Wednesday, October 28, 2009

ZOA Response to New University (UCI Campus Paper) Article on Viva Palestina Fundraiser

Cross-posted by Gary Fouse

In response to the New University (UC-Irvine campus paper) article on the UC-Irvine controversy over George Galloway and his Viva Palestina money collection on May 21, (see my previous post) the Zionist Organization of America has responded to the New University. That response is attached below.

"______________'s (I am deleting the name of the student journalist) article contains several errors and key omissions. First, the article says that the ZOA has no “direct disputes with the MSU.” That is not accurate. To clarify, the ZOA’s legal action on behalf of Jewish students at UCI was not filed against the MSU. It was filed against UCI for failing to ensure a campus environment free from anti-Semitic harassment and intimidation, in accordance with federal law.

That is not to say that the ZOA has no issue with the MSU. We do have an issue with this group, because the harassment and intimidation that Jewish students have faced comes primarily from the MSU and the hateful and bigoted programs and speakers it routinely sponsors on campus, which promote demonizing lies about Jews and Israel.

Kym Thoumaked asked us many questions about the two Jewish students whom we know left UCI because of the hatred and bigotry that the MSU promoted on the campus. We gave Ms. Thoumaked many details about what these students faced before they decided that they could no longer endure the hostility and transferred elsewhere. For instance, we told her that one Jewish student was screamed at, “Go back to Russia where you came from” – even though this student’s father was from Lebanon and his mother was from Syria – “burn in hell,” and “f_ _king Jew.” We described to Ms. Thoumaked that the other student was called such epithets as “dirty Israeli” (he was actually Egyptian), “dirty Jew,” and “f_ _king Jewish bitch,” and his life was threatened. None of this was even mentioned in the article.

Second, the article says that “Steven Emerson, a distinguished terrorism expert, is investigating Viva Palestina.” In fact, Mr. Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism completed its investigation and issued a 31-page report about it. Mr. Emerson concluded that “the Viva Palestina campaign is more about supporting and legitimizing Hamas than it is about providing aid to the needy. In their speeches and in the delivery of their supplies, Viva Palestina’s most visible leaders call for the elimination of the State of Israel to pave the way for a ‘one state solution' to the [Palestinian Arab-Israeli] conflict. They treat Hamas leaders as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and provide both material and moral support to the terrorist organization.”

Third, this article disseminated the falsehood that the MSU has been promoting – that the ZOA is attempting to suppress the MSU’s free speech rights. That is patently false. We have our own free speech rights, entitling us to speak out against the MSU’s hateful and bigoted conduct, and to decry the harmful impact it has had on the UCI community.

The article notes the MSU’s letter to UCI’s chief campus counsel in which the MSU launches a vicious and baseless attack on the ZOA and other groups, accusing the ZOA of violating the MSU’s First Amendment rights. We answered these claims in a detailed response, which the article neglects even to mention. Interested readers can access it here:

What is most significant about this article is that it highlights the fact that the MSU has not denied that it solicited funds for Viva Palestina, that Viva Palestina provided support and resources to the terrorist group Hamas, and that such conduct is illegal. It is also significant that the MSU has admitted that it violated UCI’s policies on fundraising. As the article makes clear, the MSU simply shrugs off its misconduct by belittling UCI policies as mere “technicalities,” and contending, without proof, that other student groups violate these policies, too.

Many like us believe that university policies should be fully and fairly enforced. This situation certainly cried out for strict compliance with UCI policies. By failing to comply with them, the MSU may have aided and abetted a violation of federal law, by soliciting funds for a group that provided material support to Hamas, an organization that our government recognizes as a terrorist organization."

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