New English Review: Jewish Federation leader allegedly hits UCI Professor with coiled up flyers after “heated verbal exchange”.

Does The Olive Tree Initiative Lack Credibility?

Jerry Gordon

New English Review (July 2011)

On May 9th, the President of the Jewish Federation & Family Services of Orange County, California (JFOC), Shalom Elcott, was loitering on the plaza during the first day of the 2011l anti-Israel Apartheid Awareness Week organized by the Muslim Student Union (MSU)at University of California, Irvine (UCI). He encountered Professor Amihai Glazer. Glazer was one of 60 faculty members who had signed a letter expressing the view that antisemitism did indeed exist on the UCI campus – Islamic antisemitism. The conversation became heated when Elcott suddenly hit Glazer with coiled up flyers after Glazer told him he had “a credibility problem.”

Elcott is the brother of Prof. David Elcott of NYU Wagner College. David Elcott is a former US Interreligious Affairs Director of the American Jewish Committee. He left to become executive director of the J Street ally, the Israel Policy Forum (IPF). His successor at the IPF is MJ Rosenberg an active supporter of J Street’s mantra of “pro- Israel and pro-Peace” seeking immediatedeclaration of a Palestinian State.

One potential problem at UCI was the Olive Tree Initiative (OTI). The OTI was co-founded as a student led group in 2008 that included former Muslim Student Union President, Ali Malik, Isaac Yerushalmi, former head of Anteaters for Israel, and then graduate student, now director of the OTI, Daniel Wehrenfennig. The objective of the OTI program, sponsored by the JFOC Rose Project, was to send Jewish and non-Jewish students to Israel and the West Bank to expose them to a variety of views from Israeli and Palestinian representatives so they might gain an understanding of all sides of the issues.

Jewish student leaders at UCI Hillel, local JFOC officials and Jewish students who have gone on OTI sponsored trips persist in saying that antisemitism doesn’t exist on campus. Continue reading

Sign the Petition to UC President Mark Yudof

Dear Task Force friends,

As a follow-up to last  year’s letter to UC President Mark Yudof, which 12 organizations  — including  your own — signed, my colleague Dr. Leila Beckwith and I have recently posted  another on-line letterto President Yudof, urging him to forcefully and  promptly address the problem of the harassment and intimidation of Jewish students on UC campuses.  We are hoping that thousands of Jewish community members will join us in signing this follow-up letter.

Could you please forward the following to your email subscribers?

Many thanks,
Tammi

Dear Jewish Community of California,

Bigotry against Jewish students has occurred on University of California campuses over many years and on many campuses.  Jewish students have been subjected to: swastikas; acts of physical aggression; speakers, films and exhibits that use anti-Semitic imagery and discourse; speakers that praise and encourage support for terrorist organizations; the organized disruption of events sponsored by Jewish student groups; and most recently the promotion of student senate resolutions for divestment from Israel that seek to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish State.

Last May, more than 700 Jewish UC students signed a petition expressing outrage at anti-Jewish rhetoric and imagery on their campuses.  They asserted that these incidents are as offensive and hurtful to Jewish students as a “Compton cookout” or a noose are to African American students. In addition, dozens of Jewish students from three different UC campuses, who responded to an on-line questionnaire, described feeling harassed and intimidated by the promotion of hatred against the Jewish State and of Jews.  Almost all of the students felt that the administrators on their campuses did not treat Jewish concerns as sensitively as they did the concerns of other minorities such as African Americans and Latinos.

In June 2010, leaders of 12 Jewish organizations, including the Orthodox Union and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, wrote to UC President Mark Yudof, expressing their concerns about the hostile environment faced by Jewish students on UC campuses, and calling on him to address this serious problem immediately.  President Yudof responded by asking Jewish leaders to have patience and faith in the newly-established Advisory Councils on Campus Climate, Culture, and Inclusion. Over the last year, however, these Advisory Councils have failed to address, or even acknowledge, the problem of anti-Semitism on UC campuses.  In fact, the aims and actions of the Advisory Councils since their inception, as revealed by documents released under a  Freedom of Information request, show that Jewish students are not a focus at all. Continue reading

Has The Jewish Federation of Orange County (JFOC) ” been dishonest in the disclosure of its funding of the Olive Tree Initiative?”

The Patrons of Anti-Israelism

Posted by  Nichole Hungerford on Jun 23rd, 2011

Frontpage Magazine

Last week, a troubling article appeared in The Jerusalem Post on the Olive Tree Initiative (OTI), a shady student organization run primarily through the University of California, Irvine that is rapidly spreading. The subject of intense criticism, the OTI has been infiltrated by (among others) activists from the terrorism-supporting International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and has sent students to meet with a leader of Hamas. Even so, what appeared in the Post does little to hold the organization accountable — or its powerful supporters in the Jewish Federation of Orange County (JFOC).

The OTI has been covered extensively at FrontPage, most recently in an article detailing a 2009 student trip to Israel and the West Bank on which students met with one of the foremost leaders of Hamas, Aziz Duwaik (trips to Israel to meet with “dialogue partners” are a central function of the program). The meeting occurred just months after Duwaik’s release from Israeli custody. Afterward, students were told to coverup the meeting and to essentially deceive officials in order to avoid trouble crossing borders and leaving the country. A spokeswoman from UC Irvine told FrontPage that there was no investigation into the incident that she knew of, nor has there been any evidence of an investigation subsequently. That is to say, neither the university nor the OTI’s funders have shown any interest in understanding the OTI’s dealings with Hamas, and in particular, how it is possible that the OTI arranged this meeting and what internal connections brought it about. (Duwaik, incidentally, was detained again in May by the Israeli Defense Force.)

The fact that there was no investigation is most puzzling, as JFOC sent a letter to Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake ostensibly insisting that an investigation be preformed. Yet with no investigation conducted, the federation continues its support. Continue reading

JPost: “Elcott and Margolis do admit that students meet with speakers who support BDS and the branding of Israel as an apartheid state.”

So, sending students into a dangerous neighborhood and into the arms of those who seek to destroy Israel and the Jewish people  to get their “perspective”is appropriate, so long as they get the other point of view?  And this is what we call  leadership? 

A very balanced itinerary?

By BEN HARTMAN JPost.com
06/15/2011 23:20

Is the Olive Tree Initiative, an interfaith program that brings American students here to learn about the Israeli-Arab conflict, offering its participants the appropriate mosaic of views?
Shalom Elcott thinks you may have gotten the wrong idea.

In Israel this past week for Shavuot, the Orange County Jewish Federation president and CEO said that criticism of his group’s support for the Olive Tree Initiative (OTI) was misplaced and not based on an honest examination of the program.

“We could all agree that we don’t love all the speakers, but we have to work with American Jews to develop a greater understanding about how important that diversity of opinions in Israel is. Our job is to work with OTI and open the door to the best possible teachers and people who know the facts on the ground and make sure they’re engaged on the trip,” he said. Continue reading

Rabbi’s home attacked at UC Irvine

Official Statement from Chabad at UCI:

On Tuesday, May 31st at around 1:30pm a potted plant was thrown at the front window of the Chabad House at UCI. The home also serves as the residence of Rabbi and Mrs. Zevi Tenenbaum.

The object broke a glass panel of the front window. Thank G-d no one was hurt. The housekeeper was the only one home at the time. A police report was filed with the Irvine Police Department.

Rabbi Zevi and Miriam Tenenbaum regularly host UCI Students for Shabbat and Holiday Dinners at this location.   There is a Menorah on display in the front patio.

At this point in time there are no leads as to who may have been the perpetrator.

Rabbi Zevi Tenenbaum