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Students stage walkout protest of Oren’s GW speech

JTA

May 1, 2012 | 12:56 pm

Ambassador of Israel to the United States Michael B. Oren in Washington on April 19. Photo by REUTERS/Benjamin Myers

Ambassador of Israel to the United States Michael B. Oren in Washington on April 19. Photo by REUTERS/Benjamin Myers

A group of protesting students silently walked out of a speech by Israel’s U.S. ambassador, Michael Oren, at George Washington University.

Near the beginning of the speech Monday night in Washington, more than a dozen students walked out of the room, with one holding a sign that read “Oren supports Colonialism.” Some audience members applauded lightly while Oren continued with his presentation.

According to GW Hillel Executive Director Rabbi Yoni Kaiser-Blueth, Oren asked the students to stay and participate in dialogue, but they formed a small protest outside the event. Kaiser-Blueth said the protest did not disrupt the event and told JTA that it was a “wonderful evening.”

While no student group has identified itself with the protest, GW does host a chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. A Muslim Students’ Association also exists at the university; Kaiser-Blueth said Hillel has strong, friendly relations with the group.

Students have protested Oren’s speeches at several campuses, most notably in February 2010, when 11 Muslim students at the University of California, Irvine, shouted slogans at Oren and walked out. Ten of the students were found guilty of misdemeanors for disrupting the speech and were sentenced to community service and three years of probation.

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