A Jewish advocacy group says its members should also face criminal charges in light of Orange County prosecutors' decision last week to charge 11 Muslim student protesters with conspiracy to disrupt the Israeli ambassador to the United States' speech at UC Irvine last year.
Organizers for Jewish Voice for Peace said they plan to hand-deliver petitions Wednesday to the Orange County district attorney's office containing the signatures of 5,000 supporters admitting that they too had committed the crime of interrupting a speaker or event to make a political point. They also will deliver a letter from more than a dozen rabbis from across the country condemning the prosecution of the Muslim students.
"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 Oakland-based group said Monday in a news release. "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."
Prosecutors on Friday charged 11 members of the Muslim Student Union — eight students from UC Irvine and three from UC Riverside — with conspiring to disrupt the Feb. 8, 2010, speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren in what Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas called an "organized attempt to squelch the speaker."