UC Irvine Intimidates Students, Leaves Israeli War Criminal Alone

In a scene that hails the quintessential philosophies of civil disobedience, the arrests and possible academic consequences of 11 UC Irvine students has sparked outrage among many Southern California universities.

Last month, 11 UCI students were arrested for peacefully protesting a speech given by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren at the Irvine campus. Welcomed by the school's law and political science departments, Oren's speech was interrupted by the students who condemned his presence as an implied tolerance for Israeli war crimes and human rights violations, according to the Los Angeles Times.

According to the Answer Coalition Web site, the protests were executed with peaceful precision, with each of the 11 students standing up and orally denouncing Israeli atrocities and war crimes inflicted on the Palestinian people.

Facing possible academic sanctions including expulsion, the acts of these students who have lovingly been dubbed the "Irvine 11," has been heavily supported by many faculty and student governments at UCI, UCLA, and UCSD. In a letter posted on Irvine11.com, UCI Professor Rel Terada said, "...universities should be sensitive to all speech and action that is principled, and should be mindful of traditions of civil disobedience."

The Associated Students of the University of California San Diego unanimously passed a resolution condemning any disciplinary action of an academic nature on behalf of the Irvine 11. Excerpts from this resolution state "...we applaud their courage and this resolution is our way of saying that." They also expressed "...hope that we at UCSD have set an example for other campuses to support this movement and make sure these eleven students do not get expelled from their universities."

Considering Israel's unwanted and continued occupation of Palestine and the consequential killing of civilians and other war crimes, it is no wonder these students were compelled to these acts of dissent on behalf of human rights and justice.

The outrage expressed by both students and faculty alike has sparked a movement not only for the condemnation of UCI's seemingly tolerant stance on Israel's political crimes, but also for the 11 students who were courageous enough to stand up for their beliefs at the risk of sacrificing their university standing. Their acts of protest are examples of the power of free speech and the ability to inspire action using only a few voices in peaceful demonstration.

The acts themselves are not deserving of any disciplinary action. It is ludicrous to view these protests as anything but students exercising their freedom of speech as honored in the First Amendment. The act of civil disobedience is by definition illegal, but without the right to protest our hands become tied, and our uniquely American freedoms are dismantled.