Remember the group of young Jewish Voice for Peace activists who protested Israeli policy during Netanyahu’s speech in NOLA last November? You might recall that the young protesters were forcibly removed from the auditorium but faced no legal sanctions. (You may also recall that they were hailed as heroes by many Jewish editorial writers.)
As it turns out, eleven young Muslim students who staged a similar protest at UC Irvine during a speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren last February are facing possible prison sentences. The Orange County DA announced today it is charging the students with “conspiring to disrupt a meeting” and “disrupting a meeting.” If convicted they face a sentence ranging from community service/fine to up to six months in jail.
(JVP) notes that our own members have engaged in similar protests in the past without being charged, and stand by it as a form of legitimate expression in an open and democratic society. The targeting of a group of Muslim American students, who were already sanctioned and whose organization was already suspended by their university as punishment, is unacceptable and will only strengthen Islamophobia and attempts to stifle political speech in this country.
Whether you believe these students’ actions constituted civil disobedience or simple obnoxiousness, you can’t deny the egregious double standard. JVP will be hand-delivering a letter of protest to the Orange County DA this Wednesday and I’m proud to be a co-signer. If you’d like to contact the office yourself, click here.