Has the Olive Tree Initiative done anything to reduce the anti-Israel rhetoric at UC Irvine?

This photo was taken from the so-called “apartheid wall” which travels throughout the State of California college campuses and recently concluded its stay at UC Irvine.  Please notice what the drawing describes as “occupied territory”.  It should speak for itself.  The question is:  Has the Olive Tree Initiative had any discernible positive impact in terms of the hateful rhetoric during “hate week” at UC Irvine and other California Campuses?  Why not ask the UC Irvine Muslim Student Union, Malik Ali, Ben White, Hatem Bazian or the so-called “Irvine 11″?

More bad news about the Olive Tree Initiative?

Note: On December 28, 2010 The Orange County Independent Task Force on Anti-Semitism,  formally asked  the Orange County Jewish Federation, Hillel and the Rose Project. to adopt the Jewish Community of San Francisco’s guidelines for funding. Among other things, the guidelines prohibit funding for any activities that “advocate for, or endorse, undermining the legitimacy of Israel as a secure independent, democratic Jewish state, including through participation in the [BDS] movement, in whole or in part.” On March 21, 2010, we published the Pledge in memory of the Fogal Family.  To date those entities, The OC Jewish Federation, Hillel and the Rose Project have not bothered to respond.

Bringing the War on Jerusalem to American Universities

By Frank Crimi On April 2, 2012 @ 12:01 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage

The Olive Tree Initiative (OTI), the self-described “non-partisan college educational program” operating out of numerous universities, has, since its founding in 2007, received the support of a bevy of rabidly anti-Israeli, anti-Jewish individuals and groups, many with connections to terrorist organizations and their apologists, including Hamas.

One such notable OTI supporter is Palestinian political leader Mustafa Barghouti, head of the Palestinian National Initiative (PNI), a Palestinian political party founded in 2002 as a purported “democratic third force” between the “corruption” of the Palestinian political umbrella group Fatah and the “extremism” of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. Barghouti has not only served as a lecturer for the OTI for many years, but in 2009 his organization, the PNI, was thanked for being an “Institiutional Supporter” of the program. An overview of Barghouti’s background validates why critics of the OTI believe the organization’s purpose is to manufacture anti-Israel advocates, all the while masquerading as a group dedicated to promoting “understanding” between Israelis and Palestinians.

Barghouti’s antipathy for Israelis may run in his family, given that his cousin, Marwan Barghouti, led the First and Second Intifadas and is currently serving five life sentences for murder in Israel. While Barghouti has publicly portrayed himself as a promoter of non-violence and an advocate of a two-state solution, he has also shown a disdain for the political process, having once proclaimed that “there’s no use in meetings with Israelis and there is no peace partner in Israel.”

Nevertheless, the reality is that Barghouti has played a leading role in the Fatah-Hamas coalition, a role which includes sidling up to the genocidal terrorists of Hamas and portraying Israel as bastion of apartheid and a perpetrator of crimes against humanity.

For example, Barghouti, who is a leader in the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, the economic warfare campaign against Israel, often uses “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing” rhetoric in describing Israel.

Barghouti’s most recent effort to delegitimize Israel was as a prime organizer of the Global March to Jerusalem (GMJ) on March 30, an event also supported by Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and the theocratic totalitarians of Iran.

According to event organizers, the GMJ was a protest march in which Arab and foreign activists were to descend upon Jerusalem in an attempt to “confirm that the policies and practices of the racist Zionist state of Israel against Jerusalem and its people are a crime not only against Palestinians but against all humanity.” Continue reading

More Questions Raised about the Olive Tree Initiative as Hamas Member Aziz Dweik is Re-Arrested

Note: On December 28, 2010 The Orange County Independent Task Force on Anti-Semitism,  formally asked  the Orange County Jewish Federation, Hillel and the Rose Project. to adopt the Jewish Community of San Francisco’s guidelines for funding. Among other things, the guidelines prohibit funding for any activities that “advocate for, or endorse, undermining the legitimacy of Israel as a secure independent, democratic Jewish state, including through participation in the [BDS] movement, in whole or in part.” On March 21, 2010, we published the Pledge in memory of the Fogal Family.  To date those entities, The OC Jewish Federation, Hillel and the Rose Project have not bothered to respond.

