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July 5, 2015 / 18 Tammuz, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘UCLA’

27 Yr-Old Oleh Fulfills Father’s Dying Wish, Reports to IDF

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

Uzi Hangadi, 27, made Aliyah this past week from San Diego, CA, following a promise he made to his father, before he died of cancer. The promise was to continue what he started in the US, and to devote his entire life to the struggle to improve Israel’s image in the world. With the help of Nefesh B’Nefesh, in cooperation with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and JNF USA, Uzi fulfilled his promise and went to the IDF recruitment office yesterday.

When Uzi’s parents divorced, his father returned to Israel and started a new family, while his mother remained with him in Los Angeles. Uzi’s father took advantage of every opportunity to convince Uzi to enlist in the IDF and protect his Jewish homeland, but Uzi knew he could not leave his mother, who was suffering from ALS, on her own.

On the other side of the ocean his father was battling cancer (which was kept a secret from him). When Uzi was 19, his father’s cancer suddenly worsened, and he received a surprising phone call from his uncle to come to Israel as soon as possible in order to say goodbye.

Uzi managed to reach the hospital in time, and was able to assure his father that he will make Aliyah and enlist in the IDF. Hours later, his father lost consciousness and died. A short six months later, Uzi’s mother passed away, leaving him an untimely orphan. He decided then that he would fulfill his promise to his father and realize his dream of moving to Israel, which was in essence his own lifelong dream .

After making Aliyah a few days ago, Uzi reported to the IDF recruitment office and plans to serve in an elite combat unit.

In addition to his difficult personal journey, Uzi experienced a number of anti-Semitic incidents during his studies at UCLA, where he was attacked by pro-Palestinian activists and had his life threatened on Facebook and offline.

Uzi used to conduct lectures and workshops for students and interested US citizens who were less knowledgeable regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict, and as part of the various protests and demonstrations he participated in was subject to countless anti-Semitic acts, curses and threats. He was attacked physically and had personal property destroyed.

He explains that many times he felt his life was in danger, someone was breathing down his back or he was being followed. The more he tried to advocate for Israel, the more he felt the threats growing around him. In Israel, he hopes to continue to dedicate his life to Israel advocacy, first in the army and later on by working to improve Israel’s image in the world.

Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Nefesh B’Nefesh added: “Uzi’s story portrays a moving story of a young man, who despite so many personal challenges, not only chose to fulfill an intimate promise to his father but to also fight for the realization of the Zionist dream, and became an Israeli who is dedicating his life to his people and his country.”

Cops Shot in Ferguson, Missouri: Racism Heating Up America

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

The vicious racism that has simmered so long under America’s polite society is again beginning to rise to the surface. And it’s not confined to one social group by a long shot. But it may – and in fact already has – affected the Jews, as most social issues usually do.

In the wee hours of Thursday morning, just hours after the city’s police chief resigned, two police officers were shot in Ferguson, Missouri, a city of 21,000.

Protests – riots, violence, looting, marches, demonstrations and everything else in between – have continued for 200 days. The unrest began when a grand jury cleared Darren Wilson, a white police officer for shooting Michael Brown, the unarmed black 18-year-old who attacked the officer after stealing cigars from a store and attacking the store’s clerk. Wilson has since resigned.

Thursday’s attack came during a demonstration – the largest yet — in front of the Ferguson police department. Protesters were chanting, “Racist cops have got to go.”

But the shooter was not among the mob, claimed protesters who spoke with CNN, and is still at large.

Meanwhile, demonstrators are now demanding the disbanding of the entire police force and the resignation of the city’s mayor. The judge who oversaw the court system in the city has resigned, the city’s court clerk was fired last week and two police officers have resigned. The city manager is resigning as well.

No Ferguson police officers were involved in covering the protest: Police from surrounding communities were assigned to the Ferguson demonstration when the shooting occurred.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar told CNN that neither officer was from the Ferguson Police Department: one, shot in the shoulder, was a 14-year veteran of the county police force. The second – shot in the face – was a 7-year veteran of the Webster Groves force. Both are listed in serious condition.

“I have said all along that we cannot sustain this forever without problems,” Belmar told media.

“That’s not an indictment on everybody that’s out there, certainly ‘expressing their First Amendment rights.’ But we have seen, in law enforcement, that this is a very, very, very dangerous environment for the officers to work in.”

Just a few days ago, a fraternity house at Oklahoma University was shut down after a video of its members singing an anti-black racist chant went viral on the Internet. The students who led the chant – which implied lynching black people – were expelled.

The University of Texas said this week in a statement that it, too, is now investigating claims that its SAE chapter at Austin had also used the same chant. A number of other chapters nationwide are being investigated as well.

