Home January 2011 Asking the Questions

Asking the Questions

Debates have always been part of the college environment, and students have always been encouraged to look at both sides of a given issue.  When the issue is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the venue is UCI and the ability to fire off a response is instantaneous, the methods of handling such a debate are going to be questioned.  Recent events in Orange County have shown that the debate over how to handle the debate is almost as emotionally charged as the debate itself.

Is there an appropriate way to introduce students to both sides of the issue?  Is there moral equivalency?  Is there indoctrination of impressionable young minds?  Are Jewish community dollars involved?  People in the community are asking questions and demanding due diligence, and community leaders are providing answers and vowing vigilance about a program called the Olive Tree Initiative.

Nearly four years ago, the Olive Tree Initiative was created as a student-driven bridge-building mechanism.  According to the organization’s website, “In March 2007 a diverse group of UCI students from Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Druze and non-religious backgrounds with varying perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict founded the Olive Tree Initiative. The students were inspired to create a forum where they could discuss and learn about their different perspectives on the situation in Israel/Palestine and to embark on an educational trip to the region.”

Since that time there have been three trips to Israel and the West Bank, during which students and accompanying faculty met with academics, politicians, religious authorities, community leaders and activists and learned about their perspectives on the conflict.  The participants have shared their experiences and insights in forums on and off campus and brought guest speakers to the UCI campus.

As Daniel Wehrenfennig, Ph.D., director of the Olive Tree Initiative, explained, “Polarized presentations that had been happening on the campus didn’t match up with realities.  Most speakers who came to UCI were Americans with strong positions on one side or the other, but the points made were not necessarily important to the people on the ground living in the conflict.  To start an effective engagement, it has to be non-partisan, and it has to come from the students, not outside organizations.”

Since the organization was student-run and not funded by the university, students needed to do fundraising for the trips.  Jewish students approached Jewish Federation Orange County (now part of Jewish Federation & Family Services), while other students sought resources from other organizations.

Jewish Federation Orange County developed the Rose Project to address the challenging issues at UC Irvine and on other university campuses in Orange County.  The purpose is to ensure that students on Orange County university campuses and community leaders are informed about issues of Jewish life and Israel, that they are deeply educated on the facts and the myths and that they are fully engaged in positive advocacy for Israel and in dealing with challenges that emerge.  The Rose Project also seeks to facilitate respectful dialogue and shared learning amongst different constituents on campus and in the community.

“The Rose Project gets its funding from private donors who donate through Jewish Federation & Family Services, and none of the money comes through the general fund of Jewish Federation & Family Services,” explained Jeff Margolis, who serves on the Rose Project Advisory Council and the Hillel Advisory Board.

Margolis added, “The Rose Project provides scholarships or financial support for Jewish students participating in the Olive Tree Initiative.  Because we contribute money to send students, we’re able to have a dialogue on the Olive Tree Initiative trip itinerary and make suggestions and adjustments.”

The idea behind the funding, according to Shalom Elcott, CEO of Jewish Federation & Family Services, was to be able to send “bright, capable students who could speak and hold their own” and to “open doors to movers and shakers in Israel who needed to meet with the group.”  The Rose Project, he said, was created to organize, fund and support Jewish life on campus, to promote advocacy, bridge building and improved relations with the university.  In addition to paying for student trips through the Olive Tree Initiative, the Rose Project funds student trips to AIPAC conferences and programs from Hasbara, Stand with Us, Israel Coalition on Campus and Birthright, brings lecturers and speakers to local campuses, funds a full-time Israeli professor on campus and pays for a full-time campus shaliach, or emissary to Israel.

According to Margolis, the Rose Council “respects all opinions” and wants to “read, listen, learn, adapt and consider constructive points of view.  He said that the organization is based on “forceful equanimity,” and it does listen to all sides.  On the other hand, it does not believe in “moral equivalency with those who seek Israel’s destruction, but we feel that it’s important for Jewish students to see how these points of view get set up and expressed and how they operate.”

