Lessons from America


By mattpryor
February 9, 2011
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Following the shameful behaviour of the SPSC towards Ismail Khaldi I thought this was worth mentioning. Last February, you may recall, Israel's ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, was subjected to similar abuse when he was invited to give a talk at the University of California in Irvine.

Well I've just learned via Israel Matzav that California's district attorney has charged eleven of the protesters with a charge of "conspiracy to disrupt a lawful assembly". Here is an exert from the LA Times article:

The Orange County district attorney’s office on Friday charged 11 defendants with conspiring to disrupt a meeting and a speech by the Israeli ambassador to the United States at UC Irvine last year.

The move comes after about 50 protesters rallied in front of the Orange County district attorney’s office Tuesday. Though some have criticized the students’ method of protest, many said that university punishment was sufficient enough for the “Irvine 11,” as the students came to be known.

In a statement, Orange County Dist. Atty.Tony Rackauckas said the case was filed because of an “organized attempted to squelch the speaker.” He also said the students “meant to stop this speech and stop anyone else from hearing his ideas, and they did so by disrupting a lawful meeting.”

“We must decide whether we are a country of laws or a country of anarchy,” he said. “We cannot tolerate a pre-planned violation of the law, even if the crime takes place on a school campus and even if the defendants are college students. In our democratic society, we cannot tolerate a deliberate, organized, repetitive and collective effort to significantly disrupt a speaker who hundreds assembled to hear.”

...

The students are accused of meeting with other members of the Muslim Student Union to discuss options to respond to the speech as far out as six days before the event.

According to prosecutors, students circulated e-mails and held multiple meetings to plan the disruption of the speech. One of the students is accused of sending an e-mail to the MSU-UCI message board announcing that “we will be staging a University of Chicago Style disruption of the Ambassador’s speech.”

Approximately 500 to 700 people had assembled for the meeting, authorities say.

Eight of the defendants are students at UC Irvine and the other three were students at UC Riverside. Each is charged with one misdemeanor count of conspiracy to disturb a meeting and one misdemeanor count of the disturbance of the meeting. If convicted, they could be fined and/or sentenced to probation with community service or six months in jail.

LA Times link

Do similar laws apply in the UK, and if so how can we use them to prevent this sort of thing happening again?

COMMENTS

Joe Millis

Wed, 02/09/2011 - 11:52

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-1 points

Not sure we have laws that could lead to charges over conspiracy to disturb a meeting and disturbance of the meeting. I believe the closest we have to these laws are causing affray or conspiracy to cause affray.


jose (not verified)

Wed, 02/09/2011 - 12:25

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3 points

Great news, Matt! Let's hope it works in USA and the obnoxious Irvine 11 get at least a fine for what they did.
We see that these antisemites ask first for their freedom of speech, then try use it to silence those who don't agree with them. This slippery slope is very dangerous.


amber

Wed, 02/09/2011 - 12:52

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0 points

Great news! Many Americans still have a sense of right and wrong, a trait largely gone from morally confused Europe.


mattpryor

Wed, 02/09/2011 - 13:07

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America is just as morally confused Amber - in fact I think the anti-Semitic / anti-Israel sentiments are even stronger and even more militant over there. A lot of the worst comments on Huffpost / Telegraph / Guardian etc come from the US.


zair (not verified)

Wed, 02/09/2011 - 14:32

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-2 points

'get at least a fine for what they did'

no doubt you would prefer the maximum sentence, or maybe you could campaign for the death penalty jose.


Harvey

Wed, 02/09/2011 - 15:07

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2 points

Death Penalty Zair ?

Maybe in Iran but not the US . It would appear that Geography in addition to politics is not your strong suit.


jose (not verified)

Wed, 02/09/2011 - 15:34

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0 points

no doubt you would prefer the maximum sentence, or maybe you could campaign for the death penalty jose.

I prefer a jail sentence, but knowing how these people are money-centered, a fine will be just right.
Death sentence is for brutal regimes like those of the people you support: PA, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, Iran, Pakistan, etc.


jose (not verified)

Wed, 02/09/2011 - 15:34

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1 point

Hater zair is again spewing his hatemongering.


amber

Wed, 02/09/2011 - 16:48

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1 point

That's true Matt, although considering the US has 5 times the population of the UK, it is hardly surprising. However, poll after poll has shown overwhelming support for Israel (usually about two thirds, bearing in mind that a fair chunk of the remaining third are "don't knows" - quite a different picture from Europe.


amber

Wed, 02/09/2011 - 16:49

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1 point

zair you are a disgrace.


mattpryor

Wed, 02/09/2011 - 16:58

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Amber: I've never seen a poll for general British support for Israel. It would be very interesting.


amber

Thu, 02/10/2011 - 00:23

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1 point

Matt, I think the Pew Research Centre has done some surveys in larger European countries. Can't remember the details offhand, but remember the results weren't good.

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