[Ppnews] Nationwide condemnation of Irvine 11 convictions

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Sep 26 18:34:51 EDT 2011

Nationwide condemnation of Irvine 11 convictions by student and activist groups

Submitted by nora on Mon, 09/26/2011 - 19:54

Immediately following the 
of the Irvine 11 students last Friday, student 
and activism groups across the US have condemned 
the guilty verdicts while pledging to stand in 
solidarity with the 
11, defend free speech and protect the right to dissent.

More than 30 Students for Justice in Palestine 
(SJP) university chapters nationwide 
onto a pledge over the weekend that stated, in full:

We join our voices with the unjustly charged and 
convicted Irvine 11, who dared to draw attention 
to Israel’s war crimes. Orange County District 
Attorney, Tony Rackauckus, has punished students 
who care about the world enough to try to change 
it. The 11 students 
to remain silent when Israeli Ambassador Michael 
Oren spoke at the University of California, 
Irvine in February 2010. Their brief outbursts, 
at best representing protected First Amendment 
speech and at worst harmless civil disobedience, 
have led to McCarthyistic misdemeanor charges. On 
September 23, 2011, an Orange Country jury found them “guilty.”

We unequivocally condemn these charges, which 
unfairly single out and criminalize Muslim 
students who chose to exercise their First 
Amendment right to speak out against Israel’s 
human rights abuses. Had the speaker not been 
Israeli, had the issue not been Palestine, had 
the students not been Muslim, these charges never 
would have been pursued. Rather, these charges 
reflect a climate of Islamophobia and an 
irrational exceptionalism for Israel when it 
comes to free speech. The charges chill the free 
exchange of ideas and students’ right to protest at universities nationwide.

It is our right and duty to speak out against 
Israel’s egregious violations of international 
law and Palestinian rights. The American 
government gives Israel over three billion 
dollars a year in military aid and is therefore 
directly responsible for Israel’s actions. We are 
troubled by the increased suppression of student 
voices in support of the Palestinian struggle for 
freedom. Student groups around the country 
continue to be targeted for their criticisms of 
Israeli governmental policies. University 
administrators find themselves under intense 
pressure from the Israel Lobby when pro-Palestine 
events occur on campus. It comes in the form of 
public smearing, alumni pressure, and frivolous 
lawsuits, as well as U.S. Department of Education 
investigations that seek to classify criticism of 
Israel as a violation of students’ civil rights. 
But it is the criminal prosecution of the Irvine 
11 and the silencing of student activists 
everywhere that violate our civil rights.

It is inconceivable to suggest that Ambassador 
Oren, who has published four opinion-editorials 
in the New York Times alone and can easily 
command the attention of newspapers and 
television crews, has been denied a voice. On the 
other hand, it is routine for Palestinians to be 
silenced by the military and government that he 
represents without any media attention. The 
Irvine 11 shed light on the Palestinian voices 
constantly excluded from the media and public discourse.

To the Irvine 11: you are not alone. Like Dr. 
King wrote of his own unjust verdict, this week 
in September, the court convicted more than just 
you; it convicted every student dedicated to 
upholding human rights and ending injustice. We 
commend you for your courage and moral clarity. 
We know that the Irvine 11 are convicted 
criminals ­ but we are proud of their crime.

University’s Palestine Solidarity Committee 
posted a similar press release that stated:

The Irvine 11 should be commended for confronting 
Oren’s propaganda effort to whitewash Israel’s 
criminal actions and policies in front of college 
audiences. Instead, they have been unjustly 
punished for constitutionally-protected dissent 
that is a routine part of student activism, including here at Harvard.

On November 23, 2009, Harvard students also 
staged a walk-out of a speech by Oren at the 
Harvard Kennedy School. Last year, AIDS activists 
from Harvard and other colleges 
and interrupted President Obama while he spoke in 
Boston. In neither case were students punished 
for exercising their right to protest.

 We call on students to support the Irvine 11 as 
they move ahead in appealing this unjust verdict. 
Further, we call on students to redouble their 
Palestine solidarity efforts. This attack only 
reinforces the urgency of continuing to organize 
in support of equality, justice and freedom for 
Palestinians and all oppressed peoples.

Meanwhile, interfaith organizations say they 
continue their committment to solidarity and 
support of the Irvine 11 and the right to free speech for everyone.

Voice for Peace posted its statement over the weekend, which read, in part:

This is a shameful day for the legal system and 
the Jewish communal leaders who actively 
supported this unfair railroading of young Muslim 
students and unprecedented attack on everyone’s 
right to free speech. How can it be that the 
Israeli ambassador enjoys more rights in the 
United States than do young Muslim citizens?

We hope this prompts some real soul searching 
among those who actively supported the case 
against the Irvine students simply because they 
didn’t like what the students had to say about Israel’s human rights record.

The principle of free expression for even 
unpopular speech, as it applies to all people, is 
fundamental to democracy. And it is never, ever 
OK to allow or support the unjust targeting of a 
minority group ­ which is what happened here. And 
frankly, as a religious and ethnic minority who 
was once a largely young immigrant population, 
Jews of all people should understand the need to protect minority rights.

And J. Jon Bruno, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese 
of Los Angeles/Orange County, 
this to say about the convictions and the need for interfaith solidarity:

Obviously in light of the Irvine 11 verdicts 
there is an immediate need for improved listening 
to one another across faith traditions and 
reaching a new place of mutual respect. Today I 
am calling upon fellow Orange County bishops, 
rabbis, and Islamic leaders to come together 
immediately in renewed solidarity to address the 
issues and injustices raised in relation to these 
verdicts. Our Episcopal congregations will also 
increase participation in the Shura Council’s 
Open Mosque Day on October 16 to demonstrate our 
understanding that Islam is at its core a 
religion of peace within our shared Abrahamic 
tradition, and deserving of equal protection under First Amendment freedoms.

For more on the Irvine 11 solidarity campaign, 
visit the Stand With the Eleven website at 

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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