Elcott added that the Olive Tree Initiative has served to “bring people of other faiths to the table.”  It has provided perspective to people of all faiths, including Muslim students who said they had a better understanding of the Israeli point of view after the trips.

According to Isaac Yerushalmi, a UCI alumnus and one of the original student participants in the Olive Tree Initiative, the program is “one of the most exceptional educational initiatives around. Besides providing participants with an unparalleled first-hand understanding of the complexities and nuances that exist in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the initiative is breaking positive ground on campus as well. For once, we are seeing positive relations between Jewish and Muslim students on campus. We are seeing a growth in the number of Jewish and Muslim students who apply pragmatism to the Israeli-Palestinian situation in their conversations on campus, and we are actually beginning to see Jewish and Muslim students work together on joint projects.”

Sometimes, the Olive Tree Initiative brings speakers from both sides of the issue to campus at the same time. Recently, David Makovsky, senior fellow and director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at The Washington Institute, and Ghaith Al-Omari, advocacy director at the American Task Force in Palestine (ATFP), joined forces to talk to UCI students.  In Al-Omari’s words, they wanted to “bring a message of moderation to campus to counter the rhetoric,” while Makovsky said, “We’re both centrists but coming from different directions.  When we take that message to students together, we have impact.”

The two men are “looking for synergies,” as Makovsky put it, while Al-Omari talked about Palestinians “taking a page from the Israelis and building hospitals and universities.”  While both men acknowledged that it would be hard for both sides to agree on certain issues, it made sense for Israelis and Palestinians to cooperate on economic and infrastructure issues that benefit the whole region.

At other times, campus speakers sponsored by the Olive Tree Initiative have been less appealing to members of the Jewish community, and such an instance sparked the recent debate.  In November International Solidarity Movement cofounder George Rishmawi spoke at UCI.  While Rishmawi has allegedly broken his ties with that organization, which is said to be “vehemently anti-Israel,” community activists, including Dee Sterling, wrote letters to Jewish Federation & Family Services to ask for “due diligence.”

Sterling, who had been a board member of Hillel, expressed concerns that the Jewish community appeared to be sponsoring a speaker who was a founder of an anti-Israel organization that promotes violence.  She raised the issues of Federation funding of students participating in the Olive Tree Initiative and of Hillel having a Facebook posting encouraging students to attend the lecture.

A response from Jewish Federation & Family Services claimed that the OTI speaker was George S. Rishmawi as opposed to a George N. Rishmawi, saying that the latter was a “despicable character,” and the former was someone who had recently cut ties with the ISM.  However, Sterling said that the students who went on the Olive Tree Initiative trips met with both Rishmawis.

“I am concerned that the students are meeting with seasoned anti-Israel veterans,” Sterling said.  “I have not seen peace break out in the Middle East, and I have not seen peace break out on campus.”

Sterling believes that funding for the Olive Tree Initiative should not come from Jewish philanthropic donors, although they are private donors.  She insists that the Federation needs to do due diligence on speakers that students encounter.  Finally, she thinks that “Jewish students should be taking a stand,” even if it just means waving Israeli flags when anti-Israel speakers are on campus.

While other organizations, including the Wiesenthal Center and Stand with Us, initially criticized the choice of Rishmawi as a speaker, Elcott said that most of the feedback he received on the Rose Project’s relationship with the Olive Tree Initiative was positive.  Organizations, including the Israeli Consultate, expressed the belief that students need to learn as much as they can, he said, and he believes that the students are up to the challenge of distinguishing fact from propaganda.  Furthermore, he said, “The Olive Tree Initiative understands that it needs the support of the Jewish community, and it may need to change the itinerary.”

“The Rose Project supports the concept of the Olive Tree Initiative with an eye toward continual improvement,” Margolis said.  “We’re proud to have this kind of bridge-building program in our community.”

