February 9, 2010
NEW YORK (JTA) -- At least 11 students were arrested for interrupting a lecture by Israel's U.S. ambassador at a California university.
Michael Oren was interrupted repeatedly during his speech Monday night at the University of California, Irvine, which for years has been at the center of campus wars over Israel.
Oren was removed from the stage for a period because of the outbursts, prompting a university faculty member to take the podium and admonish the crowd, calling the incident "embarrassing."
Oren returned to finish his speech but did not take questions from the audience, as was scheduled, Haaretz reported.
In a statement received by the Orange County Register, the university's Muslim Student Union said, "We condemn and oppose the presence of Michael Oren, the ambassador of Israel to the United States, on our campus today."
The University of California, Irvine has long been a flashpoint for the Israel wars on American campuses, with both sides leveling accusations of intimidation. The Zionist Organization of America complained about the situation to the U.S. Department of Education, which concluded there was insufficient evidence that the university had failed to adequately respond to complaints of harassment.
More recently, the ZOA called on the Department of Justice to probe alleged fund-raising activities on behalf of Hamas by Irvine students.