Tensions are rising, as Twitter comments that the chant is not new are being pulled off the Internet, and graffiti is being spray-painted on to the offending former frat house.

For days, the scandal rocked America and each detail was scrupulously televised and massaged by the media.

What has not been reported nationwide, nor has received the same government scolding and concern, is the long-standing issue of rising anti-Semitism on American campuses.

Posters that proclaim the banner “STUDENTS FOR JUSTICE IN PALESTINE” (SJP) show a photo of what appears to be two muscular male college students in black tees and cargo pants, both holding assault rifles and wearing black ski masks, standing with a kneeling younger unidentified student in jeans and a tee shirt between them, hands tied behind his back with a bag over his head. Below the photo is the hashtag, #JewHaters .

A second poster with the same slogans showed a photo of two terrorists riding a motorcycle dragging a victim on his back through the streets, tied to the back of the bike by his feet.

Why Are Student Leaders and Jewish Bruins Under Attack at UCLA?

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

There will always be that one person who does not like you. There will always be that one person who thinks you can do no right. And while you acknowledge your own faults, that one person sees them as far greater than anyone else’s. Implicit in this is the antagonistic relationship between two people, between two differing belief systems, and two differing ways of thought. Unfortunately, this is the situation we have learned to accept when it comes to the relationship between Israeli and Palestinian leaders and pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian groups. On campuses across America, this dynamic is no different.

It seems, however, that during the past year at the University of California, Los Angeles, pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian tensions have reached a climax—partly because there are no longer just two voices fighting against each other, but multiple voices fighting against one. UCLA has seen the mobilization of self-identified minority communities banding together in order to combat the terrors they believe Israel inflicts on the world, and a concerted effort by pro-Palestinian organization to exploit this to their advantage and silence pro-Israel voices on campus.

By going to university, you expect to find yourself, to make friends, and to define beliefs that will guide you for the rest of your life. All of this is happening for me at UCLA, but in a high-pressure situation I could never have anticipated. More than anything else, this was made clear to me during the Undergraduate Students Association Council (USAC) debate over an anti-Israel divestment resolution.

The resolution in question called for divestment from Caterpillar, Cement Roadstone Holdings, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, and Cemex, claiming that all these companies committed human rights violations against the Palestinian people. If passed, the resolution would be purely symbolic, since the Regents of the University of California had already declared that they would not divest from any companies that maintain operations in Israel.

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a pro-Palestinian organization, authored the resolution, which was sponsored by three council members. SJP has long been active on campuses across America and its ideology is well known. Its website states,

As a solidarity organization, we support the Palestinian call for three basic rights, outlined in 2005: The right not to live under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the right to equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, the right for Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland. As a group, we focus on supporting these rights instead of advocating for a particular political solution (such as one or two states).

The issue most pro-Israel students had with the resolution was that it did not allow a dialogue on whether or not Israel committed human rights violations; it assumed Israel’s sole culpability without looking at any event in a historical context. Bruins for Israel (BFI), the primary pro-Israel group on campus, was thus the most vocal organization opposing the resolution.

BFI is an entirely mainstream and moderate group. As outgoing President Miriam Eshaghian has said, “By framing factual current events in a historical context, we give the campus community the tools to comprehend the turmoil…. We advocate for a negotiated two-state solution: A Jewish state of Israel and a Palestinian state…. We stand firmly against any form of delegitimization of Israel as a Jewish state.”

To BFI, the resolution was part of the global anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to delegitimize the Jewish state, and therefore had to be strenuously opposed.

The USAC meeting to vote on the divestment resolution was scheduled for February 25, 2014. For weeks before the deciding USAC meeting, both pro-divestment and anti-divestment groups lobbied individual council members intensely, bombarding them with fact sheets, presentations, explanations of historical context, and, in some cases, friendships that proved to be false and exploitative.

Echoes Of McCarthyism In UCLA Anti-Israel Campaign

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

UCLA has some proud moments in the history of civil liberties.

After World War II, UCLA and the University of California, Berkeley, were hotbeds of opposition to an anti-communist loyalty oath that California tried to impose on academics. Ultimately the professors won in court in 1954.

Sixty years later, a different pressure group purportedly speaking for the “progressive” grassroots wants to impose on UCLA students a loyalty oath of sorts – a pledge foreswearing going on trips to Israel sponsored by certain Jewish organizations.

Issued by five pro-Palestinian groups, the call demanded that candidates for student government take the pledge.

Who would have thought that McCarthyite tactics would be used to target, harass and intimidate pro-Israel students, Jewish and non-Jewish, at UCLA? There are ominous echoes here of both the medieval witch hunts against Jews and Stalin’s show trials.

