are all guilty of attempting to stop Dr. Oren from expressing his views. To protect freedom of speech on university campuses, university administrators must enforce rules on audience behavior, not just arrest the designated interrupters.

  • joseM

    if protestors can do "handing out of leflets", the speaker and his friends CAN give a brief conspect of his speech, not in a form of a pile or a batch, which can be thrown away by protestors, but handing it to everybody who enters the room.
    This would ensure, in a case of ending the event prematurely, that everyone gets the chance to become familiar with your ideas.

  • PAthena

    According to the claims of the Mohammedans trying to shut Ambassador Orens up, using Roberts Rules of Order at meeting, rules of procedure in courts, etc. are a violation of Freedom of Speech.
    (Incidentally, I do not think that adding another Arab state in the historic lands of the Jews, Judea and Samaria, is right or will bring peace. The dispute between Israel and the Arabs is purely religious. Peace would be established instantly if the Arabs stopped waging war against Israel. Israel can do nothing except remain firm and not indulge in travesties like the Oslo Agreement, withdrawal from Lebanon, and withdrawal from Gaza. See Conor Cruise O'Brien's THE SIEGE.)

  • BS1977

    Why are these loud mouth barbarians going to school in the United States? Why don't they go to Pakistan University or Sudan Tech? The moronic liberal appeasers and open borders ACLU types have pushed open the gates of our nation to permit the Trojan Horse of radical anti American and anti Israeli hate to grow and fester within our country, The 9/11 hijackers were givent the red carpet treatment by our idiotic immigration bureaucrats…..the 1993 WTC bombers as well. Why is it so important to have vermin like the underwear bomber given access to our nation? Why are thugs and America haters not deported ASAP????? They are using our Constitution as a crowbar to dislodge and disorient our society.


    Let's not forget that FPM has tried to silence every advocate of the two-state solution.

  • badaboo

    And rightly so , because THERE IS NO TWO STATE SOLUTION . Pay attention to what's going on and what is being said by muslims to MUSLIMS ,not the pablum they feed the west out the other side of their mouths . Find out what a "hudna " is , for that is all that is being offered by the palestinians , Hamas , Fatah , and any other islamic group that falsely claims the possibility of living side by side in peace with ANY JEW , let alone a jewish nation .
    Get your head out "your bucket " .

  • badaboo

    …and BTW , I greatly admire Mr.Dershowitz , always have and most likely always will …..but he's got this one wrong [POSSIBILITYOF A TWO STATE SOLUTION]. Well intentioned , but wrong .

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Trus Trus

    And a happy day to you too. Ah-h-h…I can feel the love.

  • badaboo

    No bonjour , to hell with you and Israel's detractors [and haters as yourself ] . Israel will not fall , America will always support it's ALLY and FREIND ….choke on that .