At the UC Board of Regents meeting today, the University of California passed a resolution which condemned “anti-Semitism, anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination” and stated “they have no place at the University of California.”
Anti-Zionism has now been linked to anti-Semitism and condemned by the most prestigious and largest public university in the United States. This is an unprecedented and remarkable step forward, which will benefit Jewish students across the country!
AMCHA began communicating with UC Regents and community members a year ago after hearing from concerned parents and students about the rapid rise of anti-Semitism at UC. In September the Regents appointed a task force to address the problem. The task force held numerous public meetings and hearings to hear from the community and experts. Last week they released the proposed Statement of Principles Against Intolerance that was approved unanimously yesterday by the Regents Committee on Educational Policy and today by the full board.
Leaders and Representatives of multiple organizations (including AMCHA Initiative, Bruins for Israel, Iranian American Jewish Federation, Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, Simon Wiesenthal Center, StandWithUs, Students Supporting Israel at UCLA, and Zionist Organization of America), UC Students, UC Professors, and concerned UC Alumni at the UC Regents Meeting, March 23, 2016.
At yesterday’s meeting, dozens of UC students and faculty, representatives from Jewish organizations, including, the Anti-Defamation League, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Jewish Community Relations Council, and AMCHA Initiative, and State Assembly member Travis Allen testified before the Regents urging them to support the measure. In addition, over the last week, more than 4,000 UC students, faculty, parents, alumni and stakeholders; 60 Jewish and education advocacy groups, including Hillel International, Jewish Federations of North America, and the American Jewish Committee; as well as the California Legislature’s Jewish Caucus and U.S. Congressman Brad Sherman urged the Regents to condemn anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in the Statement.
The vote, with the inclusion of the condemnation of anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism, represents a new direction in administration addressing modern anti-Semitism. We are incredibly proud of this achievement. It was a challenging journey to arrive at this point, one that required the persistence of AMCHA, our extraordinary at-will coalition partners, students, activists, alumni and supporters.
Watch this YouTube video of the historic UC Board Of Regents vote:
We have written numerous articles and blog posts about the virulent anti-Zionism espoused by Muslim Student Union, Students for Justice in Palestine in the UC system and other elite campuses. That began with a January 2011 interview about the situation on the UCIrvine campus with local Orange County Jewish activist, Dee Sterling. Especially concern was the disruption of a speech by Former Israeli Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren at UC Irvine in 2008, recounted his memoir, Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide. That led to the successful prosecution under California heckling conspiracy statues in Orange County. That led to the conviction of 11 MSU student leaders from the Riverside and UC Irvine Campuses in 2011.
There were revelations about campus leftists controlling the Olive Tree Imitative program, funded in part by a grant from a local Orange County Jewish Federation affiliate at UC Irvine. That led to an alleged chance encounter in 2009 with Aziz Duwaik, the Hamas Palestinian Legislative Council Speaker. In June 2015, we interviewed the President of Anteaters for Israel Jewish student activist Sharon Shaoulian, who recounted actions by former Orange County J Fed President Elcott and the campus Hillel chapter executive during IFEST (Israel Festival) supporting pro-Palestinian MSU kiosks during Apartheid Awareness week. We reached out to former AFI leader and UC Irvine alumna, Reut Rory Cohen who provided the history of Orange JFed antagonism towards campus Jewish activism. Ultimately, the cumulative effect of these exposes resulted in the resignation in July 2015 of Orange County J Fed President Elcott.
