UC President Yudof Supports
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) condemns the University of California, Irvine for once again irresponsibly whitewashing the misconduct of the Muslim Student Union, a registered student group on campus – despite the University’s finding that the Muslim Student Union engaged in unauthorized fundraising on campus on May 21, 2009, and despite evidence that the funds may have been illegally provided to the terrorist group Hamas in Gaza. The ZOA also criticizes UC Irvine for absolving university employees who attended the Muslim Student Union’s fundraising event, even though the employees knew or should have known that the fundraising was unauthorized and nevertheless did not stop or report it.
Given that the United States is involved in a global war against Islamist and jihadist terrorism, which includes terrorist groups like Hamas, UC Irvine had a compelling imperative to thoroughly investigate students and student groups who allegedly provided support and resources to Hamas (or who aided and abetted such conduct), and to severely sanction those students and student groups if the allegations are shown to be true.
In a letter to the ZOA dated May 28, 2010, Diane Fields Geocaris, UC Irvine’s Chief Campus Counsel, reported that the University’s investigation into events surrounding a program sponsored by the Muslim Student Union on May 21, 2009, was “complete.” The program featured radical Israel-bashing British politician George Galloway. The University’s investigation was triggered by several troubling events surrounding the program, which the ZOA brought to UC Irvine’s attention last September.
At the program, both Galloway and members of the Muslim Student Union solicited funds for Galloway’s group called Viva Palestina. Viva Palestina has been bringing “convoys” of vehicles, goods, money and supplies to Gaza, supposedly to provide humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. But there is evidence – which the ZOA furnished to UC Irvine – that Viva Palestina has been providing material support and resources to the terrorist group Hamas, which is illegal under federal law.
When Galloway arrived in Gaza in March 2009, he gave a public address that was broadcast on Arab television. In the presence of several senior Hamas officials, Galloway publicly proclaimed, “We are giving you now 100 vehicles and all of the contents, and we make no apology for what I am about to say: We are giving them to the elected government of Palestine,” i.e., the terrorist group Hamas. The ZOA furnished the University with the links to the clip from Galloway’s public address and to a transcript of his address.
The Investigative Project on Terrorism, headed by terrorism expert Steven Emerson, issued a 31-page report about Viva Palestina, which the ZOA also furnished to UC Irvine. The report debunked the notion that Viva Palestina’s goal is to provide for the needy. The report states that “Viva Palestina’s most visible leaders call for the elimination of the State of Israel . . . .They treat Hamas leaders as the legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people and provide both material and moral support to the terrorist organization.”
The ZOA also furnished UC Irvine with the taped interview of an individual who went on the July 2009 Viva Palestina convoy to Gaza. The individual confirmed in the interview that the July 2009 convoy was not a humanitarian mission; rather, the convoy’s resources went to Hamas in Gaza.
In addition to this troubling evidence that the Muslim Student Union may have used the UC Irvine campus as a base for fundraising for the terrorist group Hamas, the ZOA furnished evidence of misconduct by UC Irvine’s own employees. According to University records, at least four employees were present at the Galloway event on May 21, 2009. They knew – or should have known – that fundraising had not been authorized by the University, yet not one stopped it. And when one of the employees submitted a report about the event to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, the report reflects that the unauthorized fundraising was not even mentioned.
In her letter announcing that the University’s investigation of the events surrounding the Galloway program was complete, Ms. Geocaris reported that the University “found that fundraising occurred [at the Galloway program] without University permission.” But Ms. Geocaris further stated that “[t]he investigation was unable to determine whether the failure was negligent, reckless or intentional. The matter has been referred to the office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs for appropriate action.”
As to the troubling issue of whether the funds solicited on campus by the Muslim Student Union were provided to the terrorist group Hamas, the University did even address or decide it, even though such conduct would not only be illegal but also a violation of University policies. The policies state that “[u]niversity properties . . . shall not be used for the purpose of organizing or carrying out unlawful activity.” The policies also state that “[f]unds raised may not be used for illegal purposes.” Yet the University apparently has decided to ignore whether the Muslim Student Union violated these policies; according to Ms. Geocaris, the matter has been left to “law enforcement officials for action as they deem appropriate.”
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein condemned the University’s typically weak and lax response to the Muslim Student Union’s egregious conduct: “UC Irvine has once again demonstrated that when it comes to the Muslim Student Union, University policies don’t matter. The University will overlook the policies and won’t hold the Muslim Student Union accountable when policies are violated.
“The University found that the Muslim Student group did in fact violate the policies by soliciting funds without the University’s prior approval. Apparently to justify why the group isn’t being punished for its wrongdoing, Ms. Geocaris has explained that the University couldn’t determine whether that failure was ‘negligent, reckless or intentional.’ But that’s irrelevant; the policies don’t make any such distinctions and the wrongdoing should be punished regardless.
“It’s absurd that after an eight-month investigation, the University could not make a determination about whether the Muslim Student Union intentionally failed to get University approval to do fundraising. Telling us that the matter has been referred to the Vice Chancellor for ‘appropriate action’ is just more evidence of the University’s foot-dragging when it comes to responding to the Muslim Student Union’s misconduct.
“It’s also appalling that the University has decided that whether the Muslim Student Union used the campus as a base for fundraising for a terrorist group is not its concern. Leaving the matter to law enforcement officials is passing the buck. The group’s conduct likely violated University policies. If it did, the Muslim Student Union should have been sanctioned. Given the Muslim Student Union’s long history of flouting the rules, the appropriate sanction is revoking the group’s registered status.
“The Muslim Student Union continues to make a mockery of the University’s own policies and the University is helping the group do it. The fact that the University continues not to hold this group accountable for its continuing egregious and indeed possibly illegal conduct is shameful and appalling.
“Making matters worse, Mark Yudof, the President of the University of California, has endorsed UC Irvine’s handling of the Galloway investigation. In response to a letter written by a concerned community member about the Galloway matter, President Yudof referred to Ms. Geocaris’ letter to the ZOA and stated, ‘I am satisfied with the campus response and have nothing further to add to it.’
“UC Irvine’s actions are unacceptable and even dangerous. We continue to urge all decent people, including all Jewish, Christian and Muslim organizations, to speak out against UC Irvine’s shocking and irresponsible refusal to take action.”