Olive Tree Initiative Guest Speakers, Fall 2010

October 12 – Professor Paul Arthur, director of the Graduate Program in Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Ulster in Northern Ireland

October 21 – Marquez Equalibria, Conciliation Specialist, Community Relations Service (CRS) at the U.S. Department of Justice

October 27 – Professor Menachem Hofnung, UCI visiting professor from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

November 9 – One Voice Student Activists from Israel/Palestine visited UCI Irvine and met with OTI group (and presented in classes)

November 22 – George S. Rishmawi, Coordinator, Siraj Center for Holy Land Studies, Beit Sahur/Bethlehem

November 29 – Marcella Khelif, Director, Center for International Education, UCI

December 1 – David Makovsky, Ziegler Distinguished Fellow and Director of the Middle East Peace Process at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and Ghaith al-Omari, Advocacy Director at the American Task Force on Palestine

December 6 – Yuli Edelstein, Israeli Minister for Public Affairs and the Diaspora

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15 COMMENTS

  1. I just received this month’s issue of OC Jewish Life in my mailbox today and I was thrilled to see OTI featured as the cover story. I am 43 years old and about 4 years ago – arising from my own lack of understanding about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – I went on my own “quest”; reading history books, blogs, and listening to activist groups from both sides. The activist groups were all so monolithic in character, they left me questioning at best, and deeply disturbed and offended at worst. And then I heard about the students at UCI and the Olive Tree Initiative. That was 2007 and the students were preparing for their first trip to the region. The students insisted that it was not a “peace mission” nor was it for the purpose of “reconciliation” – they were going only to seek their own (as individuals) deeper understanding of the region and the conflict beyond what we hear in the media and the rhetoric of the activist groups… how refreshing! What the students learned and shared with us after they returned was some of the most thoughtful and honest reporting I’d ever heard. Since then, I have been to a few other events hosted by OTI where I got to hear speakers from Israel & Palestine. I am glad the community is demanding due diligence, as you say, but I also hope that OTI will be able to continue and expand their work without the community becoming a hindrance to said work. OTI is a much needed resource for us and for future generations. And thank you, Ilene Schneider, for your thorough coverage on the subject.

    • Laura Kerr exemplifies the use of term “useful idiot.” Mazen Qumsiyeh is touring Germany right now and telling audiences that the Jews assisted the Holocaust to found ISrae, and that 12 million “Palestinians” were made refugees by Israel in 1948. Both of these canards are spoken to unknowing audiences of college students the same as the OTI . Qumsiyeh has spoken and elctured to each OTI trip since 2008 and is like RIshmawi intimately involved with the ISM. Can you show me one case where OTI students were lectured to come back and say Israel even has a right to exist or that the Hamas charter calls for murdering all Jews?
      The entire program is designed to sell the Palestinian narrative (mostly lies) of “occupation” of stolen land by Jews who must create one single Arab dominated state in its place.

  2. If one wre to read the above article and not understand the history of the Palestinian movement, the ISM, George Rishmawi, OTI and Daniel Wehrenfening then one might believe that the OTI is a wonderful educational experience promoting peace. That is the intentional illusion of those who wish to dismantle Israel as a Jewish state. Mr. Rishmawi, as a co-founder of the ISM, knows the tactics of deception used by the ISM whose manuals tell activists who are human shields for terrorist groups to say they are “peace activists” and “human rights workers” to deceive their enemies.

    Mr. Rishmawi years ago in Pasadena started an ISM program called Altrnative Tourism to carry forth such deception. His program, in order to bring ISM activists over to the West Bank and Gaza, orignally had those activists pose as “tourists” to lie their way past Israeli border control to enter the country and the West Bank and riot in places like Bilin and Gaza. The ISM manual explained how to lie one’s way into the country with the help of Israeli radical “peace” groups, many affilaited with Israel’s communist party whose platform calls for the end of the Zionist (Jewish) state and calls for an Arab dominated one along the lines of the model proposed by George Habash’s terrorist PFLP. I wrote about this for years as a journalist. Alternative Tourism was the scam used by two British/Pakistani terrorists who entered Israel as tourists through the Allenby entrance, met with the ISM in Gaza then blew up Mike’s Place in Israel as suicide bombers killing three and wounding 50.