We hope that Sharon Shaoulian, Reut Rory Cohen, Dee Sterling, Gary Fouse, Debra and Amichai Glazer involved at UCIrvine are pleased about yesterday’s UC Board of Regents vote. However, now the effort must begin in earnest enlisting the Chancellors and faculty Senates of each University and state college campuses in California to implement initiatives protecting Campus Zionism activism and free speech. That also goes to local JFeds and Hillel Chapters to clean up their acts to reform misguided efforts thwarting such campus activism.
https://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/university-of-california-seal.jpg360640Jerry Gordonhttp://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngJerry Gordon2016-03-25 08:46:462016-03-25 08:50:28University of California Board of Regents Passes Groundbreaking pro-Israel Resolution
It’s official. The problematic President of the Orange County Jewish Federation & Family Services (JFFS), Shalom Elcott, has been ousted by the board – his contract was apparently not renewed. Notwithstanding he remains as a strategic consultant to the Chairman of the JFFS board. This marks an important victory for Campus Zionism on the controversial UC Irvine campus. Thus, ends a nearly decade long intrusion by Elcott working against the Zionist Anteaters for Israel (AFI) campus group. AFI’s leaders like incumbent Sharon Shaoulian and alum like Reut Cohen and others have borne the brunt of assaults on their campus activities and free speech by Elcott with support from his appointed Hillel chapter campus director. Elcott’s dossier was the subject of a June 2015 NER article, “How One Southern California Jewish Federation Undermines Student Zionism at a State University.”
A press release from the Orange County JFFS issued on Wednesday, July 22ndconfirmed Elcott’s replacement:
The Board of Jewish Federation & Family Services (JFFS) announced today that it has appointed Dr. Lauren Gavshon, JFFS’ current Director of Clinical Services as interim President and Chief Executive Officer, replacing Shalom Elcott as President and Chief Executive Officer
Elcott, a visionary leader who fundamentally transformed JFFS into the robust and diverse organization it is today, will continue to serve as Strategic Advisor to the Chair of the Board
Dr. Gavshon and her family have been involved in the local Jewish community for over 20 years, and she is well positioned to take on this expanded role,” said Daniel J. Koblin, Chair of the Board.
Our colleague, UCI adjunct faculty member, Gary Fouse on his Fousesquawks blog wrote:
I know nothing about Dr. Lauren Gavshon, who is the interim CEO. The press release describes her as a bridge-builder. Heaven knows they need one over at the Federation after the Elcott reign.
Here is my question: If Elcott did such a great job, as the Federation is claiming, why the change? Why is there no reason given? Normally, something is said about a “retirement” or so-and-so wanting to spend more time with the family. One can read all kinds of things into this, but I will await further information coming out-as it surely will.
Hopefully, the new CEO will change the culture at the Federation and make it one that will truly represent all the Jewish students at UC Irvine especially the ones that choose to fight for Israel and stand up to anti-Semitism. Hopefully, the new leadership will speak out about anti-Semitism at UCI rather than try to sweep it under the rug. Hopefully, the new leadership will join the community in fighting the problem instead of trying to keep its members away from campus. Hopefully, the new leadership will support those who want to wave the Israeli and American flags in the face of pro-Palestinian demonstrators who disrupt pro-Israel events on campus. Hopefully, the new leadership will cut all ties with the insidious Olive Tree Initiative and denounce it for what it is; a thinly-veiled attempt to sway students toward the Palestinian narrative while masquerading as neutral.
Ms. Gavshon has a lot of work cut out for her as she tries to repair the mess left behind by Elcott.
We were glad to have helped in whatever way I to raise consciousness among Orange County co-coreligionists and Jews around the world about Elcott’s cultivation of Israel’s enemies on the dime of the Orange County JFFS at the UC Irvine campus. One of Elcott’s more troubling initiatives at UCIrvine was diverting funds from a JFFS affiliate, the Rose Project , to fund student trips sponsored by the left-wing controlled Olive Tree Initiative at UCIrvine. That led to an alleged inadvertent meeting in 2009 with Hamas leader on the West Bank, Aziz Duwaik, and Palestinian Legislative Council leader. It has been almost five years since published an interview with local Zionist activist and Ha’Emet blogger, Dee Sterling about the plague of anti-Zionist activities on the Southern California campus.
Former Israeli Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren was scheduled to give a speech at UC Irvine on February 8, 201, when it was disrupted by campus members of the Muslim Student Union (MSU). That was followed by the arrest, prosecution and conviction of 11 students, 8 from UC Irvine and 3 from UC Riverside for disturbing a public event The legal action brought by the Orange County District Attorney triggered a one year suspension of the Muslim Brotherhood affiliate by the Administration only to be reduced to 10 weeks by the retiring deputy Chancellor at UCI. In the interim, Students for Justice in Palestine was formed as a placeholder for the suspended MSU.
