Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Hillel and Jewish Federation of OC Issue Third Statement on Last Week's Disruption

The Orange County Jewish Federation and Orange County Hillel have issued yet another statement on the ugly disruption of a Jewish event on the UCI campus last week by Students for Justice in Palestine and other student groups. In contrast to their second statement, which made it sound like it was just a routine protest handled efficiently and quietly by campus police, this one acknowledges that there was intimidation and violation of the free speech rights of the Students Supporting Israel. It acknowledges that there was an "aggressive, screaming mob" attempting to force its way into the room of Jewish students.

"Hillel Foundation of Orange County, which operates Hillel at UCI, along with the Rose Project of Jewish Federation & Family Services, condemn in the strongest terms the verbal and physical harassment and intimidation of Jewish students, and the assault on their First Amendment right to assemble by the UCI chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace and their supporters. We state clearly and unequivocally that we support the right of all students to exercise their First Amendment rights, but no student or student organization has the right to  infringe on the rights of others or to instill feelings of insecurity, anxiety or fear.  The attempt that night by an aggressive, screaming mob to force its way into a room of Jewish students, and the pursuit of a Jewish student that forced her to hide in the dark in terror, are unconscionable acts that have no place on a university campus or in American society."

That is quite a contrast from their second missive. In that statement, they took issue with the article that Campus Reform posted based on eyewitness statements. The below link has that statement plus the first statement the OC Federation and Hillel  issued.

"There are several critical inaccuracies in the Campus Reform (CR) account of what happened at UC Irvine on the evening of Wednesday, May 18 when a group of protesters demonstrated outside an event sponsored by the student organization Students Supporting Israel (SSI).

The Students Supporting Israel event was not, as the Campus Reform article implies, shut down. According to eyewitnesses, including local Hillel professionals, the Jewish students were not in any way forced to retreat. When the police arrived, they ensured the SSI program could continue. One officer remained in the classroom with the students until the film was over and they concluded their program. 
The protestors were allowed to remain outside of the building.

When the SSI students were ready to leave, the officers moved the protestors to an area sufficiently distant from the exit, so that neither group was visible to one another. The police then escorted the SSI students to their cars and an Assistant Vice Chancellor stayed to assist the students. 

Hillel is working with the university police and administration to ensure this incident is appropriately resolved." 

And just what were those "several critical inaccuracies"? The only one that is mentioned is that CR "implied" that the event was shut down and could not be completed. Here is the CR report.

"A spokesperson for Hillel International, which had a representative on hand at the event, elaborated on the officers' involvement, saying that while the protest was allowed to continue outside the venue, one officer was stationed inside to ensure that the SSI students could complete their program without interference." (emphasis mine)

So where are the critical inaccuracies in the CR article?

Here is what I think has occurred. Hillel at UCI and the OC Jewish Federation, along with their money arm, the Rose Project, have a long history of being in bed with the university and downplaying any act of anti-Semitism at UCI, which has been documented on this site for years. In my opinion, they have a conflict of interest in that if Jewish students decide not to attend UCI because of its perceived reputation for anti-Semitism (thanks to the Muslim Student Union and Students for Justice in Palestine) then they (Federation/Hillel) have no reason for being involved on campus.

So now we have the spectacle of these Jewish organizations tripping over themselves to amend previous statements. As they say in all of their statements, they are working hand in hand with UCI. Of course they are like fleas on the back of a rhino.

Here is another thought: When they came out with their second statement, which was a call to the community that "all is well", they were contradicted and called on it not only by this site, but by others, including the Orange County Independent Task Force on Anti-Semitism.

For years, these two organizations have worked to obstruct our efforts to inform the local Jewish community of the problems at UCI.  I am not prepared to make any accusations at this point, but we are watching closely. If it comes out that they are trying to sweep this latest outrage under the rug, we and others will report it. The reaction to their second statement may have convinced them that it would not be a good idea. 

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