IDF Arrests Hamas Speaker of PA Parliament Who Met UC Irvine Students

by Jerry Gordon     

New English Review       Saturday, 21 January 2012

On Thursday, the IDF arrested the Hamas Speaker of the Palestinian Parliament, Aziz Dweik near Ramallah.  Dweik had been detained by the IDF in 2006. Dweik had figured prominently in the controversial Olive Tree Initiative at U.C. Irvine, when students had met students had met with Dweik during a visit to the West Bank  in 2009.  Orange County Jewish activist, Dee Sterling of Ha-Emet, the Truth had discovered through a California Public Records search evidenced that a Jewish Federation of Orange County (JFOC) affiliate, the Rose Project, had funded the Olive Tree Initiative program at U.C. Irvine.

Here is the Jerusalem Post report on Dweik’s arrest, “IDF nabs head of PA parliament” near Ramallah:

IDF soldiers arrested senior Hamas official, Aziz Dweik, speaker of the Palestinian Authority parliament on suspicion of involvement with terrorist groups on Thursday, the IDF and Hamas said. Hamas said Dweik was taken into custody at a checkpoint near Ramallah and it accused Israel of trying to prevent rival Palestinian factions from completing a unity deal. Dweik was arrested by Israel in 2006 and spent two years in jail.

Hamas won a parliamentary election in 2006 and seized control of the Gaza Strip from forces loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during a brief civil war a year later, since when parliament has been inactive. Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah faction agreed a reconciliation deal last year, but it has yet to be implemented.

We noted the encounter between Dweik, the UC Irvine students and the involvement of the JFOC in a July 2011 NER investigative article, “Does the Olive Tree Initiative Lack Credibility?”

JFOC loses its Credibility- the smoking gun letter. The JFOC’s credibility problem surfaced from a response to a California Public Records Act (PRA) request by local activists from Ha’Emet. That information surfaced a “smoking gun” letter sent by JFOC President Elcott to UCI Chancellor Drake in October, 2009 revealing a meeting between OTI students and Hamas representative Dweik. The JFOC leaders seized upon this letter as evidence that they had brought this to the attention of UCI administrators seeking an investigation. The JFOC leaders never informed the community. Continue reading

Olive Tree Initiatives “nefarious”connections?

The ‘Flytilla’: Brought to You by Friends of the Olive Tree Initiative   

Posted by  Nichole Hungerford on Jul 11th, 2011

Evidence continues to mount over the nefarious nature of the Olive Tree Initiative (OTI), a controversial student program that originated at the University of California, Irvine and is rapidly spreading to other campuses. Radical anti-Israel activists with long-standing involvement in the program have been identified as lead organizers of what has been dubbed the “flytilla,” a recent stunt aimed at putting the Israel delegitimization campaign back in the headlines. Sending young college students to meet with such Israel-hating extremists — including a leader of the terrorist organization Hamas — is what the OTI’s powerful patrons consider “holistic” education. 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

Once again, OC Federation asked to endorse pledge to deny funds to those who support BDS and those who seek to destroy Israel

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On December 28, 2010 The Orange County Independent Task Force on Anti-Semitism,  formally asked  the Orange County Jewish Federation, Hillel and the Rose Project. to adopt the Jewish Community of San Francisco’s guidelines for funding. Among other things, the guidelines prohibit funding for any activities that “advocate for, or endorse, undermining the legitimacy of Israel as a secure independent, democratic Jewish state, including through participation in the [BDS] movement, in whole or in part.” On March 21, 2010, we published the Pledge in memory of the Fogal Family.  To date those entities, The OC Jewish Federation, Hillel and the Rose Project have not bothered to respond. The following  letter is endorsed by the Orange County Independent Task Force on Anti-Semitism: Continue reading

More on BDS, the Olive Tree Initiative and “Lip Service”

Note: On December 28, 2010 The Orange County Independent Force on Anti-Semitism issued an Open Letter Concerning the Olive Tree Initiative at UC Irvine to leaders of the Orange County Jewish Community. In the letter we urged  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. As of this date, that letter has gone unanswered. (OCITF)

What’s the Matter with Boycotting Israel?

