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Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren came to UC Irvine for a speech before students, and others. As far as I know, this event was open to the general public, besides the university teachers and students.
Immediately after starting his speech, Oren was interrupted by a group of Arabs, shouting non-stop. I wonder if he must have carried this speech in that very place, and not in another one.
Ambassadors and other VIPs don’t go from one place to another, from one university to another, to speak to all the people everywhere. They have no time for all the specific audiences, and public speeches like that are not aimed just for the immediate audience, but more to the mass media (“In a speech before … President/Ambassador/Mr. … said …”).
When the time allotted to public appearances is limited, one must make “cynical” calculations of “cost (in time)/benefit”, and the question is whether the ambassador (and his advisers, of course) had made the right considerations.
The behavior of the Arab audience (and supporters, if there were such) was truly impolite and uncivilized, and too much time was spent by Ambassador Oren and his hosts to defend the guest’s freedom of speech, and to threaten the obstructors that they were apt to face disciplinary measures, which may amount to “suspension or dismissal from the university”.
Oren’s remark about the “mid-eastern hospitality”, whose customs were not observed by the mid-eastern part of the audience was true-but-pathetic, and his saying that “it’s not London, it’s not Jerusalem, but also not Teheran” was a last-resort outlet, and a last-resort is always a last-resort.
The need for a massive intervention of the security persons of the university was not a great honour neither to the guest nor to the hosts, and the question is whether this episode should have happened.
The audience was, in fact, divided into two distinct audiences: those who were “already convinced”, and came just “because they were invited”, and those who had no intention to listen and be convinced, so what is the point in appearing before such an audience?
Was it a surprise?
The young lady – supposedly a student – who presented the ambassador opened her words saying that “it is no secret that UC Irvine is a hot-spot when it comes to Israel”, but added that “this is why we are so proud to have His Excellency, Ambassador Oren here with us tonight”.
And that is exactly why there is no reason for pride for calling and holding this event, the homework for which was not properly done.
Both the UCI authorities and the Israeli security services (Mossad, Shabbak etc.) should have anticipated what was about to occur. They are paid for it, and as far as it can be understood (even from hints by Oren himself) there was no surprise in that evening.
The lion’s mouth
Why did they organize this “happening”, knowing what they were going to get “out of the oven”? Why did they enter the lion’s mouth so easily, while they could spend that precious time in a better venue, and get better results?
Isn’t it the Israeli arrogance which had lead Israel from the glorious victory of the Six Day War (1967) to the most painful catastrophe of the Yom Kippur War (1973)?
The “smokh” culture
The Hebrew word smokh has nothing to do with the Yiddish word shmok.
Smokh is the imperative of “trust”, “rely”. Is something apt to go wrong? Don’t worry, rely on God, rely on me, rely on some supreme supervision, rely on mere luck, don’t think twice, it’s all right … smokh!!!
Israeli brain-drain fills many ponds of wisdom all over the world, but sometimes … you know … we, Israelis, don’t do enough homework. We are caught with our pants down.
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