Ambassador Michael Oren
Israeli Embassy
3514 International Drive, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008

Dear Ambassador Orren:

We are grateful for your taking time from your busy schedule to visit UCI this past academic quarter.  UCI’s Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD), a research unit  involving faculty from political science, sociology and economics, was very  pleased to be asked to be an academic co-sponsor of your talk.  At the Center for the Study of Democracy we’re proud to sponsor and cosponsor talks by policymakers, academics, and activists representing a wide range of views. 

Your audience was clearly engaged by your talk and the issues you raised.  We appreciate your generosity in sharing the views of the Israeli government, and your own perspectives, with our students and faculty and the broader Orange County community.

We regret, however, that a few students chose disruption over engagement, and that the disruption has gotten far more attention than anything you said.  We apologize that the tempest at the event temporarily overshadowed the much more important issues that your talk addressed. As scholars concerned with democracy, we believe it is critical to question—and listen to—people with whom you have even the most substantial differences.  Sitting down and talking with opponents is always preferable to trying to silence them.

Our colleague, Chair of the Political Science Department Mark Petracca, is also a member of the Center for the Study of Democracy. We share his views about the standards for open academic discourse and we very much appreciate the way he forthrightly expressed those views during your talk. In CSD we’ll continue to work on teaching about democracy, and we hope that the next time you (or other Israeli officials) visit UCI, the time that should be available for dialogue and a question and answer period will not be lost due to student disruptions. Again, thanks for coming to the UCI campus.

Sincerely yours

Bernard Grofman
Director, Center for the Study of Democracy
Jack W. Peltason Chair of Political Science

David  S. Meyer
Associate Director, Center for the Study of Democracy
Professor of Sociology

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