Sunday, July 17, 2016

Orange County DA Will Not Prosecute in May 18 UCI Disruption

The below article in the Orange County Register reports that the DA will not prosecute those who disrupted a Jewish, pro-Israel film showing at UC Irvine on May 18. The underlying issue of campus anti-Semitism is still alive, however.

Lisa Armony, the local Hillel director, is still insisting there is no problem of anti-Semitism on campus-thanks to the efforts of the UCI administration. For years, this has been a constant refrain of Hillel, at least at the local level, as well as  the Jewish Federation of Orange County.

UCI is very misinterpreted,” said Lisa Armony, executive director of Hillel of Orange County, the local chapter of a Jewish student organization.
“In last few years, we’ve seen a change for the better. Largely because the administration has taken this issue very seriously and has taken steps to promote a more civil climate.”
But wait! Just days ago, Armony signed her name to a joint letter from Hillel's national hqs and the Louis G Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law. Here is the complete text:

Chancellor Howard Gillman 
University of California - Irvine 
510 Aldrich Hall
Irvine, CA 92697-1900 
Dear Chancellor Gillman:
We write on behalf of The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, (LDB), Hillel International, and Hillel of Orange County. LDB is a national public interest advocacy organization dedicated to eradicating anti-Semitism on college campuses. Hillel is committed to supporting Jewish life on campus by helping students create strong connections to Jewish life, learning and Israel.
We are writing to you six weeks after we each initially shared with you our deep concern for the safety and overall climate faced by Jewish and pro-Israel students at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) including one specific student, Eliana Kopley, who was physically intimidated, chased, and hounded by student protesters on the UCI campus. LDB represents the interests of Eliana Kopley with respect to this matter.

As you know, on May 18 Eliana and a small group of other students, most of whom are Jewish, gathered in a classroom to watch and discuss the film Beneath the Helmet.
Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) gathered more than 50 anti-Israel protestors who aggressively protested the screening event and prevented the post-movie discussion from taking place. The protestors yelled anti-Israel and anti-Semitic chants and attempted to enter the event venue. The frightened students inside had to hold the classroom door closed while an advisor called the police.
Eliana, who had briefly stepped out of the classroom to call her mother, was refused re-entry while the mob yelled "if we can't go in, you can't go in." The protesters physically blocked Eliana from the door, yelled at, and hounded her as she tried to get away. The protestors were so emboldened that they chased Eliana into a building where she came across a woman who helped her hide in an unlocked room. Eliana hid in terror, crying on her cell phone to her mother who called the police while the protestors searched for Eliana.
As you will recall, the other Jewish and pro-Israel students had to be escorted out by four UCIPD officers, while five additional officers moved the protesters away from the building. 
We are committed to freedom of expression for all students, including the right to reasonably protest. However, the conduct of these protesting students was outrageous and crossed far beyond the bounds of any First Amendment protection or reasonable manner of protest.
We remain concerned that what happened to Eliana and her peers was motivated by anti-Semitic bias. The only characteristic the perpetrators knew about Eliana was that she identified with the group of primarily Jewish students watching Beneath the Helmet.
We applaud the encouraging statements you made immediately following the incident. We urge the university to now move swiftly to identify the students that terrorized Eliana and threatened, harassed and intimidated the other Jewish and pro-Israel students. We urge you to take strong action to ensure enforcement of UCI policy, the University of California's Principles Against Intolerance, the University of California Code of Conduct, and the California Penal Code. 
We all share a desire for the UCI campus climate to be free from intimidation and harassment of all students, including Jewish students. And our organizations stand ready to partner with you to facilitate the process, ensure Eliana's and other students' physical safety and mental well-being, and focus attention on repairing the campus atmosphere to foster more inclusiveness, civility and safety.
We look forward to a swift and thorough investigation by your administration. Thank you.
Hillel International:
Eric Fingerhut
President & CEO
Tracy Turoff
VP & General Counsel 
Hillel Orange County:
Lisa Armony 
Executive Director
The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law:
Kenneth L. Marcus 
President & General Counsel
Jennie Gross
Senior Staff Attorney 
Dr. Thomas A. Parham
Vice Chancellor, Student Affairs, UCI 
Michael R. Arias
Associate Chancellor and Chief of Staff, UCI 
Edgar Dormitorio
Chief of Staff, Student Affairs, UCI
Director, Student Affairs Communications, UCI 
Rameen Talesh, Ed.D.
Dean of Students & Assistant Vice Chancellor, Student Life & Leadership, UCI

Kenneth L. Marcus
President & General Counsel
The Louis D. Brandeis Center
   for Human Rights Under Law
1717 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 1025
Washington, DC 20006 


So which is it, Lisa?

What is the change for the better? That Malik Ali hasn't been on campus for the past 4 years? Others sure have. If things are better, how did the May 18 incident happen? If things are better, why have the past two I-Fests been disrupted-using the Cross Cultural Center as a staging area no less, just as with the May 18 disruption.

It is true that for most of the year, things are peaceful at UCI, and as I have always said, 99% of the students at UCI have nothing to do with anti-Semitism. The problem is that when incidents like these happen, as they often have over the years, the university takes no action. Why should they as long as they have OC Hillel and the OC Jewish Federation covering for them? 

1 comment:

Squid said...

What Lisa Armony has said about UCI and no anti-Semitism exists is baffling. I have seen anti-Semitism at UCI as will as many others. The MSU is a Muslim Brotherhood group, that be believes in anti-Semitism clothed in anti-Zionism and anti-Israel campaigns at UCI. Lisa needs to open her eyes. Yet the Hillel organization has close their yes to the UCI problem of anti-Semitism.