Anti-Semitism at UC Irvine: where is the Jewish leadership?
First published in The Times of Israel
For well over a decade now, pro-Palestinian students on college campuses have turned the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into one of the biggest hot-button topics in our universities. The result has been a campus climate of bullying and intimidation directed against our Jewish students. As a part-time instructor at the University of California at Irvine Extension from 1998-2016, I can testify that UCI has seen its share. The latest outrage at UC Irvine from Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and the Muslim Student Union (MSU), this time aided by the American Indian Student Association, took place May 10. Once again, SJP and their allies acted like storm troopers against a pro-Israel event as the university and campus police stood by and watched. This time, though, everything was caught on video. I took it and made the video available to the university. Keep in mind that SJP had received a letter of warning in May 2016 because of their disruption of a pro-Israel event. What will the university do now against this latest incident of thuggery? Most likely just another warning. How long is the UCI administration going to allow these bully organizations to ruin the school’s reputation before they take decisive action?
In the face of pro-Palestinian intimidation, I have spoken and written endlessly about the complete inaction by UCI and the entire UC system. SJP and MSU periodically destroy the otherwise tranquil atmosphere of UCI where 99% of the students have nothing to do with this ugliness. Yet, the fact is that the administration refuses to enact the necessary measures to protect Jewish students on campus, because they are not willing to confront Muslim students and the lawyers of CAIR waiting to file a lawsuit against them. Worse yet, these anti-semites are given support by far too many radical leftist faculty, in many cases Jews, who find that opposition to Israel fits in nicely with their anti-American bent.
However, as a Christian who has been fighting against campus anti-semitism for more than a decade, I have one simple question: Where is the Jewish leadership in Orange County? Where is the Jewish Federation & Jewish Family Services and UCI Hillel? Maybe they are in the same place they’ve been for the past decade, hiding, while insisting that there is no problem. On May 10, neither Hillel nor the Jewish Federation were present as five Israeli reservists and their audience were subjected to disruption by some 30 thugs yelling their tired anti-semitic Palestinian chants. And even after the incident has been reported globally, where are they? Are they banging on the desk of Chancellor Howard Gillman, demanding to know when he is going to implement the UC Regents statement of principles against intolerance? Don’t hold your breath. We’ve seen the movie before first hand. The fact is that they do not support the efforts of Students Supporting Israel (SSI) at UCI just as they failed to support their predecessor organization, Anteaters for Israel. Frankly, I wonder how many members SSI even has at UCI. I am told that the moderator of last Wednesday’s event is the only member of SSI. What a sad statement.
And where is the Jewish community from Orange County? Where are the people who donate to UCI? Where are the parents of Jewish students at UCI? Do they even care what their children, grandchildren, and other Jewish students who support Israel are subjected to on campus? And where are the rabbis? I’ll tell you where they are. They are holding inter-faith events at places like Temple Bat Yahm (Newport Beach) with their Muslim counterparts, such as the very same imam who has allowed his mosque to be used to assemble the mock “apartheid wall” used at UCI in May during the annual anti-Israel week of events.
As a gentile who admires Israel and the Jewish people, and who fights vigorously against antisemitism, I find it excruciatingly frustrating to find so few Jewish allies on campus. How many times have I gone alone into these pro-Palestinian events and challenged speakers like Amir Abdel Malik Ali, George Galloway and others while groups like Hillel and the Jewish Federation told Jewish students to stay away and stand down? Twice as I stood eyeball to eyeball with Ali after his speeches—and his MSU followers stood by looking menacing—I thought to myself, “Where are the Jews? Why isn’t the head of the Jewish Federation or Hillel or the ADL standing here with me?” The fact is that for years, both the Jewish Federation and Hillel slapped down any Jewish student who dared to speak out and fight back. Their tactic is the same tactic used by the Judenrat, the Jewish Councils of Nazi Germany, leaders who thought that by keeping a low profile it would all go away.
Ten years ago, when Jewish students complained about anti-semitic harassment at UCI, it took a small group of concerned Jewish community members to establish the Orange County Independent Task Force on Anti-Semitism. The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) joined them, and a complaint was lodged with the Office of Civil Rights, U.S Department of Education. Unfortunately, it eventually failed for incomprehensible reasons.
Until the Jewish community and their leadership decide to publicly back the pro-Israel students and place serious pressure upon UCI, the problem will continue to get worse, until, God forbid, a student on campus gets killed. The same can be said about other universities across the country.
In the meantime, all I can do is continue to do what I have been doing for the past ten years. At least when a tragedy happens at UC Irvine, blood will not be on my hands.
Gary Fouse is a retired criminal investigator with the Drug Enforcement Administration, and he was with the Office of Training at the FBI Academy, in Quantico, Virginia. Fouse taught English as a second language for 18 years at UC Irvine Extension (1998-2016). He has written several books, including “Erlangen-An American’s History of a German Town,” “The Story of Papiamentu—A Study in Slavery and Language,” and “The Languages of the Former Soviet Republics—Their History and Development,” all published by University Press of America. He writes his own blog Fousesquawk.