    When the tourism ruse was exposed, Rishmawi began sending ISM activists over posing as journalists.
    After I alerted the former GPO Director Daniel Seaman to that practice the Shin Bet began deporting more ISM activists who used that ruse to enter Israel, go to the West Bank and riot and interfere with the IDF in counter terror operations as well as engage in untruthful propaganda against the Jewish state. After that was excposed, the next ruse by Rishmawi was to create a phony exchange student scenario whereby “students” who were really ISM activists would get into Israel as exchange students at Bethlehem University (heavily funded by the PLO) to allegedly study Arabic. Those students would in fact study Arabic one day a week, the other four being spent doing ISM anti-Israel activities in the West Bank including fomenting riots every Friday in Bilin against the Security Fence.

    The OTI project is another Rishmawi/ISM deception claiming to seek reconciliation, but serving two purposes: 1) To get secular, unknowledgeable Jewish-American students over to the West Bank and propagandize them about the Catastrophe (Nakba in Arabic) of Israel’s creation, the idea that the Jews stole land from Arabs 2) To give the impression that the totalitarians of the PLO and Hamas are really a social liberation movement and not terrorist groups who for 60 years who have been seeking the destruction of the Jewish national homeland and 3) that they are promoting peace by helping an organization that is a front for Jew killers and that promotes divestment and boycott to starve the Jews out.

    Daniel Wherenfening is part of this deception. He has promoted boycott and divestment from Israel. That means starving Jews out of existence in a newly disguised Arab League boycott. The American Task Force for Palestine that recently visited UCI in the interest of dialog promotes the end of Israel, not through reconciliation but through the right of return as non-negotiable which claims that any Arab whose dead ancestors allegedely lived in pre 1948 Israel has the unconditional right to go and live on the very same spot as his dead ancestors. The idea is to make a Catch 22 to overrun Israel with Arabs and overwhelm the Jewish population demographically to destroy the Jewish state. The OTI project over in the Holy Land allows the Arab side to indoctrinate Jewish students from the US with the idea that Israel is an “apartheid state” when it is the only state in the region that does not practive apartheid. In fact, the Arabs at the same time promote that Jewish communities in the West Bank be closed down so that Palestine can be Jew-free, which is the real apartheid. Makovsky, who is supposed to represent the Israeli point of view is an adherent of the Israeli leftist camp idea that is aligned with the radical left in Israel that wants Israel to cease being a Jewish state and becoming along the lines of the secular PFLP model. The website http://www.ISRACAMPUS.org.il
    is an excellent example of Israel’s academic fifth column that pushes the Palestinian narrative ( a false narrative of liberation and human rights that promotes Jewish extinction and Arab irredentism and anti-Semitism). In short, the dialog, or “debate” between these two men is a stacked deck against Israel, a “dialog” designed to deceive campus Jewish youth at Irvine and anyone else possible.

    From 2003 to 2007 I attended undercover national conferences in the USA on college campuses put on by the ISM. At these conferences there were seminars where it was explained by Arab activists that US support by American Jews was what kept Israel in existence and that to destroy the Jewish state it would become necessary to deconstruct among young naive secular American Jews their innate support of the Jewish state. I laughed under my breath when I first heard this but projects such as the OTI are precisely that program brought to fruition. Jewish students who have returned from OTI in Israel have demonstrated and called for boycotting Israel after being put through a program that casts Israel as evil and a denier of human rights. I also exposed how the ISM used (and still uses) Birthright to get ISM activists over to the Holy Land at Jewish expense to riot and work for the end of a Jewish state. The head of the ISM at Duke University (a woman from Hiwar) went there on Birthright to promote against Israel over there and on her return the end of Israel when a simple google search could have shown Birthright who she was. That is what the OTI is.

