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

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Tammi Rossman-Benjamin’s response to Dr. Daniel Wehrenfennig, Director of the UCI Olive Tree Initiative

Dear Dr. Daniel Wehrenfennig,

You did not write to me directly, though you did blind-copy me on your recent widely-circulated letter (forwarded below), in which you mentioned my name 18 times and attacked a letter I had sent to the heads of the Orange County Jewish Federation and Hillel.  My letter urged these Jewish communal organizations to withdraw their funding and promotion of the Olive Tree Initiative (OTI) because at least 15 of the OTI’s speakers are affiliated with organizations that have ties to terrorist groups that have murdered Jews, advocate the elimination of the Jewish state, and support boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israel.  I also pointed out to the OC Federation and Hillel that it is wrong for Jewish communal resources to be used for a trip that engages Jewish students in activities that desecrate Jewish holy days, such as the OTI trip in 2010, during which students spent the two days of Rosh Hashanah and the following Sabbath (and other Sabbaths) engaged in non-Jewish activity in Jordan and the disputed territories.

You fiercely criticized my letter, stating that I “made up facts” and that my analysis was “incomplete and misleading,” “completely inaccurate,” and filled with “wrong information and missing facts,” “a pattern of misinformation,” “erroneous statements,” and “distortion.”  I would like to reply to your charges, which I believe are wholly baseless, extremely disingenuous, and highly offense to the Jewish community in general, and to me personally as a UC faculty member, and as a Jew. Continue reading

Is the Middle East Studies Student Initiative (MESSI)at UC Irvine endorsing “A Call To Boycott, Divest, and Sanction Israel”?

According to the MSU web site Israel Apartheid week: A Call to Boycott, Divest, and Sanction Israel is co-sponsored By:

Asian Pacific Students Association (APSA), Indian Subcontinental Club (ISC), Kababayan, Middle East Studies Student Initiative (MESSI), Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA), Pakistani Student Association (PSA), the Radical Student Union (RSU), Society of Arab Students (SAS), Worker-Student Alliance (WSA).r

https://i0.wp.com/www.msuuci.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/IAW_FRONT.jpg

According to a statement by Jewish Federation President and CEO Shalom C. Elcott:

“In contrast to the behavior of the Muslim Student Union, it is important to note that members of MESSI (Middle East Studies Student Initiative, which includes Muslim and Arab students) participated in co-sponsoring the Ambassador’s appearance.  Several Muslim and Arab members of MESSI have also participated, along with Christian and Jewish students, in the Olive Tree Initiative, a Rose Project-supported program that sends a diverse group of UCI students to the Middle East for encounters with Israelis and Palestinians.” See Outrage at UCI: Federation Response

According to MESSI’s  web site, Hillels current Executive Director served on the  “community advisory committee” from at least 2008-2009. On January 31, 2009,  MESSI co-sponsored  an  all day anti-Israel event entitled  “Wither the Levant “. See Also: Improper and Unauthorized Use of Official University of California Seal

If MESSI is supporting this boycott and divestment movement, then a strong public message  of  condemnation  from these “leaders” is   appropriate.


UC Irvine take note: OC Federation CEO to “intensely monitor” the situation.

Jewish leaders want U.C. Irvine to react powerfully

February 18, 2010 Jweekly.com

by ben harris , jta

The chief executive of the Jewish Federation of Orange County has put U.C. Irvine on notice — he’ll be watching what’s happening there.

Eleven students were arrested Feb. 8 for disrupting a speech by Israeli ambassador Michael Oren.

In the wake of that event, federation head Shalom Elcott said the Jewish community will “intensely monitor” the response of the university. Continue reading