Muslim Students Face Prosecution for Heckling Israeli Ambassador

By Harmony Daws
20 Sep 10

Closing arguments are made today in the prosecution of ten Muslim students who heckled Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren in 2010. The students face charges of misdemeanor, conspiracy to disrupt a meeting and disturbing a meeting. They could face six months to a year in jail for what their defense attorneys describe as normal student activism which they said lasted five minutes. The students shouted at Israeli ambassador Michael Oren soon after he began speaking, consecutively drowning him out until each were removed, without resistance, from the meeting place.
The Muslim Student Union explained the reasons for its disruption:

Oren personally participated in the Israeli Defense Force in wars that took place in Lebanon and Palestine. Oren took part in a culture that has no qualms with terrorizing the innocent, killing civilians, demolishing their homes, and illegally occupying their land. Oren is an outspoken supporter of the recent war on Gaza and stands in the way of international law by refusing to cooperate with the United Nation’s Goldstone Report a fact-finding mission endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council… Propagating murder is not a responsible expression of free speech. Oren and his partners should only be granted a speakers platform in the International Criminal Court and should not be honored on our campus.

After their outbursts, the students were disciplined by the university; their group was banned from on-campus activities for a year. Criminal charges were not pressed until a full year later, when Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas filed them.
The belated prosecution of these ten Muslim students is clearly the outcome of influence by the Anti-Defamation League’s hate crimes ideology on Rackauckas. In February the DA gave an exclusive interview to Jewish bully group the Simon Wiesenthal Center about the events. He told the Center it is “silly” to think his prosecution could chill free speech on campus. He said the Muslim students would have done better to “silently hand out leaflets, protest outside, protest with signs, ask pointed questions during the allotted time, hand out leaflets.” Yet if they were at all familiar with Rackauckas they would have known that this too could be a bad idea. His webpage encourages citizens to be aware of “hate incidents,” which he defines as:

any action that is motivated by bias but does not constitute any crime. Some common examples of hate incidents: the distribution of non-threatening racist flyers in public, the display of non-threatening anti-gay or lesbian placards at a parade, or a letter ridiculing people with disabilities. Documented hate incidents can possibly be used to show motivation that a person goes on to commit a hate crime. (emphasis mine)

Rackauckas has clearly been a very good student of the Anti-Defamation League. And he is proud of it. In December 2010, he praised ADL as an official representative of Orange County law enforcement. Rackauckas believes hate crimes deserve “specialized prosecution” from a “Special Prosecutions Unit.” What more could ADL ask?
A defense attorney for the Muslim students told FOX News’ Megyn Kelly today that if the meeting had been held for the Taliban and American students patriotically sought to silence them, they would not have been prosecuted. These charges do appear content-specific, nevertheless we believe in the legal rights of groups in a civil society to have undisrupted meetings. The disruption may have been the reason Oren’s question and answer session was missed, perhaps a time when more coherent challenges could have been made.
The real story behind the story is that the Orange County DA is acting as a de facto representative of ADL and, even more sinister, collecting data on actions that aren’t even illegal but are motivated by “hate.” How long will it take before “hate incidents” themselves, even “silently passing out leaflets” as Rackauckas recommended, can land you before a judge and jury?


Harmony Daws is a writer for National Prayer Network. To greater understand the illogic behind hate laws, read her article “Top Eleven Reasons You Should Fight Hate Laws.”

Rev. Ted Pike is director of the National Prayer Network, a Christian/conservative watchdog organization.

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