    Dee Sterling is a courageous woman who has been personally smeared by the “professional Jews”in the Federation and Hillel who have been duped to follow the ISM’s game plan. Rishmawi claims he quit ISM but the ISM is not a card carrying organization with a board that one resigns from. It is an umbrella organization modeled after the Comintern and Lech Walesa’s Soldiarity Movement, designed to have many arms like an octopus so if one arm is cut off the others continue to function. Some Federation leaders may
    think they are promoting peace by promoting Rishmawi’s OTI, but they are promoting a deceptive marketing campaign by Palestinian groups to try and undermine the next generations of young American Jews against a Jewish state. By suggesting the goal is really “peace,” these professional Jews fund a program so that these young Jews then begin to “understand” the idea of ending Israel’s being a Jewish state in favor of Palestine that will be dominated by Muslims and pan-Arabist Christian Arabs to the detriment of Israel’s Jewish population.

    The Federation insists they are only dialoging and making peace or dialog and are afraid to admit they are being suckered by the Arabs to fund with Jewish money anti-Israel activities by anarchists and Arabs to destroy Israel, something that would leave to much egg on their faces and not justify their salaries. Hence they fight tooth and nail to destroy the reputation of Ms. Sterling.

    At those ISM conferences, anarchists of Jewish ancestry (with little or no knowledge of Judaism)
    also held seminars on how to infiltrate American Jewish organizations to promote the Arab narrative against the Jewish state also and use Jewish funding for that purpose. To that effect, certain elements in Hillel and the Federation may also be infiltrators which may explain a falsified petition attacking Ms. Sterling that was disseminated by these Jewish organizations that was forged by some of these Jewish “leaders.”

    Yes, there are “Jews” who are leftists and want Israel to be an non-Jewish country. Some even support Hamas and Hezbollah despite those terrorist groups advocating the extermination of world Jewry. Some do it naively thinking they are supporting “peace” and some do it because they are fooled, and some do it because they are anarchists or good communists in their minds. But Jewish money should not go toward that subterfuge. That is the Olive Tree Initiative. The Jewish community in Orange County ows Ms. Sterling an apology and should cut off funding for Rishmawi’s newest deception. Most of the advocates for continuing Jewish funding of OTI do not support a Jewish state. This is why the Simon Wiesenthal Center and ZOA support Ms. Sterling as do I. The Holocaust saw the Judenrat and the Jewish Police aid the Nazis in destroying the Jewish people, the OTI is only a more sophisticated realization of an old tactic against the Jewish people and the Jewish Federation and Hillel must stop burying their heads in the sand and promoting it or funding it. People may contact me for more information: leekaplan@dafka.org

    BTW, if anyone doubts my expertise on this, a new report on the ISM by the Amit Counter Terrorism Center in Israel, information that even gets used by the Knesset relating to security matters, cites me as an expert on the ISM. George Rishmawi, a co-founder of this pro-terror group is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and there is no reason why Jewish organizations should treat our young Jews as sheep for the slaughter.

    One last thing: Projects like OTI are ostensibly for Jewish youth to get “both perspectives” about the Israeli Palestinian conflict. As with the Birthright Program, there is no way to verify that perspective “Jewish” youth are going over there at Jewish expense. Adam Shaprio, one of Rishmawi’s co-founders of the ISM told me in an interview in 2003 that because of this, non-Jewish anarchists routinely told Jewish organizations they were Jewish for the free ride. The OTI is no doubt also used by non-Jewish ISM activists in this same manner. Nobody checks for Jewish ancestry or to see if someone is circumcised. When you think about it, it’s a brilliant subterfuge for the Arabs–Jewish money to pay for the ultimate destruction of a Jewish state,
    for that is the goal of the OTI. These ISM anarchists can go over there, then come back to UCI and claim they are Jews enlightened to the goals of the PLO and Hamas and encourage other young Jews to boycott or not support the Jewish state. This is the reality, and the puff piece above will not change these facts.

