In what appears to be a growing government trend of prosecuting outspoken supporters of Palestine, 11 Muslim students were arrested for disrupting a speech–in this case that of the ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren. The incident took place last year on the campus of the University of California at Irvine. The local District Attorney claims that the students had no right to disrupt the event, charging them with conspiracy to shut down the ambassador’s speech, even though he was able to complete the speech. Supporters claim that the Muslim students’ actions are protected by the first Amendment, and that are being charged for being vocal critics of Israel.
Defense attorneys claim that the District Attorney has acted irregularly, first by using an investigative grand jury to look into felony charges, even though the students were charged with two misdemeanors. Second, in the course of the investigation prosecutors obtained vast personal electronic records from Google and Hotmail; they then released some of these documents to the media in what appears to be an attempt to influence public opinion against the 11 students.
Attorney Daniel Mayfield:
- As far as disruptions go it was about the most peaceful you could imagine. Michael Oren is invited to speak on campus, it is a hybrid event. Partially sponsored by off campus organizations and off campus organizations.
- When Mr Oren begins to speak say for a minute or two, the first of the 11 defendants stands up to interrupt him to make a statement about Gaza.
- That person then walks to the edge of the auditorium and submits to an arrest and is removed from the auditorium.
- There are roughly five law enforcement groups present. Campus police, Irvine police, county sherrifs, secret service agents, Israeli agents.
- There’s a lot jeering and clapping on both sides. This happens 11 times.
- After the 11th student stands up, all of the students that are opposed to Mr Oren stand up, start a chant and they leave. Mr Oren then finishes his speech.
- The students are disciplined, the Muslim Student Association at Irvine is ordered off campus for 6 months. By June 2010, everyone thinks the case is over.
- In December of 2010, the District Attorney of Orange County, they convene a Grand Jury.
- Under California law you can only convene a Grand Jury when investigating a felony. They claim they’re investigating a felony. In the affidavits to the judge they swear under penalty of perjury that they’re investigating a felony.
- They call witnesses to this Grand Jury, when they’re challenged, they tell the judge they’re investigating a felony. Then the Grand Jury doesn’t issue an indictment.
- An investigative Grand Jury, not that different from what’s happened in Chicago.
- So the DA has amassed, all of this material, they’ve gotten phone records and email messages.
- They asked Google, Hotmail, Gmail, all of those to turn over the emails and they do. Thousands and thousands of emails, 10 CDs.
- I don’t believe the District Attorney is going to drop these charges. They’ve dumped roughly half a million dollars into this case.
- At this point they’ve assigned 3 deputy attorneys, including 2 of their primary homicide DAs. Pulled off of homicide to work on 2 misdemeanors.
- Our goal is to win this case on motions. Because that meeting was political because poltiical meetings are excluding from the penal code section that we’re interested in here.
- We believe that we can win this case, by arguing on the law before the judge, that they don’t have the right to proceed. The speech by Michael Oren was thought of as a response to the organizing around the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions work.
Guest – Attorney Daniel Mayfield, one of the attorneys on the legal defense team and co-author of the motion and a National Lawyers Guild member.
The boycott, divest, sanction movement was launched in 2005. It calls upon conscientious citizens of the world to shoulder the load of responsibility of holding Israel accountable to international law and principles of human rights. The BDS movement urges those citizens to support 3 basic rights. UN sanctioned rights of the Palestinian people, ending the 1967 occupation, and ending the system of racial discrimination in Israel, the right of return of refugees in accordance with UN resolution 194.
In boycotting, corporations and countries around the world are urges to stop buying products that support Israeli infrastructure such as Loreal, Motorola, Caterpillar, and many more. Sanctions, would target those companies exporting to Israel and applying tariffs or trade barriers. Divest or disinvestment, a call to divest from companies, institutions and universities that support Israel’s occupation and lobby power. Co-host Michael Ratner interviewed independent Palestinian commentator and human rights activist Omar Barghouti in the middle of his book tour.
- The BDS movement was launched in 2005 which calls upon conscientious citizens of the world to shoulder the load of responsibility of holding Israel accountable to international law and principles of human rights.
- The BDS call urges to support 3 basic rights. UN sanctioned rights of the Palestinian people, ending the 1967 occupation, ending the system of racial discrimination in Israel, the right of return of refugees in accordance with UN resolution 194.
- 80 percent of Gazans are refugees. According to International law, they have the right to go back home.
- We look around and look at how International law is being applied in other situations.
- Jewish communities are reclaiming properties stolen by the Nazis or by their collaborators all over Europe.
- Only when it comes to Palestinian refugee rights does it become a demographic threat to Israel.
- There’s some divine right given to Israel to maintain an ethno-centric state, at the expense of applying International law.
- Palestinians of Israel are not considered nationals of Israel. Israel is the only country on Earth that has this two tiered system of nationality. You’re only a national if you’re Jewish.
- Any Jewish person from New York can go tomorrow and can become a national immediately.
- Palestinians in Israel, citizens of Israel, can’t buy, rent or live on about 93 percent of the land.
- Israel’s discrimination acts like a set of sieves, that have finer and finer holes as you move up towards college, filtering out more Palestinians so you have a very small percentage on top.
- Because Palestinians can vote becomes a form of tokenism, when you discrimination in land, jobs, everything.
- Israel is losing the veneer of sophistication and nuance. It’s becoming a brute form of apartheid.
- Loyalty Oath.
- Israel has lost the battle for hearts and minds and its resorting to bigger sticks.
- BDS, in less than six years we’ve achieved more than our comrades in South Africa that lasted 20 years.
- In a study of Israeli academics who had stood up against the occupation: hundreds of academics in a community of 9 thousand have done anything public against the occupation. BDS is not a political party, its not an ideology.
- Those who think they can decide for the Palestinians what our basic rights are, ignoring International law and basic principles of human rights, are racist. BDS is a living movement that is growing tremendously.
Guest – Omar Barghouti, the founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and the Palestinian Civil Society Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.