Sharon Shaoulin, President of Anteaters for Israel, UC Irvine
We produced a number of articles on the NER and our blog The Iconoclast about the misguided helmsman of the JFFS of Orange County. There was our joint effort with Debra Glazer developing A Pledge Against the Self-Destruction of American Jews to be signed off Jewish Federations against participation in anti-Zionist programs of groups like J Street and Jewish Voices for Peace and unfortunately all too many fellow traveling Jewish Federations. Prescient, given the spike in Antisemitism in the EU, the Global BDS movement and the great divide among fellow American Jews about Obama and controversial pact with Islamic Republic of Iran.
Besides Sterling, Fouse and Glazer there were others among the UCI faculty and local Orange County community activists exposing Elcott endeavoring to defeat campus Zionism. In the end with his ouster, perhaps a new day will dawn for both Orange County JFFS and at UC Irvine. Sharon Shaoulian, current President and alum like Reut Cohen of Anteaters For Israel can quiet satisfaction that at least this nightmare is over. They stood up to Elcott’s bullying tactics, which we and others exposed, possibily resulting in the JFFS board decision this week to terminate his contract. Elcott’s ouster should be a warning to his minions at UCI Hillel and leftist allies of the anti-Semitic Muslim Student Union, Students for Justice in Palestine and the Olive Tree Initiative at UCI. Hopefully Shalom’s brother David Elcott at NYU’s Wagner College might arrange a permanent position for him with J Street. Professor Elcott is a member of the J Street Advisory board.
https://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/ucirvine_00.jpg428640Jerry Gordonhttp://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngJerry Gordon2015-07-26 08:26:232015-07-26 11:49:51Victory for Zionism at University of California Irvine Campus
Over the past several years we have chronicled anti-Israel hate mongering by campus Muslim Student groups and violation of opposing views of pro-Israel speakers and events at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). In a series of New English Review articles, interviews and Iconoclast blog posts we revealed the heckler’s veto of former Israeli Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren in February 8, 2010 by an organized disruption of his speech by campus members of the Muslim Student Union (MSU). That was followed by the arrest, prosecution and conviction of 11 students, 8 from UC Irvine and 3 from UC Riverside for disturbing a public event The legal action brought by the Orange County District Attorney triggered a one year suspension of the Muslim Brotherhood affiliate by the Administration only to be reduced to 10 weeks by the retiring deputy Chancellor at UCI. In the interim, Students for Justice in Palestine was formed as a placeholder for the suspended MSU. We also unraveled the story behind the Jewish Federation of Orange County (JFOC) affiliate, the Rose Project, funding the Olive Tree Initiative that brought students to Israel and the West Bank in 2009 for an alleged chance encounters with a Hamas leader, Aziz Duwaik, former Speaker of the Palestine Legislative Council. See our NER article:”Does the Olive Tree Initiative have Credibility?” We questioned both the leadership of the Jewish Federation of Orange County and the UCI Administration dissembling over this incident.
UCI has a small Jewish student body versus a much larger Muslim one. For most of the 32 weeks on the UCI campus, things are relatively quiet. However, during Anti Zionism Week (AZW) and Israel Festival, iFEST, sponsored by Anteaters for Israel (AFI) the decibel levels and protests hate towards Israel rises to a veritable crescendo. The AZW events organized by the MSU have typically involved anti-Israel speakers, and in the past some like Malik Ali with anti-Semitic statements, holding forth at noon events at the flagpole. Despite this, JFOC President Shalom Elcott has suggested in the past, there is no anti-Semitism at UCI. Last year , an assault by MSU protesters disrupted iFEST with calls for campus police assistance that resulted in a woman student being upbraided by a JFOC board member. This year AFI President Sharon Shaoulian organized a three day event from April 22 to 24th without JFOC funding, but with sponsors including the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), StandWithUs, CAMERA on Campus, the Israel on Campus Coalition, and Hasbara. Hillel, with is affiliated with JFOC, provided funding for Shabbat.