  3. Regarding comments by Laura Kerr on this article. Ms. Kerr is a supporter of Al Quds University in
    the Palestinian Authority. Readers can see this here: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:E1S27T6y85YJ:www.fqms.org/list.php+Laura+Kerr+%2B+Palestine&cd=7&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

    While this in itself might look innocent enough, this is the reality of Al Quds University no matter how much kumbaya talk the OTI might put out:
    http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/25 and http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Qv-fTZuhbHYJ:www.actforamerica.com/index.php/learn/recent-news/10-newsmaster/221-brandeis-universitys-partnership-with-hamas-linked-al-quds-university-underwritten-by-ford-foundation+Al+Quds+university+%2B+terrorism&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

    Al Quds is also a bastion for Hamas. Ms. Kerr may not know this and maybe is just duped. However, she is an example of the result of the type of deception put out by Rishmawi and the Olive Tree Initiative.

    Lee Kaplan

  4. Laura Kerr it’s clear that before you can start making decisions on whether or not the OTI is helping helping our students, you should continue to read up on your history of Israel and the Arab-Israeli Conflict. “I have been to a few other events hosted by OTI where I got to hear speakers from Israel & Palestine.” I find it curious how you were able to hear from speakers from PALESTINE when no such country exists. It’s not acceptable or appropriate for someone who has little knowledge of the Arab-Israeli Conflict to comment on such a hotly debated subject especially when you ignore the readily available evidence disproving your position.

  5. Apparently commenters on this blog know something that Yuli Edelstein, Israeli Minister for Public Affairs and the Diaspora, does not. Interesting how the Israeli ministry works with Al-Quds university, and the president of Al-Quds university has publicly declared his support against the boycott movement.

    I guess this generation of “Lee Kaplans” just needs to let go and let the new generation have peace.

    The Jewish Students at UC Irvine are tired of these extreme right-wing “fear mongers” that are against any interaction with Muslim students. We are in their classes, we work on projects with them, we study with them, we have lunch with them. Not every Muslim student is a supporter of the anti-Israel movement.

    Something OTI has accomplished is a unique friendship and partnership between Zionists and pro-Palestinians. It’s because of this that Mark Regev, spokesperson for the Prime Minister of Israel, called OTI “the most well-educated student group” on the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

    Step aside Lee Kaplan, this is our campus.

    • Joe Student lacks the manners or knowledge to understand that even certain bureaucrats in the Foreign Ministry and members of the Israeli left who are unaware of the facts on the ground regarding the ISM and activities of the OTI frequently fall for the ruse that “peace” is being propagated by Arab interests when such programs are in fact designed to promote the end of the Jewish state. Mark Regev has in the past conversed with ISM flotilla activists like Paul LaRudee who he thinks are genuine “peace activists” when they are were in fact human shields for Hamas and Hezbollah. Incredibly, the Foreign Ministry has forced the Government Press Office to issue a public apology for disseminating the We Con the World video that Latma produced about the Gaza flotilla
      because some bureaucrats in the FM thought the ISM was a peace movement. See:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOGG_osOoVg
      I got LaRudee deported from Israel in 2006 when he entered under a false ID to aid Hamas. Deported, he subsequently went to Lebanon as a human shield for Hezbollah during the 2006 war.
      La Rudee supports the OTI project like Joe Student.

      I am far from a “right wing fear monger” and have seven years of hard research about the ISM including attending their training sessions and obtaining their manuals about how to fool students like Joe Student into thinking they are encouraging “peace” when pushing Arab irrdentist goals. My research has been cited by the Amit Counterterrorism Center in Israel, an impartial NGO on security matters.

      An example of how young suckers like Joe Student only make matters worse for Israel and the campus Jewish community that only encourages endless war instead of peace by falling for such subterfuge is Sari Nusseibeh, who Joe Student cites in his criticism of me. It is true Nusseibeh is opposed to the boycott for the same reason he has stated he is opposed to suicide bombings; his opposition, he says, is not because he thinks they are wrong or kill Jews, but rather because they are ineffective at destroying Israel and developing world antipathy against the Jewish state.