Leading the charge is Students for Justice in Palestine, which is funded in part by two organizations dedicated to the destruction of Israel, American Muslims for Palestine and Al-Awda.

SJP is using cyberbullying to punish Jewish students in the UCLA student government majority who voted against a recent resolution to divest from and boycott Israel. Jewish students who opposed the resolution reportedly feel uncomfortable even walking on campus because of the hate mail they have received.

Adding insult to injury, SJP has introduced an initiative calling for a judicial board investigation of student council members who have taken trips to Israel sponsored by groups such as the Anti-Defamation League, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and Hasbara Fellowships; the SJP deems the groups have “political agendas that marginalize multiple communities on campus.”

On other campuses across the country, SJP tactics include mock eviction notices against Jewish students, “die-ins,” and promotions of virulently anti-Israel speakers and events.

The SJP initiative demanding that candidates for student government positions sign a pledge not to take certain trips to Israel violates both the UCLA Principles of Community Conduct and the Student Conduct Code against harassment of all kinds.

Unfortunately, what’s happening at UCLA is not an aberration but part of a national trend. Here are examples from a coast-to-coast report compiled by Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a founder of the AMCHA Initiative, a nonprofit group that combats campus anti-Semitism:

  • At UC Davis, a student who expressed concern about anti-Semitic banners displayed at an anti-Israel “occupation” rally was physically assaulted by a protester who screamed in his face, “You are racist and you should die in hell.”
  • At UC Berkeley, a Jewish girl holding an “Israel wants peace” sign was ramrodded with a shopping cart by the head of the local SJP chapter.
  • At San Francisco State University last fall, the General Union of Palestine Students hosted an all-day event where participants could make posters and T-shirts that said, “My heroes have always killed colonizers” – meaning Jews.
  • At Harvard, the Palestine Security Committee frightened Jewish students by placing mock eviction notices on their dormitory rooms.
  • At Northeastern University in Boston, SJP vandalized a menorah and disrupted Jewish events.
  • At the University of Michigan, anti-Israel student activists hurled death threats at Jewish student council members and called them “dirty Jew” and “kike.”

Why is it that so many university administrators and academics seem paralyzed to act if the victims of campus bullying are Zionist Jews?

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block’s reactions to the developments on his campus have been unsatisfactory. First, according to the Daily Bruin, he wanted to “leave the matter to be resolved by students.” Later, he said, “I am troubled that the pledge can reasonably be seen as trying to eliminate selected viewpoints from the discussion,” but he nevertheless stood up for the pledge as free speech protected by the First Amendment.

UCLA Chancellor: Palestinian Supporters Trying to Censor Campus Discussion

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

The heads of UCLA and the University of California system criticized a student-led pledge that urged candidates for student government to refuse trips to Israel sponsored by certain pro-Israel groups.

In a statement emailed Friday to students, staff and faculty, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said the pledge was protected speech under the First Amendment, but added that “just because speech is constitutionally protected doesn’t mean that it is wise, fair or productive.”

“I am troubled that the pledge sought to delegitimize educational trips offered by some organizations but not others,” Block said, weighing in on a debate that has roiled the campus for months. “I am troubled that the pledge can reasonably be seen as trying to eliminate selected viewpoints from the discussion.”

Block’s statement was seconded by Janet Napolitano, the California system’s president, who said in a statement, “I share Chancellor Block’s concerns about students at UCLA who target any student seeking to participate in student government who has a relationship with, or wants to travel to, Israel on trips sponsored by certain groups.”

Issued by five pro-Palestinian student groups, the pledge urged the candidates to agree to refuse any trips to Israel sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League, the America Israel Public Affairs Committee and Hasbarah Fellowship, a joint venture between Aish International and the Israeli government. Two of the three major slates of candidates for student government signed the pledge, as did the student body president, but the Bruins United slate, which refused to sign the pledge, won a plurality on the council.

The issue of sponsored trips to Israel has been particularly controversial of late in connection with a February vote by the UCLA student council on a resolution urging the university to divest from certain corporations that do business in the West Bank. The resolution was voted down, 7-5, but the pro-Palestinian groups have charged that two of the council members violated the body’s conflict of interest rules by failing to abstain after having taken trips to Israel sponsored by the ADL and the American Jewish Committee. A student judicial body held a hearing last week on the case.
 

UCLA SJP ‘Violated Principles of Civility, Respect and Inclusion’

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Last week The Jewish Press reported that seven pro-Israel groups wrote to the heads of the California Board of Regents. The pro-Israel groups wanted the officials to reverse the hands-off approach college officials had taken against two shocking anti-Israel initiatives undertaken at the University of California at Los Angeles. The goal of those initiatives is to deprive pro-Israel students of having a voice in their student government. Students for Justice in Palestine, an aggressively anti-Israel group, is behind these initiatives.