What happened during iFEST on April 23, 2015 revealed why JFOC and Hillel have undermined Jewish student Zionism at UCI. This year it was triggered by an ambush of MSU and Students for Justice in Palestine (JSP) pouring out of the Campus Cultural Center to attack the Jewish student Zionist group , Anteaters for Israel’s (AFI) during their iFEST Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration of Israel’s Independence. The iFEST attendees in opposition to the MSU/SJP protesters created space between the opposing groups with massed Israeli and American flags and Israeli dances. A Frontpage Magazine article by Arnold Ahlert “Pro-Israel Student Group Meets Opposition from Jewish Leadership” revealed what happened when JFOC President Shalom Elcott and aide Lisa Armony, Hillel Executive, intervened:
Witness Gary Fouse, adjunct UCI lecturer, reported that Lisa Armony, Director of the Jewish Federation of Orange County and Hillel Executive, was among those attempting to move the flag wavers back. One witness reported that they were “approached and told that it was wrong for anyone holding a flag to be standing facing the MSU/anti-Israel faction.” The witness was told that waving the flags was “antagonizing.” One of the flag wavers, who did not wish to be named, said that students who “seemed to be pressured by someone else” approached him and other flag carriers “and told us that we should not march with the flags since it ‘makes us look bad.’” It was further suggested to him that they move down the street and away from the area.
This witness also saw the far more troubling exchange between a man subsequently identified as Shalom Elcott, JFOC president and CEO, and AFI president Sharon Shaoulian. Elcott was seen “getting in the face of” Shaoulian, a third-year student, and screaming at her. As the witness explained, “I did not hear what this man said, but I saw Sharon break into tears,” he recalled.
Shaoulian confirmed that Elcott “advanced on me in a threatening fashion and began screaming at me and berating me” and was “looking down at me two inches away from my face.” He “blamed me..for ‘inciting’ the MSU/SJP to come out to protest,” though the anti-Israel protest happens every year. Elcott allegedly called Shaoulian “derogatory names, a ‘liar’ and a ‘disgrace.’”
Watch these YouTube videos of the UCI iFEST encounter on the FouseSqwakblog:
Here is an excerpt from our NER interview with Shaoulian about the encounter with Elcott at the UCI iFEST Yom Ha’atzmaut clash with MSU and JSP:
You had a recent exchange with the head of the Orange County Jewish Federation. I wonder if you could talk about that and the context in which that exchange occurred?
Sharon Shaoulian: Yes, it happened on April the 23rd, which was a big festival day for AFI during iFEST. Because the Federation, threatened AFI through another student, not to associate with the Zionist Organization of America, my board and I decided that it would be prudent not to ask for a Rose Project Grant and stand more independently on our own.
We were walking towards Shalom Elcott so he heard me pretty much the entire time, and that’s when he started advancing on me. I’m five feet tall, and so he got very close to my face, just centimeters away from my face, peering down, screaming at me in front of everybody. He called me a liar repeatedly, “You’re a liar. You’re a liar. They’re not going to come rush through the event. You’re inciting all of these people.” He told me that I was a disgrace, that the protesters were here because of me, that I caused all of this uproar, and that I should be ashamed of myself.
When he paused, while berating me, I told him, “You know, sir, what you are talking about? They [meaning MSU protesters] are here every single year. They’re not here because of me. They’re here because we’re trying to be pro-Israel on this campus and they won’t stand for that.”
Elcott continued to yell and to make a scene. I flat out told him, “You, sir, you and Rose Project, you didn’t give us any funding for this event. You expressly told your son, Jordan, not to be a part of iFEST. So, with all due respect, why are you even here? You know, if you didn’t want to have a stake in this event, why are you even here at our event?”
