Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren has penned an open letter to the students of the University of California, Irvine. Oren, who was nearly chased from the stage last month as he tried to give a lecture at the university, says he’d liked to try again.
I came to UCI for the opportunity to exchange ideas — a reasonable intention that was hijacked by a minority of students. The disruptive measures exhibited by these students only underscore the importance for dialogue, especially on the frontline of higher learning. The tragic fallout from this lecture is that those impassioned individuals most needing exposure to the Israeli perspective — and also needing to address their concerns in an appropriate manner — chose not to listen but rather to disrupt the event. Their methods, though championed by some, undermine the democratic principles on which the university system rests.
I have not given up hope on Irvine. I would willingly return to your campus and meet with those individuals whose views may not agree with mine as long as we respect the decorum of dialogue and free speech. Middle East issues are not devoid of emotion or nuance. Only with respect and sensitivity from all sides can we attain the conditions necessary to tackle one of the great issues of our time and realize the vision of peace.