The UCLA SJP urged the student judicial board to investigate two members of the student government who had traveled to Israel on trips paid for by pro-Israel groups, in an effort to “prove” that the two were biased and should not have been able to vote on a resolution calling for divestment from investments in Israeli companies. The other initiative called on all students who wished to become a part of the student government to first take a pledge that they wouldn’t travel to Israel with the pro-Israel groups.

The UCLA administration’s initial response to the SJP initiatives was to punt.

UCLA encourages a climate of respectful engagement among students, faculty and staff, even in situations that are very difficult, painful and complex,” the statement said. “Student government functions independently, its proceedings proscribed by a constitution that makes available to students and student groups a process to review issues of alleged conflicts of interest. UCLA encourages all involved in this particular process to deliberate in an honest, respectful and inclusive manner.

That’s nice. But given the students were already past being anything close to respectful and inclusive, the pro-Israel groups were hoping the UCLA administration would take another look at the situation and respond with a little more oomph.

The groups did not have long to wait.

On Friday, May 16, the Chancellor of UCLA, Gene D. Block, issued a letter to the UCLA community. In his letter, Block paid homage to the freedom of speech, and explained that because the pledge was not something called for by the university and that no one was required to sign it, the SJP’s drafting and circulating the pledge was an issue of free speech.

But.

Block also clearly explained that just because someone can say something does not mean they should say it. In other words,

just because speech is constitutionally protected doesn’t mean that it is wise, fair or productive. I am troubled that the pledge sought to delegitimize educational trips offered by some organizations but not others. I am troubled that the pledge can reasonably be seen as trying to eliminate selected viewpoints from the discussion. I condemn any remarks on social media or elsewhere that are disrespectful or hurtful.

Political speech that stigmatizes or casts aspersions on individuals or particular groups does not promote healthy debate but debases it by trying to intimidate individuals and groups. It does not strengthen the bonds of mutual respect and engagement that sustain a diverse community able to manage differences; it weakens them. If we shut out perspectives, if we silence voices, if we allow innuendo to substitute for reasoned exchange of ideas, if we listen only to those who already share our assumptions, truth gets lost, our intellectual climate is impoverished and our community is diminished.

Passionate debate is to be expected in a civil society, especially in a heated election season, but I am personally concerned any time people feel disrespected, intimidated or unfairly singled out because of their beliefs. Important issues will generate passions, even discomfort — that cannot be avoided. But if the political debate on campus gets more shrill and less nuanced, if hostility replaces empathy, if we see each other as enemies rather than as colleagues trying to figure out how to do the right thing in difficult circumstances, we will all be the lesser for it. It is possible to express strong opinions without belittling others.

For her part, Janet Napolitano, UC president, issued a statement also on the 16th, essentially joining in with Block’s position. She wrote that while freedom of speech is a highly valued principle, “other principles are also highly valued, including the principles of civility, respect, and inclusion.” Napolitano stated quite directly that the actions of the SJP students and their supporters (Jewish Voice for Peace, amongst others) “violate those principles.”

UCLA student leaders face hearing over Israel trips

Saturday, May 17th, 2014

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — The University of California, Los Angeles student government held a hearing in response to a complaint leveled against two student council members over free trips they took to Israel.

The UCLA chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine brought the complaint against the two former members of the Undergraduate Students Association Council that led to Thursday’s hearing before the USAC’s Judicial Board.

The complaint accused the two students of violating the council’s conflict of interest policy for failing to disclose that they had taken sponsored trips to Israel before a council vote on a divestment resolution targeting Israel.

The Judicial Board has two weeks to decide the case.

The hearing came shortly after SJP and four other pro-Palestinian campus groups urged candidates in student government elections to sign a pledge promising not to accept trips to Israel sponsored by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Anti-Defamation League or Hasbara Fellowships.

The candidates on two of the three major party slates signed the pledge, including the person who went on to be elected student body president.

The complaint before the Judicial Board dates back to a February vote in which the student council voted down a resolution urging the University of California system to divest from several corporations accused of profiting from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The resolution was voted down, 7-5.

Similar resolutions have come up for votes at other campuses in the University of California system with mixed results.

The two former members of the student council, Sunny Singh and Lauren Rogers, defended themselves against charges that they should have abstained from voting on the resolution because each had taken a trip to Israel sponsored by pro-Israel organizations — Singh’s by the ADL, and Rogers’ by the American Jewish Committee. Neither Singh nor Rogers is Jewish.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/ucla-student-leaders-face-hearing-over-israel-trips/2014/05/17/

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