Are the Muslim protesters who were arrested at UCI heroes or villains?

The Muslim Student Union at the University of California at Irvine (UCI) is appealing a suspension they received after 11 Muslim students were arrested during Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s speech on campus in February. Those 11 students stood up one at a time and yelled during Oren’s presentation and were subsequently detained, according to the O.C. Register.

I looked at the video above and sure enough, it looked like the disruption was planned.

That said, I asked myself, who is this guy Michael Oren?

Here are excerpts from his bio.:

Michael B. Oren is the State of Israel’s Ambassador to the United States.

A graduate of Princeton and Columbia, Dr. Oren has received fellowships from the U.S. Departments of State and Defense, and from the British and Canadian governments. Formerly, he was the Lady Davis Fellow of Hebrew University, a Moshe Dayan Fellow at Tel-Aviv University, and the Distinguished Fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard, Yale, and Georgetown.

Ambassador Oren has written extensively for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The New Republic, where he was a contributing editor. His two most recent books, Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East and Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present, were both New York Times bestsellers. They won the Los Angeles Times’ History Book of the Year prize, a National Council of the Humanities Award, and the National Jewish Book Award.

Raised in New Jersey, where he was an activist in Zionist youth movements and a gold medal winning athlete in the Maccabia Games, Ambassador Oren moved to Israel in the 1970s. He served as an officer in the Israel Defense Forces, in the paratroopers in the Lebanon War, a liaison with the U.S. Sixth Fleet during the Gulf War, and an IDF spokesman during the Second Lebanon War and the Gaza operation in January 2009. He acted as an Israeli Emissary to Jewish refuseniks in the Soviet Union, as an advisor to Israel’s delegation to the United Nations, and as the government’s director of Inter-Religious Affairs. He has testified before Congress and briefed the White House on Middle Eastern affairs.

Interesting.  This guy Oren is no common diplomat.  He has Arab blood on his hands.  Now you could argue how that came to be, but the fact is I can understand why Muslim students might not be happy to welcome this man to their campus.

American students of color have a long history of protesting perceived wrongs.  Check out the video below, which chronicles what happend when African American students conducted mass sit-ins in restaurants that barred them because they were black.  I am sure that in that time they were viewed as negatively as the Muslim students in question.

These Muslim students aren’t monsters, I don’t think.  They are brave individuals who risked everything for what they thought waas right. 

Israel has done the wrong thing in the Middle East for a long time including attacking a peaceful flotilla recently that was trying to deliver non-military supplies to Gaza. It should then come as no surprise that Muslim students at UCI aren’t too keen on guys like Oren coming to their campus.

That begs the question, why was Oren there? What did UCI hope to accomplish? Isn’t it a bit inflammatory to invite professional members of the military, who are now in the guise as diplomats, to a campus with a large Muslim population?

And to make matters worse, the MSU is a religious organization.  The suspension will affect hundreds of Muslim students who attend regular Friday prayers, worship and socialize together, according to an MSU spokesman.

Protests are never pretty.  When American patriots broke into a shipyard and stole tea from a merchant ship, and threw it in the Boston Harbor, it was an act of terrorism that we celebrate today as an act of patriotism. 

When those African American students conducted sit-ins in the 1960’s, the white residents in those towns didn’t like it.  But civil rights prevailed.

When Mexican students were segregated, right here in Orange County, the Mendez family spoke up and filed a lawsuit.  I am sure they were vilified then.  Today they are heroes.

Perhaps when there is finally peace in the Middle East, and Israel stops mistreating the people of Palestine, we might one day look back at what the MSU students did at UCI and find a new perspective.  Or perhaps not.  In these dark times Americans find it all too easy to hate.  Just look at what many Orange County residents think of Mexican immigrants…

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