Nichole Hungerford on Mar 11th, 2011 Front Page Magazine

“How ironic — no, scratch that; how incredibly shortsighted — that just as Egypt starts to open up, an American Jewish community would start to clamp down.” This, Rob Eshman penned February 16th in a piece for the Jewish Journal in which he argued against the removal of Jewish communal funds from organizations engaged in BDS (boycott, divestment, sanction) strategies against Israel. To do so, as Eshman intimates, would be to close the Jewish community; to stifle the freedom of thought and expression from within its ranks. Although it is a well-meaning call for openness, it is, nonetheless, a deeply misguided assessment of the danger posed by the BDS movement. To understand the true nature of the movement, is to understand why it cannot be countenanced by the Jewish community in any form — at least not a Jewish community interested in the preservation of Israel. Continue reading

UCLA Students Letter Expresses Deep Concern about the Olive Tree Initiative

 
The OCITF is posting  the attached letter with the permission of the author:
 
 Dear Mr. Shalom Elcott,
  I have recently been made aware of the OTI. As a student at the University of California, Los Angeles, I am concerned about the OTI and its goals. Below is a letter expressing my concerns (I have also attached it to this email). If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Yours,
Naya Lekht
 
To Shalom Elcott, President and CEO of the
Orange County Jewish Federation:
 
            My name is Naya Lekht. I am a PhD candidate in the department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of California, Los Angeles. Recently, I have been made aware of the OTI (The Olive Tree Initiative) of UC Irvine. I am extremely concerned about this program, as I strongly believe that it is doing much harm to both Jewish students on campus and the image of Israel in the public arena.
            I am particularly troubled by several tenets and goals of the OTI. First and foremost, in times when Israel is demonized and unjustly singled out for perennial rebuke in the world, it is morally wrong to bring speakers who further implicate and vilify Israel. Part of the OTI goals is to better acquaint students with various ideas and narratives about the conflict in the Middle East. By drawing an equal sign between those voices who support Israel and those who wish to destroy Israel the OTI is, in effect, legitimizing a narrative that argues for the extermination of the State of Israel. Continue reading

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

Chutzpah

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The following editorial appearing  in UC Irvines New University on December 1, 2010, makes an astonishing claim:   “It must be made clear that the vast majority of the Jewish community in Orange County, including the Jewish Federation of Orange County and the Rose Project, support OTI and its mission on campus.

While it seems to be indisputable that the Jewish Federation of Orange County and the Rose Project support the Olive Tree Initiative (OTI),  we wonder what research did the editors of the New University conduct to support the rather bold notion that they might presume to know what the vast majority of the Jewish community supports or doesn’t support.  What is not unreasonable to assume,  is that the vast majority of Jewish community members are not aware of the exposure on OTI trips of students to individuals who represent organizations dedicated to the isolation and destruction of the State of Israel.  One such individual was recently described by Federation CEO Shalom Elcott as a “despicable character”.–OCITF

Here is the Editiorial

The editorial staff of the New University would like to clarify information presented in Nesma Tawil’s article “Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself” on Nov. 30.

As with any article in the Opinion section, the views presented represent the sole opinion of the writer, not the editorial board, the New University or any other organization or person at UCI.

It has been interpreted that the article overemphasizes the perceived conflict or disagreement between the Olive Tree Initiative and the Jewish community in Orange County. However, the article tries to make the distinction that only “a small group of members of the Jewish community” felt this way. It must be made clear that the vast majority of the Jewish community in Orange County, including the Jewish Federation of Orange County and the Rose Project, support OTI and its mission on campus. Minor edits have been made to the article to reflect this support.

Continue reading

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