He didn’t say anything. He obviously had nothing to say. That’s when I told him. “You know what? You should be ashamed that you’re screaming at me, that you’re yelling at me.” He started recording me. While this was going on, community members were defending me and trying to get him to back away from me. I think a lot of people were nervous about his proximity to me and the level that he was screaming at me. Eventually we were pulled apart. So that’s when Lisa Armony caught what he did and tried to defend the action to my own parents.
Last month, the heads of the Jewish Federation in Orange County reportedly interfered with student celebrations of Yom Ha’atzmaut at University of California at Irvine on behalf of Muslim anti-Israel protesters who sought to ruin the festivities. According to a report of the events at the online FrontpageMagazine, the pro-Israel students separated participants in their event from Muslim student protesters by placing a line of students waving Israeli and American flags between them.
The move was angrily opposed by Federation Director Lisa Armony and Federation President Shalom Elcott. They reportedly insisted that the Israeli flags be taken down because they were “antagonizing” the anti-Israel protesters.
The accusation that we interfered with a Yom Ha’atzmaut [Independence Day] celebration at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) on behalf of anti-Israel protesters is based solely on a recent piece from the online FrontpageMagazine. The blogger relied primarily on unnamed sources and unsubstantiated assertions to paint a misleading picture of the festival, JFFS, and Elcott’s and my activities.
We reject the claims in the article that we told people to stop waving Israeli flags at anti-Israel protesters, claiming that we accept anti-Jewish discrimination on campus and “stand with the (anti-Israel) aggressor against the (Jewish) victim.”
FrontpageMagazine on May 15, 2015 published an editorial castigating Shalom Elcott and Armony for obfuscating what occurred at AFI witnessed by others, “An Attack on Front Page from the Jewish Federation of Orange County.” That was crystallized by the May 4thFPM article suggesting that their interference at the IFEST event and shameful attack on AFI President Shaoulian were an affront to decency and unwarranted. FPM considers JFOC’s defense of its actions calumnious. The FPM editorial concluded:
Without a doubt the JFOC has much to answer for. The JFOC can be assured Frontpage will continue our no-holds-barred coverage of its brazen attacks on Jewish students and pro-Israel activists without apology.
The JFOC alleged defense reminds this writer of J Street’s Orwellian meme of “Pro-Peace, Pro Israel”. But this is nothing new for Elcott and JFOC. This is just the latest example of their nefarious activities on the UCI campus.
Elcott’s interference with Jewish student Zionist activities on the UCI campus amounts to bullying: denial of free speech rights of Shaoulian and fellow AFI members. It amounts to a heckler’s veto equivalent to what occurred in 2010 during former Israeli US Ambassador Oren’s speech at UCI when MSU members shut down his talk. The Elcott and Armony actions at iFEST and subsequent slander of both Glick and FPM does not serve the interests of the Jewish student community at UCI. Ms. Armony’s Jerusalem Post blog post upbraiding Glick and FPM was emblematic of what Dr. Johnson once said about patriotism, the last refuge of a scoundrel. Witness JFOC claiming the mantle of a ‘responsible’ adult leadership on all pro-Israel activities at UCI implying less than adult behavior by Zionist AFI. That is truly topsy turvy chutzpah. The screaming attack by Elcott against Shaoulian demeaning her is not ‘adult behavior’. It is indicative of manifestly deep rooted animus against critics of his leadership at JFOC especially concerned Jewish community supporters of the Jewish Student Zionism of AFI. The JFOC attacks against a colleague, Nonie Darwish, preventing her from speaking at an AFI-sponsored event in 2014, accusing her of being an “Islamophobe are indicative of an out of control leadership at JFOC. It is past time for responsible directors of JFOC to review Elcott’s unacceptable behavior. Perhaps this most recent episode during IFEST at UCI may result in a search for new more effective leadership at JFOC.
More will be revealed about JFOC’s behavior in this latest episode in our interview with Ms. Shaoulian to be published in the June edition of the NER.
https://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/uci-logo-e1431773810143.jpg457640Jerry Gordonhttp://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngJerry Gordon2015-05-16 07:02:382015-05-16 15:41:42Jewish Federation of Orange County undermines Student Zionism at UC-Irvine