written with Will
This past February students in the Muslim Student Union (MSU) at UC Irvine deliberately disrupted a talk by Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the US, as he attempted to justify the Israeli assault on Gaza in 2008/2009.
The 11 students who disrupted Oren by shouting him down were arrested. Afterwards, Muslim students and other Palestine solidarity activists attending the event walked out and held a protest outside.
Recently, Lisa Cornish, the Senior Executive Director of Student Housing, and other university officials at UC Irvine have recommended the 1-year suspension of the MSU. In addition, MSU members must complete 50 hours of community, no MSU officers will be allowed to be an “authorized signer” for any other student groups, and if the MSU is allowed to re-register for official status in 2011, it will be placed under a one-year probation.
There is currently a debate over at Kabobfest where some in the Muslim community are arguing that the MSU should not have been involved in organizing the disruption. They argue that MSAs and MSUs have no business taking leadership in this struggle.
One argument goes that it invites retaliation on the whole Muslim community threatening their religious freedom. The problem with this argument is that it places the sins of white supremacy and empire squarely in the laps of Muslims and solidarity activists who choose to resist. There is a faulty assumption here that the occupations of Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the racist attacks on Muslims in the US are a result of organized resistance on our part. This is completely backwards. Oppression doesn’t result from our resistance; we resist because we are oppressed.