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Jews stand against Islamophobia and for free speech at UC Irvine

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August 2010

To the Office of Student Conduct of UC Irvine, the UC Irvine Administration, and members of the UC Irvine Campus Community,

We are Jewish students, academics, teachers, and activists writing to oppose the recommendation, issued this past June, to suspend the UC Irvine Muslim Student Union.
We are outraged at this threat, which is a racist attack, a form of religious bigotry, and an infringement of students' rights to free speech and free expression.

We urge the UC Irvine administration to hear the appeal of the Muslim Student Union and to not proceed in revoking the organization's charter for one year. We stand with the Muslim Student Union because:
    •    The students who were arrested and now face punitive measures were exercising their right to speak freely. These students staged a legitimate protest against the public appearance of Michael Oren, Israeli ambassador to the US, at a public, university-sponsored event. This event gave an open podium to a representative of the State of Israel just a year after the Israeli assault on Gaza that left over 1,400 dead, including over 300 Palestinian children. The students who protested engaged in the noble and ethical act of non-violent participation in democratic society.
    •    Suspension of the Muslim Student Union means the repression and targeting of hundreds of students based on their religion. The overwhelming majority of students in the Muslim Student Union had nothing to do with the protests in question; those who did protest simply exercised their individual right to organize and speak freely at a public institution of higher education.
    •    We see this as part of a disturbing trend in the US and beyond, of widespread Islamophobia and racism, which includes Zionist and right-wing organizations' increasingly aggressive attempts to attack and silence Muslim voices. We are aware of the great pressure that Orange County Zionist Jewish organizations put on the school to recommend the suspension and their efforts to smear MSU with false charges of anti-Semitism. As Jews committed to dignity for all people, we assert that organizing for justice in Palestine is not anti-Jewish; it is an expression of our collective humanity. Furthermore, we take anti-Jewish sentiment seriously and resent it being misused for an agenda to shut down criticism of Israel.
    •    Suspension of the MSU will do nothing to further justice, peace, freedom or equality; on the contrary, denying Muslim students their right to free speech, freedom of religion and freedom of assembly, is an act in opposition to core democratic values and ultimately the security of all of our civil rights.

We call on the UC Irvine administration to uphold students' rights to free speech and to protect the right of the MSU to keep its chartered status like all other religious organizations on campus. We call on all individuals of conscience and organizations for justice to support the Muslim Student Union in its appeal against the pending suspension.



International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN)


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