Ben Hartman of the Jerusalem Post reported on the Olive Tree Initiative, the University of California, Irvine program that has drawn interest from pro-Israel student leaders at the University and controversy within the Jewish community. Student leaders was quoted in the article, along with Jewish Federation CEO Shalom Elcott and Rose Project Co-Chair Jeff Margolis.
Hartman correctly categorizes the initiative as a balanced and educational program without any specific ideological bent with this quote from Yerushalmi:
Almost half of the speakers are Zionist or pro-Israel, some are in the middle and are not affiliated with the Palestinian or Israeli side, [working] with non-partisan NGOs or organizations. It’s a very balanced itinerary, and we’ve always been open to hearing from people who have ideas and additional perspectives
Not included in the article is some excellent news about past Rose Project participants and members of the Olive Tree Initiative, who have just been accepted to several long-term Israel programs, including the Menachem Begin Heritage Center and Israel Government Fellows Program, Magen David Adom (Israel’s Red Cross), Hasbara Fellowships, MASA and more. We are very proud of our students, and they, like Isaac, are doing a service to the greater Orange County community, the Jewish people, and demonstrate the success of Rose-project supported programs.
FOR Immediate Release:
What: Hasbara Fellowships Israel Activism Training for College Students
When: June 2011
UC Irvine Students Chosen for Elite Israel Advocacy Training with Hasbara Fellowships
Students from UC Irvine are taking initiative this summer to get involved with Israel advocacy on their campuses. 4 student leaders from Irvine have been selected to participate in the elite Hasbara Fellowships activism training program in Israel this summer.
The 4 student leaders -Yekaterina Shutaya, Ryan Jenner, Ari Friedman, and David Gutkin of University of California, Irvine will be joining the Hasbara trip this June.
These outstanding students will be among 700 students, the largest contingency ever, from over 60 college campuses nationwide, that Hasbara will be training in Israel advocacy education this summer.
The Irvine students have all received generous sponsorship from the Rose Project in order to participate in the program.
Hasbara Fellowships was founded in 2001 as a partnership between the Foreign Ministry of Israel and Aish International. Ten years ago it became evident that anti-Israel propaganda on college campuses was a force to be reckoned with. Overt displays of anti-Israel sentiment grew into a burgeoning trend on campuses, and so, there was a need for students to stand up for Israel. Since it’s inception in 2001, over 2,000 students have participated in the Hasbara Fellowships Israel Activism Training Program.
Hasbara takes students on an intensive 2-week program with the goal of educating, training, and motivating students to become pro-Israel activists on their campuses as well as teaching the students to effectively combat wide-ranging anti-Israel propaganda.
Participants will hear from an array of historians, journalists, military personnel, politicians, and academics that will offer perspectives on various topics. Students will have the unique opportunity to go on strategic tours of Sderot, Hebron and Israeli borders of Syria and Lebanon. This year, participants will also meet with multiple Israeli members of Knesset, receive top briefings at the Knesset, Israeli Foreign Ministry, and the Jerusalem Post, and visit high-tech start-up companies to learn about Israel’s advancements in alternative energy.
Students will learn how to communicate effectively for Israel, answer difficult questions, and run successful programming upon returning to campus. Participants will receive support from professional Hasbara staff to help facilitate pro-Israel programs. Hasbara Fellows become highly trained Israel activists leading pro-Israel activities back on campus.
Individual students are available for interviews upon request. Please direct all inquiries to Atara Jacobs, Community & Public Relations Coordinator at AJacobs@HasbaraFellowships.org or 201-951-3288
As we start a new week, I thought it was appropriate to take a look back at how we ended the last week. On Friday, the “Irvine 11” had an appointment in Orange County court. The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles reported that the former UC Irvine and UC Riverside students want the Orange County district Attorney removed form the case. The Orange County Register story generated more than 50 comments while the Reuters story says the 11 could face up to six months in jail. A brief recap and links are provided below.
There was no significant judgement made yesterday. The groups will reconvene on the busiest day of the year for many Americans, tax day. The judge in this case, Orange County Superior Court Judge Peter J. Wilson, set a new date of April 15 date for the next hearing.
Here are links to stories filed int he last few days relating to the case. You can clock on the red-face type to read the entire story.
Attorneys representing the Irvine 11 – Muslim college students who face misdemeanor criminal charges over the disruption of a 2010 speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren at UCI – asked a judge to remove the O.C. District Attorney’s office from the case during an arraignment in Santa Ana Superior Court on Friday.
Attorneys for 11 Muslim students facing misdemeanor charges for disrupting the speech of an Israeli diplomat at UCI last year asked a judge Friday to remove the Orange County District Attorney’s Office from the case claiming that prosecutors illegally issued subpoenas and referred to the case internally as the “UCI Muslim Case.”
From an editorial that appeared in the Jerusalem Post on March 10 and tackles the broad picture of free speech. A UCI recap plays prominently in the story.
From the Daily Pilot, who’s headline said:
Protest follows postponement of ‘Irvine 11’ arraignment with a sub-head that proclaimed: Defense attorneys claim the D.A. is trying the group in the media and illegally obtained evidence.
The Irvine 11 face up to six months in jail if convicted of criminal misdemeanor charges of disturbing a meeting and conspiring to do so in connection with their February 2010 demonstration.
The media continues to cover what is going on at UCI on many different fronts. In case you have missed anything in the last few days. From the Huffington Post, to the Washington Post to the Daily Pilot….Here are brief descriptions of the stories with links directly to them.
LA JEWISH JOURNAL
UPDATED: 100 UC Irvine faculty protest criminal charges against Muslim Students
One hundred faculty members at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) have called on Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas to drop criminal charges against 11 current and former students arrested in February 2010 for disrupting a public speech by Michael Oren, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. on the UCI campus. See the full story here.
THE WASHINGTON POST
How to handle the “Irvine 11”? Litigate or negotiate?
A story by Brad Hirschfield. Orange County, CA District Attorney, Tony Rackauckas, is pursuing criminal charges against the so-called “Irvine 11,” the 11 students who planned and executed a major disruption of last year’s speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren at the UC Irvine Campus. And now some 100 members of the University faculty are publicly calling on Rackauckas to withdraw those charges, something he has no intention of doing. Most people are debating which side is right. Full story is here.
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
On Free Speech, ‘Anarchy’, and the ‘Irvine 11′
The Israeli ambassador to the U.S. came to UC Irvine last year for a meeting and to give a speech.
A handful of protesters, well, protested. They shouted down the ambassador, Michael Oren, during his speech and were ultimately escorted away by the police.
In response, the school suspended the Muslim Student Union, which denied having planned the protest. It also reprimanded several students.
Simon Wiesenthal Center supports charges against protesters who interrupted Israeli Ambassador
A leading Jewish organization on Tuesday came out in support of the Orange County district attorney’s decision to file criminal charges against 11 students who interrupted a speech last year at UC Irvine by the Israeli ambassador to the United States. Full story here
THE HUFFINGTON POST
Jon Wiener, a professor of history at UCI, penned the story that ran for the first time yesterday. Click here for the full story.
OverKill in Orange County
Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas’ decision to bring criminal conspiracy charges against 11 UC Irvine students smacks of political posturing. Click here for Full Story
For example, late this afternoon, OC Register College Life reporter Gary Robbins wrote that UC Irvine has retained a crisis management expert to help the university through the current debacle. Alan Hillburg, of Hilburg and Associates has been retained out of Washington D.C. has been named by Robbins as the person that will assist the Anteater administration.
KPCC Radio’s program Airtalk with Larry Mantle covered the recent visit to UCI by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren events. You can click here to listen to the show. Mantle discussed the rights of free speech and how far it should be allowed and he also took sound-bites from the event and used it on the program. Community members called in and voiced their opinion.
“Jewish Leaders Want U.C. Irvine to React Powerfully” is the title of an article written by JTA’s Ben Harris that you might want to click on and read. Shalom Elcott, Chief Executive of Jewish Federation Orange County, is quoted in the article as saying “While it’s nice to condemn hate speech in general, we expect a very specific response from the University of California leadership based on what transpired in that room.”
Another article, published by JWeekly.com, a northern California newspaper (which also ran the JTA article listed above) is calling Oren’s visit “The UC Irvine Debacle” This article begins with…. “News outlets around the world reported on the relentless heckling Oren received during a Feb. 8 speech at U.C. Irvine” — Note to readers, see above — UCI hiring of crisis management expert. It is sad to see the University trashed like this.
I might suggest you also make at least one more visit, to Inside HigherEd. The site that states on its web site that states it is the online source for news, opinion and jobs for all of higher education. The article states “Most higher education leaders welcome vocal protests outside a speaking venue and quiet protest (leaflets, for example) inside, but draw the line at interrupting speakers.”
Two additional stories you may not have seen…..
The OC Register ran one about disciplinary letters sent to UCI protesters from the university office of judicial affairs.
UC Irvine founding Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky penned a new article for the JewishJournal.com titled The Reality of the University of California, Irvine. Make no mistake about where he stands. His opening sentence of the story reads, “The claim that the University of California, Irvine is inhospitable to Jews is so far from reality that one must wonder whether those making the accusation have ever been on the campus or spoken to Jewish students and faculty there.”
There is just not enough room in a blog to mention the hundreds of media stories of interest to Orange County residents. I wish I were mentioning positive events, quieter times. For now, we will work through all of the issues together.