As campuses around the world gear up for two weeks of anti-Israel agitation, the school that was continually drawn the most attention is once again in the news. At the University of California, Irvine on Tuesday, several hundred gathered in support of the 11 students arrested for disrupting a speech by the Israeli ambassador last month and in protest of what they say is the "conflating" of the Irvine 11 with other recent acts of racism on California campuses.
I’ve spent the better part of an hour now trying to find evidence of such conflation on the part of the UC administration, and to no avail. It is claimed that the UC President, Mark Yudof, made such an equation in an email or a statement, but so far I can’t find it. The closest thing so far is this L.A. Times story about Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s condemnation of "acts of racism and intolerance" at UC campuses. As the story notes, the governor didn’t mention any specific instances, but the Times did — noting the Irvine 11 incident along with a recent protest of Black History Month at at an off-campus party and the discovery of a noose in the library at UC San Diego.
Similarly, a generic condemnation of "acts of racism, intolerance and incivility" issued by Yudof and the 10 UC chancellors has been portrayed as equating the Irvine 11 with blatant acts of racist hostility.
The Orange County Register, in its coverage of the Tuesday protest, said the students were opposed to "a recent statement issued by University of California President Mark Yudof that condemned the Michael Oren protest alongside the recent racist incidents at UCSD and UC Davis including the ‘Compton Cookout.’"
Only problem is, the only statement I can find is the generic one. In other words, this "conflation" business seems imagined. But I have some calls in, and if anyone can set this issue straight, let us know.
In the meantime, here’s some video of what went down at Irvine yesterday. It’s worth watching if only to see the lawyer from the group defending the Irvine 11 say that if the university was serious about academic freedom, it should invite a speaker from Hamas.
And if you want all the breaking news out of Irvine, check out this blog.