Open Letter Concerning the Olive Tree Initiative at UC Irvine

Shalom Elcott–Orange County Jewish Federation and Family Services
Jay Feldman–Rose Project
Jordan Fruchtman–Hillel Foundation of Orange County


As you are well aware, the continuing controversy surrounding the support of the Olive Tree Initiative (OTI) by the Jewish Federation, The Rose Project and Hillel has created a bitter rift within the broader Jewish community. While the original intentions of this program might have been good, the preponderance of evidence collected by a number of groups, including the OC Task Force, indicates that continued support of OTI is ill advised. For instance, on the 2010 trip, OTI’s leadership demonstrated insensitivity to Jewish students by scheduling events on the Jewish Sabbath and Rosh Hashanah and relentlessly exposing Jewish students to individuals dedicated to the Boycott Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement and to the destruction of the State of Israel. Even after the trip, the OTI provided sponsorship for talks by George S. Rishmawi on the U C Irvine campus. This person was a co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement and is a current staff member of the  Palestine Center for Rapprochment (PCR).  Both organizations are known for their very strong anti-Israel positions.

Contrary to pronouncements made by the leadership of the OTI since its inception in March 2007, the situation on the UC Irvine campus has not improved for Jewish students.  This is evidenced by several poignant examples:

We urge the Jewish Federation, The Rose Project and and Hillel to adopt the The Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties Funding Guidelines and to cease any and all connection to the Olive Tree Initiative.


Jan Mark Dudman
Robert L. Winer
Executive Vice President
Ted Bleiweis
Executive Director

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