Does Islamophobia Color Some Support of Criminal Charges Against the 'Irvine 11'?

Critics of Orange County District Attorney

Tony Rackauckas

's decision to seek criminal charges against the 11 students arrested for interrupting the speech of Israeli Ambassador

Michael Oren

last February at UC Irvine include national and statewide organizations, community leaders, esteemed UC Irvine faculty, and Facebook groups.

Officials at the district attorney's office add an equal measure of support for charging the students has poured in as well. The Simon Wiesenthal Center, which operates the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, recently added its voice to those commending prosecution of the "Irvine 11."

Another group cheering the filing of charges is raising eyebrows--and YouTube video views.

The pro-Israeli group Stand With Us released the video above, titled "Demonstrators for 'Free Speech' Gather to Deny Free Speech to Others," which juxtaposes footage of the Irvine 11 interrupting the Israeli ambassador on Feb. 8, 2010, with images and recordings from the Feb. 1, 2011, protest in front of the DA's Santa Ana office in defense of the students.

The loud voices of student protesters are heard, as are those of Irvine 11 sympathizers such as UCI comparative-literature professor Rei Terada, who is recorded saying the students will "bring honor to the university." This is among a number of scenes followed by the quote "Why would anyone defend this kind of uncivilized tactic?"

Roz Rothstein, CEO and cofounder of Stand With Us, explained her organization's approval of criminal charges. "I couldn't understand why they [the Irvine 11] were being defended because it was so hostile," she said. "They behaved inappropriately, and they didn't follow the obvious rules of civil discourse in the university."

She knows firsthand how boisterous the Oren protesters were, since she was in the audience that evening. She adds that she was sitting behind the person who "was texting everyone before they stood up" at Oren's speech, which is cited in the misdemeanor charges alleging students conspired to drown out the ambassador.

Asked whether her disapproval of the student dissenters had anything to do with her organization's pro-Israeli stance, Rothstein claimed, "The face and ideology has nothing to do with it."

An examination of the website shows it was founded in 2001; is based in Los Angeles; and also has offices and chapters in Orange County, New York, Denver, Michigan, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, the U.K., Australia and Israel.

The coalition describes itself as an "international education organization that ensures that Israel's side of the story is told." DVDs are available on the site, such as Hate Speech On Campus, which features various university campus speakers, including Abdel Malik Ali, who has frequently been hosted by UC Irvine's Muslim Student Union--and who is frequently charged with making extremely anti-Semitic statements.

Articles on alleged anti-Jewish activities on various campuses are also included. Links to some articles describe Palestinians as "coddled victims on whom the world has spent billions and who have rejected one peace offer after another."


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