OC Jewish Experience

The official blog of Jewish Orange County

UCI Hosts Event on Radical Islam: “Confronting Varieties of Islam”

We have just received word that UCI’s Center for the Study of Democracy, in conjunction with the Program on Religious Studies will be hosting Dr. Hedieh Mirahmadi to speak at the University on Tuesday, October 18th. The title of her talk is “How Should America Confront Radical Islam?” This should make for an interesting event. The event is open to the public and is FREE, so all are welcome to attend.

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October 13, 2011 Posted by | UC Irvine | Leave a comment

Weeklong ‘Green’ Seminar at UC Irvine includes Israel

From OC Metro:

UC Irvine has since Monday been hosting “Empowering Sustainability on Earth,” a weeklong seminar that is part of the UC Irvine School of Social Ecology’s and the Newkirk Center for Science and Society’s “Toward a Sustainable 21st Century” event series. The final presentations and lectures will take place tomorrow.

The seminar has featured an assortment of presentations and lectures that have focused on various ideas about sustainability on a global scale. Some of the many topics include human-induced changes to the environment (with a look at the world’s marine and freshwater resources); the effects of globalization and capitalism on sustainability; and the relationship between religion and sustainability.

The seminar has featured some 70 representatives from 20 countries, including China, India, Russia, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Spain, Israel, Norway and South Africa, among others.

“This is an extraordinary event that we hope will be the first of many,” said John Whiteley, UCI professor of social ecology. “Bringing together this impressive group of young leaders from throughout the world to focus on sustainability, globally and in their own countries, has great potential to make a difference in the future of the environment. We are confident that the participants will learn as much from each other as from the formal presentations.”

 

July 21, 2011 Posted by | Community Events, Israel, Technology, UC Irvine | Leave a comment

Jerusalem Post Reports on the Olive Tree Initiative

 

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.

June 22, 2011 Posted by | Community Events, Diaspora, Israel, Jewish Federation Orange County, Media, Rose Project, UC Irvine, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

UC Irvine students attend Hasbara Fellowships

FOR Immediate Release:

What: Hasbara Fellowships Israel Activism Training for College Students              

When: June 2011

Where: Israel

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

June 18, 2011 Posted by | Diaspora, Hillel, Israel, Jewish Federation Orange County, Media, Rose Project, UC Irvine | Leave a comment

Jonathan Adelman comes to UC Irvine

A new pro-Israel student group, SPME (Students for Peace in the Middle East), is having their second event of the quarter at the UCI. They will be hosting Professor Jonathan Adelman, a renowned scholar in the Middle East, Israel, and Global Economics. The Rose Project of the Jewish Federation & Family Services, Orange County is happy to have provided funding for this new student-led and driven organization and program.

Jonathan Adelman at UC Irvine

April 22, 2011 Posted by | Community Events, Israel, Jewish Federation Orange County, Movement for Peace in the Middle East, Rose Project, UC Irvine, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rose Report in Digital Format

Jewish Federation & Family Services Orange County today published the 2011 Winter Rose Report in a digital format.  This 24-page full-color report details the results of what the Rose Council has achieved.  This includes:

* 174 program grants and student scholarships.

* 363 student opportunities in Israel education, leadership and advocacy programs.

* 16 campus and community bridge building programs

* 160 additional Tagalit-Birthright Israel participants from OC Universities and colleges.

As you can see from above, the report provides a timeline of events, both in Orange County and Israel dating back to 2002. Readers can find additional details on the Rose Project’s support and advancing the Jewish experience on campus, investment in leadership development as well as Israel education, community relations and media advocacy.

In addition, the report also provides a venue for two Orange County leaders to share their viewpoints. Kevin O’Grady, the regional director of Orange County/Long Beach Anti-Defamation League and Jordan Fruchtman, the executive director of Hillel Foundation of Orange County, also weigh in with full-page stories related to “free speech issues on campus campuses.” Additional viewpoints within the report are provided by Elliott Mathias, founder and executive director of Hasbara Fellowships as well as Beth Krom, an Irvine City Council Member.

Shalom Elcott, the President and CEO of Jewish Federation & Family Services Orange County, also sent out a letter to the community, informing them of the publication.

Here is what the letter said:

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to present you with the Winter 2011 digital edition of the Rose Report. Jewish Federation & Family Services launched the Rose Project in 2008 as a community initiative to combat anti-Israel rhetoric on our local university campuses, and to educate and empower our students to become advocates for Israel and the Jewish people.

We are often asked to explain our work in this area and what has been accomplished, and I believe this report will provide you with a clear picture of theprogress made on the ground .

This 24-page report provides an overview of the Rose Project’s strategic objectives and our results to date .  Additionally, the report includes a comprehensive timeline and several articles from our partners in the community and on campus.

Our early success, as a locally-coordinated effort, has implications for communities across the country, wherever anti-Israel activity has emerged or grown, on campus or in the community. We will always stand up to fight anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and any effort to harm Israel, including the reprehensible BDS (Boycott/Divestment/ Sanction) movement.  At the same time, we will always stand up for civil discourse as we foster greater awareness, and allow for difficult conversations to take place in an environment of mutual respect. By working collectively with many key partners in the local and national conversation, we will continue to inspire and empower the next generation of Jewish leadership.

We are most grateful to the investors and leadership of the Rose Project, to the board of directors of Jewish Federation & Family Services, and to our colleagues at Hillel, ADL and AJC. All of these individuals have immersed themselves in countless challenges in our community, investing tremendous time and talent. We all owe them a heartfelt ‘Todah Rabah’ for improving the quality of Jewish student life on our Orange County campuses, and in our community!



