After months of growing tension between Jewish and Muslim students at the University of California, Irvine, the Zionist Organization of America is asking potential students to apply elsewhere and donors to stop sending contributions.
The organization lambasted Chancellor Michael Drake in a statement Tuesday for not condemning anti-Semitic speech on campus and enabling years of “bigotry, discrimination and the violation of civil rights” by the school’s Muslim Student Union.
Drake and the school had no comment on the statement, spokeswoman Cathy Lawhon said.
Tension around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has spilled onto campus at several other universities as well.
Pro-Palestinian students have disrupted speeches by prominent Israeli speakers at England’s Oxford University, the University of Chicago and the University of California, Los Angeles.
A talk by a group called J Street, which backs a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, also stirred a backlash at the University of Pennsylvania last month.
But emotions reached a fever pitch at UC Irvine earlier this month when 11 students were arrested by campus police for repeatedly interrupting a talk by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren.
The Muslim Student Union had issued an e-mail condemning Oren’s appearance but said it did not organize the protest.
In a Monday editorial in the campus newspaper, Hadeer Soliman, a Muslim Student Union spokeswoman, defended the arrested students’ rights to protest and called Oren the “official representative of a state that engages in war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
“If the university chooses to selectively enforce its policies in order to punish these students, it is undoubtedly sending a political message and chilling all students’ First Amendment rights,” she wrote.
The students arrested earlier this month face disciplinary action that could range from a warning to expulsion, Lawhon said.
The Orange County district attorney’s office will decide whether to press criminal charges when it receives arrest reports from the university police, said district attorney spokeswoman Susan Schroeder.
The Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Council of American-Islamic Relations have condemned the arrests.