Quoted: Electronic Infitada On The Irvine 11

The conviction of the Irvine 11 is a testament to the degree that Islamophobia has grown in the West. Moreover, it is a testament to how unwilling the United States has become to question its relationship with Israel. Any means can be used to silence such questioning — even the criminalization of free speech.

The Israel lobby and the US government are working hand-in-hand against efforts to raise awareness about the occupation and human rights abuses perpetrated against the Palestinians. This trial, the FBI raids on Palestine solidarity activists in the Midwest and the undermining of the UN Palestinian statehood bid show it.

What are the implications of the conviction of the Irvine 11 for Palestine solidarity student activists? One can only imagine the worries that now must run through the minds of these young students: Will I be seen as a criminal? Will the Israeli authorities deny me entry to Palestine next year due to my activism, when a cursory Google search can easily show that connection? Am I jeopardizing my future job opportunities as a result of my activism? Am I being, or am I going to be, investigated or targeted by the FBI?

One must keep in mind that these students now living in fear are Americans. Their intentions and passion for social justice is an American value. Yet student activists are now vulnerable to being criminalized This fear of criminalization may even echo into social justice movements which have yet to form, so essentially what the Irvine 11 conviction represents is a campaign to instill fear in anyone seeking to challenge the status quo in American politics.

- From “Why the Irvine 11 Are True American Heroes,” by Sanah Yassin

  • Peppermint

     These guys may have disrupted the speech, but to try that as a criminal offense reeks of Islamophobia and Arab hate. Their heckling of the ambassador, who does represent an apartheid state, lasted a total of one minute. One minute! Hardly a disruption. And what about those who were yelling at the protesters? They too disrupted the speech but were not prosecuted. And how many other examples are there of students peacefully protesting in this manner and being prosecuted for it? I can’t think of any. This was just another attempt at silencing the voice of resistance to Israeli oppression of Palestinians. The atmosphere is becoming increasingly hostile to anyone who criticizes the crimes of the Israeli government against a Palestinians. 

  • Annie

    It takes no courage to heckle a person off the stage. It takes no courage to organize a plan to deny someone freedom of speech. It takes no courage to shout at someone,  instead of pinning them to the wall with facts and logic. It takes no courage to claim to be a victim when you knowingly and willingly broke laws after numerous warnings.  Is this the behavior we want lectures to have? Are we all right having speakers shouted and heckled off the stage on both sides of every issue? 

    Ambassador Michael Oren was invited to speak by the University. The students broke university policy. Even their defenders such as Erwin Chemerinsky said: 

    “The students who disrupted the speech of Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren in February 2010 unquestionably acted improperly. They engaged in a concerted effort to silence Oren and drive him from the podium.I strongly disagree with those who try and defend the students as engaging in free speech. The First Amendment does not protect the right of people to go into an auditorium and try to shout down a speaker. No one has a First Amendment right to go into my class, or to a city council meeting, or to a court session, or into an auditorium on campus and keep a speaker from being heard. No court would find that the students were engaged in protected speech.” 

  • http://twitter.com/SeanJamesOliver SeanOliver

    Um… they have every right to complain.  They had to endure court proceedings for a legitimate protest.    And as pro-Israel folks are a significant majority in this county (both in terms of numbers and in terms of cash flow), the Jewish students wouldn’t need to.  They’re the status quo.  The argument that Jews control the US is bologna, but the fact that pro-Israel is the default viewpoint in the US, and is a political viewpoint with tons cash dependent on it, is just that, a fact.  

    • SouthJerseyJew

      Nothing you said justifies them disrupting the speech that arrogantly.  Since when are California colleges bastions of right-wing viewpoints?  As though guys like Norman Finkelstein and other anti-Israel activists and speakers aren’t invited in similar numbers to express their viewpoint?

      I didn’t say their viewpoint was illegitimate.  I said their actions were childish and unacceptable.  Pro-Israel may be the “default viewpoint” of the U.S., but that’s because people have decided they support Israel over the Palestinians.  Anti-Israel is the default viewpoint literally everywhere else other than a few countries in Europe.  They’re exercising rights that Jews wouldn’t dare to in places like Egypt or Saudi Arabia.  Imagine a group of Jewish-Egyptians trying to shout down a Palestinian speaker at an Egyptian university.  It would get ugly very quickly.

      The “Irvine 11″ are not heroes by any means.

  • Nek1

    “Every person who, without authority of law, willfully disturbs or
    breaks up any assembly or meeting that is not unlawful in its character,
    other than an assembly or meeting referred to in Section 302 of the
    Penal Code or Section 18340 of the Elections Code, is guilty of a
    misdemeanor.”
    CAL. PEN. CODE § 403

    You want to argue that the law is too broad and it is damaging to free speech? Go right ahead. But I can’t see how one could plausibly argue that they didn’t violate the law under which they are being charged.