March 29, 2011 Posted by | Rose Project, UC Irvine | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Irvine 11 In the News Last Week

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.

From the Jewish Journal

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.

From the Orange County Register

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.

The adage “time flies when you’re having fun” might explain why the two full weeks devoted to bashing Israel on college campuses around the world is known as Israeli Apartheid Week as opposed to say Israeli Apartheid Fortnight. And more people than ever are clamoring to join in the festivities.

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.

According to this Reuters story….

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.

March 13, 2011 Posted by | Media, Muslim Student Union, UC Irvine | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Over Coffee: A UCI Graduate’s Perspective

Yesterday I was at one of Orange County’s best shopping destination:  Fashion Island.  I was sitting outside, enjoying lunch when a mom and daughter plopped down next to me with their dog.  I was speaking in Hebrew at my table when the mom noticed and began to speak with us in Hebrew as well.

It turns out the mom is Israeli and the conversation quickly turned to Jews living in Orange County.  The daughter sitting next to us, with her wavy brown hair and big smile, graduated from UCI last year and is currently working on her acting career in Los Angeles.

When I learned she was an Anteater, I had to ask about her experience at UCI and how much her college experience was influenced by events that have played out in the media.

I have met  many of the active Jewish college students and had never had the pleasure of visiting this woman before.  It was only one opinion but I wanted a perspective from a Jewish student not in the middle of the ruckus during the past two years.

This is what she told me.

Yes, she was aware fo the problems with the Muslim Student Union.  During her college days, she had gone to a few events with Anteaters for Israel (AFI) and spoke kindly of recent graduate Isaac Yerushalmi, an active UCI Jewish student.

Her overall experience during her days at UCI was positive.  She was a drama major and focused her energy at school in this area.  She is a proud Jew and overall gave her experiences at UCI a thumbs up.  She was honest, forthcoming and you could see her mom was proud.

Balance.  It is just one perspective, but another positive experience from a young Jewish adult at UCI.

February 22, 2011 Posted by | UC Irvine | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Media Continues to Focus on UC Irvine

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.

Read the full story

LA TIMES

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

100 UC Irvine Faculty Call on D.A. to Drop Charges Against Students Who Disrupted Israeli Ambassador’s Talk

Jon Wiener, a professor of history at UCI, penned the story that ran for the first time yesterday. Click here for the full story.

DAILY PILOT

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


February 12, 2011 Posted by | Media, Muslim Student Union, UC Irvine | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ACTIONS TO SAFEGUARD CIVILITY at UCI, EVERYWHERE

It has been a while since I’ve posted in this space and my return is timed with the following letter that was sent to me by email this today.  It is from Shalom Elcott, President of Jewish Federation & Family Services.

As we informed you last June, the UCI administration suspended the Muslim Student Union (MSU) and took disciplinary action against the students who participated in the organized disruption of Ambassador Oren’s talk at UCI in February 2010. At that time, we wrote that “we commend the University for this judicious decision in support of free speech and civil discourse…”

Last Friday, the Orange County District Attorney announced that the 11 students arrested at the Oren event were charged with conspiring to disrupt the speech.  The students will be arraigned on March 11th on several misdemeanor counts, and if convicted, could be subject to fines, probation through community service or a jail sentence.

“This case is being filed because there was an organized attempt to squelch the speaker, who was invited to speak to a group at UCI,” District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said in a statement. “These defendants meant to stop this speech and stop anyone else from hearing his ideas, and they did so by disrupting a lawful meeting. This is a clear violation of the law and failing to bring charges against this conduct would amount to a failure to uphold the Constitution.”

So, are criminal charges excessive or warranted?

The disposition of this case is a matter outside of the authority of Jewish Federation & Family Services.   The UCI administration took action according to its charter and its regulations.  The Office of the DA has taken action according to its reading of the Constitution and the laws of the State of California.

We believe that the actions of both the UCI administration and the District Attorney send a strong message to this community — indeed to all communities — that civility must be safeguarded.   We recognize that colleges and universities have always been environments in which difficult (and sometimes confrontational) dialogues take place.  Yet we also believe that if planned, rogue disruptions are allowed to continue without consequences, we will have accomplished nothing despite our best efforts.

Consider this:  At no point in this year-long process has the MSU, its students, attorneys or representatives acknowledged any wrongdoing.  In fact, they have continued to deny it.  There have been no statements of apology or contrition.  Not once has there been an effort, on their part, to reach out and say “We’re sorry.  We blew it.  We’ll do it differently next time.  Let’s talk.”

Consider this as well:  What happened at UCI last February is happening around the country as part of an organized “BDS” (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movement against the legitimacy of Israel and self-determination of the Jewish people.

We say: let this be a teachable moment for all of us!  While the legal process takes its course, let us think about how we can pursue actions for positive change and an improved campus climate.  How we can bring more partners together – both Jews and people of other faiths – to strengthen and improve the student experience at UCI?

The role we play, as community catalyst and convener, is that of bridge-builder.  We seek to build bridges of interfaith understanding, collaboration and respect, on campus and in the community.  Bridges are built when people of differing viewpoints come together in an atmosphere of mutual respect.  When civility is lacking on one side, the bridge crosses only half the river, and we remain apart.

Shabbat Shalom.

Shalom C. Elcott
President and Chief Executive Officer
Jewish Federation & Family Services

February 11, 2011 Posted by | Jewish Federation Orange County, Muslim Student Union, UC Irvine | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments