Why Does the MSU at UC Irvine Call Michael Oren a War Criminal?

Michael Oren
Israeli ambassador to the US

In February of 2010, the Israeli ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, came to speak to a largely Jewish audience at UC Irvine. The UCI's Muslim Student Union, an organization that has brought a bad reputation to UCI for a decade, was also there. They did not come to listen, however. They came to disrupt. When it was over, UCI was once again in the international spotlight.

During the recent week of anti-Israel diatribes at UC Irvine hosted by the Muslim Student Union, I twice had the opportunity to ask four members of the so-called "Irvine 11" why they could not extend the same right of free speech to their opponents that they were enjoying themselves. One of the reasons given was that the Israeli ambassador (Michael Oren) whom they had disrupted at UC Irvine in 2010, was "nothing less than a war criminal".


Michael Oren, who is the current Israeli ambassador to the US, was actually born in the US to a Jewish family, but later emigrated to Israel, where he served with the Israeli Defense Forces. His bio is here on Wikipedia.

So Oren served in a theater of combat with the IDF (Lebanon). Does that make him a war criminal? Not in my eyes, but to the one-sided view of Israel's enemies and the MSU, it seems just the mere fact that Oren served with the IDF in combat against the terrorists (and those always charming Syrians) who are trying to destroy Israel makes him a war criminal. You know the line; genocide against the Palestinians (whose population keeps exploding notwithstanding the "genocide"), apartheid, etc.

This is not to say that some soldiers never commit war crimes. They do, but a decent nation (like Israel) has a system of justice to deal with those things-something that Hamas, Hezbollah and all the rest lack.

So what specific action did Oren commit that makes him a "war criminal"? It is true that during the Israeli incursion into Lebanon, the infamous massacres at the Shatila and Sabra refugee camps took place committed by Lebanese Phalangists in 1982. Israel was accused of allowing the massacre to take place since the area was under their occupation. Even if that is true, does that make Oren or every IDF soldier in Lebanon at that time a war criminal? Oren was also a media relations officer for the IDF during the 2006 war against Hezbollah and the 2008-09 fighting in Gaza. That and his current position as ambassador, make him a "war criminal" since he defends Israel's "war crimes".

According to the MSU.

I also take note that these reckless accusations are being thrown around by young men who have never served their country in uniform. What do they know of these things? Not even I would be so careless to throw that charge around although I have served the US Army in uniform-but not in a combat theater. I would be very cautious in calling someone a war criminal.

But to the former UCI students and MSU members, caution or facts mean nothing. Oren served in combat against Israel's enemies, gave the media Israel's version of the conflicts in 2006 and 2008-09, and now serves as Israel's ambassador. Thus, he is a "war criminal".

But who are the war criminals involved in the 2006 abduction, torture and murder of two Israeli border guards in 2006-which led to the fighting?

Who are the war criminals who send missiles from Gaza into Southern Israel, which sparked the 2008-09 Gaza conflict?

Who are the war criminals who snuck into the Fogel family home in Itimar and massacred an entire family including three children? Who are the war criminals who danced in the streets and passed out sweets in honor of the so-called "soldiers" who committed that horrific act? Apparently, slitting the throat of a months-old infant as it sleeps in its crib is not a war crime-it is an act of "heroic resistance", just as sending men and women into buses and pizza parlors to blow themselves up is not a war crime, but an act of "heroic resistance". Shooting rockets into Israeli schoolyards is not a war crime. It is "heroic resistance".

This past month, four arrogant young men told an audience that if the Israeli ambassador came back to speak at UCI, they would be there to disrupt him again.....because he is "war criminal". They spoke without disruption, but could not face the fact that they had denied that courtesy-that right- to the Israeli ambassador.

I suggest these four young men and the other seven who took part in that disgraceful disruption that gave UCI such a bad name take a few years off and serve their own country in uniform, as Oren did. It would be an education for them.

One they never got at UCI.

Gary Fouse

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