The J Street U Student Board released the following statement regarding recent incidents at the University of California, Irvine and Oxford University:
J Street U is deeply concerned about recent incidents on college campuses aimed at obstructing civil and open debate around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We believe that universities should be a place for an honest discussion about tough issues. While appropriate and respectful protests are a legitimate and important part of the conversation on campus, anti-Semitic, racist, disruptive and inflammatory actions and language are simply unacceptable. In particular, we were profoundly offended by the anti-Semitic rhetoric used by a student to attack Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon during a recent talk at Oxford University. We were also deeply disappointed to hear about attempts to interrupt Ambassador Michael Oren’s remarks at the University of California, Irvine, with heckling aimed at drowning out the Ambassador’s speech. Incidents such as these only contribute to an atmosphere of hostility and tension, while making open dialogue and constructive debate harder to achieve. Universities are a place for exploration and learning. Students should have an opportunity to hear from a variety of perspectives and arrive at their own conclusions. J Street U calls on all students – from across the political spectrum – to engage in a civil conversation about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Only through such a debate will both sides move forward, toward the understanding and reconciliation we so desperately need on campus and in our broader communities.