Now available for mobile phones!

If you wish to view the blog on mobile phone, click here.

Would you like to comment on postings?
Join the Jewish Current Events page on Facebook.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Disruption of Israeli speakers on campus is denial of free speech

Freedom of speech on college campuses *must* be protected. The public needs to be aware of the orchestrated disruption of Israeli speakers on campuses.   "There is no right to a 'heckler's veto.' "   

If you are concerned about this growing tactic and would like further information, contact JCRC of the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines at

Dean: UCI protesters violated free speech   February 10th, 2010

Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Irvine School of Law and an internationally-renowned expert on the Constitution, says that the students who yelled at Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren during a campus lecture Monday were suppressing free speech. (Coverage of protest.)

Eleven students — eight from UCI, three from UC Riverside — were arrested by campus police and cited for disrupting a public event. The arrests occurred while Oren was trying to discuss U.S.-Israel relations before an audience of 500 people in the UCI Student Center.
“They shouted him down,” Chemerinsky said. “Imagine if they had brought their own speaker and that person had been shouted down. There would be no free speech. There is no right to a ‘heckler’s veto’ “.

University officials announced before the lecture that Oren would answer questions from the audience at the end of his talk, a plan that was canceled after the ambassador was interrupted on 10 separate occasions by protesters. Police escorted each protester from the auditorium, which Chemerinsky says the police were entitled to do.

ADL Dismayed At Confrontational Tactics Aimed At Israeli Speakers On Campus

New York, NY, February 9, 2010 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today expressed concern over the increasing use of undemocratic, bullying, confrontational tactics intended to silence Israeli officials and the expression of pro-Israel views on campus.

"America's college campuses are the cradle of our democracy, where the marketplace of ideas thrives and young people – often for the first time – are exposed to new and different ideas," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.   

"Unfortunately, anti-Israel activists on our campuses are increasingly resorting to undemocratic, bullying, confrontational tactics in order to silence Israeli officials and the expression of pro-Israel views.  Such mean-spirited efforts to stifle speech have no place in an academic environment where speakers need to be free to express their ideas – and interested audiences have a right to hear those ideas – without fear or intimidation."

Continuing on a trend that began in earnest last year by anti-Israel activists, Israeli officials have been shouted down, heckled and otherwise intimidated by students and other protesters.  These disruptions have resulted in the arrests of some students and the removal of others, and required security to escort the pro-Israel speakers out of the venues as a protective measure.

"While students and community members certainly have the right to engage in peaceable protest, the tactics employed by anti-Israel activists have significantly disrupted the speakers and prevented the free flow of information and ideas that are so critical in a democracy," said Mr. Foxman.

The most recent incidents, other than at UC-Irvine:

·  University of California, Los Angeles: Anti-Israel activists disrupted a talk at the law school by Daniel Taub, Senior Deputy Legal Adviser to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, on February 8. Audience members wearing t-shirts with anti-Israel messages and duct tape covering their mouths, stood up and blocked views of the stage. They were asked to leave by the faculty members multiple times before being escorted out by campus police.

·   University of Pittsburgh: Anti-Israel activists disrupted a talk by former Israeli Knesset member Effie Eitam on February 3.  Interruptions occurred throughout the speech. Some of the protesters were asked to leave the building by campus Hillel, which organized the event. Approximately 25 individuals participated in a protest outside of the venue, organized by the university's chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine and a local peace and justice center.