Thursday, May 26, 2016

UC Irvine Response to AMCHA Letter

The Orange County Register today is running an article about the letter  sent to UCI by the AMCHA Initiative in the wake of last Wednesday's disruption of a Jewish event by Students for Justice in Palestine.

"UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman responded that the university is taking the May 18 incident “very seriously.” But the characterization of pervasive anti-Semitism on campus is wrong, he said."
“We are consistently praised for our efforts at creating an outstanding environment for our Jewish students,” Gillman said. “Our Jewish students have become so frustrated by the false and malicious characterizations of their experiences on our campus that they have posted their own YouTube video to try to correct the record.”
That video which is linked above was produced by the Rose Project and their parent organization, the Jewish Federation of Orange County, which has always been embedded within the university and has always taken the public position that, in their own words, "Jewish life is thriving at UCI." However, they have historically tried to downplay the problems of anti-Semitism. It is hardly surprising that UCI would respond with a video produced by the Federation/Rose Project. Similarly, UCI has responded to an avalanche of letters since the disruption by linking the (2nd) statement of Hillel/Jewish Federation about the incident (which was roundly criticized for downplaying the disruption) in their (UCI's) standard response letter. It is another example of the unhealthy relationship between the university and the Jewish Federation and Hillel.
In a sense, Gillman is correct when he says anti-Semitism is not pervasive on the UCI campus. As I have always said, 99% of UCI's students have nothing to do with this. There are long stretches of time when all is well and quiet. But because of the Israel-Palestine conflict, which has been orchestrated into such a hot button topic on all the UC campuses, sooner or later, something happens-usually when anti-Israel speakers come during the annual May "hate week" or when an Israeli or pro-Israeli speaker comes as happened last week. Jewish life was not thriving at UCI last Wednesday night, and these incidents have gone on too long on too many UC campuses (as well as other campuses across the nation).

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