Oren offers to return to Irvine university

JERUSALEM (JTA) –  Israel’s U.S. ambassador has offered to return to the California university where students interrupted his speech last month.

Michael Oren in an open letter Monday said he would meet with students at the University of California, Irvine who disagree with his point of view.

The letter to the university community was published on the Web site of the New University campus newspaper.

Oren was interrupted repeatedly during a speech Feb. 8 at the university, which for years has been at the center of campus wars over Israel. Eleven students were arrested for disturbing the lecture.

University President Mark Yudof and Chancellor Michael Drake apologized to Oren over the incident.

In his letter, Oren said, "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."

Hundreds of demonstrators converged last week on the university’s administration building in support of the 11 arrested students. A counter-demonstration with about 60 protesters was organized by area Jewish organizations.
 

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