      Nusseibeh was caught spotting for SCUD missiles by phone for Saddam Hussein during the First Gulf War to have them drop on Israeli citizens. He was sentenced to only 10 months and deported, and very stupidly allowed to return to Al Quds University. Aryeh Elded of the Knesset who read the Shin Bet report on this man says he should have been sentenced to 10 years hard time. Al Quds University that he heads is a bastion for Hamas too. See:
      http://mefacts.org/cached.asp?x_id=11323
      and http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/25
      and http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/21
      and http://www.campus-watch.org/article/id/1106

      And Joe Student puts his faith in such a man…heaven help the Jewish community.

      UC Irvine is my university too, young man, as I am a California taxpayer for the last 40 years and a graduate of the UC system. That Irvine campus has a reputation as one of the most anti-Semitic in the US and continually invites anti-Semites to speak there like Abdul Malik Ali. George Rishmawi of OTI is a co-founder of the ISM who has used the phony “peace activist” ploy (taught in the ISM training manuals written by Huwaida Arraf) for years. Getting Jewish Federation money as part of the ruse is a major pay off. Let the Arabs present their false narrative on their own dime.

      As for your discussions with your Muslim friends on campus: Ask them if Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state and ask them if they are willing to renounce the Arab Right of Return within Israel’s Green Line. I guarantee they will say no to each question. Then read the Hamas Charter that calls not only for the complete destruction of Israel, but calls for the annihilation of all the world’s Jews. That Charter is supported by Rishmawi and the ISM who work every angle they can to
      indoctinate silly Jewish boys like Joe Student that Israel should not be supported by them. It’s all part of the long term plan to dismantle a Jewish state. It is precisely because of the “new” generation of young Jews who do not know the history or the finer Arab tactics of destroying Israel that OTI has been able to use Jewish funding to push a program to de-legitimize Israel. Be thankful for the righteous Jews like Dee Sterling who will alert the Jewish community of this subterfuge and not be taken in like Joe Student. Israel has been talking to its Arab citizens and enemies for decades and doesn’t need a naive “student” like to tell her how to make peace with them; “Joe Student” points out precisely why the OTI, Rishmawi and the ISM pose a threat at UC Irvine.

      Out of the mouths of babes comes drool…

  6. Joe Student (AKA Matan),
    The fact that you call it the Israeli-Palestinian conflict instead of the Arab-Israeli conflict shows just how ignorant you are of the actual situation.

    Additionally, you may want to back off saying you speak for all Jewish students, as many of your fellow Jewish students are scared, have been subjected to hatred, and have been harassed. You should be supporting them, not helping to perpetuate a climate in which they are not only fearful of the harassment coming from some Muslims, but full of fear to speak out because of their fellow Jews.

  7. What this article does not reflect is the great service Dee Sterling has done for the community and for American Jews by having the courage to take a stand and speak the truth about the OTI. As a result she has been vilified by the Orange County Jewish Federation and Hillel. Hilel has even sent out a petition ostensibly signed by nearly 100 students, which they have admitted was largely falsified, with the students names added without their permission or knowledge.

    I have no doubt that the Jewish Federation of Orange County and Hillel initially supported the OTI believing it would be good for the community. Now that the OTI has been conclusively shown to be an organization that arranges for Jewish students to meet with anti-Israel activists, with the aim of enlisting their support for the enemies of Israel, I would hope that the leaders of the Jewish Federation of Orange County and Hillel would have the courage and integrity to admit they had made a mistake and withdraw their support and funding on the OTI.

    They have been asked to withdraw their support by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, ZOA and Stand With Us, as well as Rabbi’s and leading academics. They have chosen not to attack these leading organizations but have preferred to slander and attack a member of the community who has integrity and is prepared to be attacked by the leading Jewish Organisations if that is the price of stating the truth.

    Please can the leaders of the Orange County Jewish Community show they are big enough people to accept they have made a mistake and issue an apology to the Orange County Jewish Community and to Dee Sterling.

  8. This is a terrific issue for the Jewish community. The entire country should be watching. We need controversy such as this to cause Jews to focus on the danger in our midst.

    Thank G-d for brave folks such as Dee and Lee who willingly stick their necks out without regard for popularity. Ad-homonym attacks against them are shameful.

    Regardless of one’s OTI viewpoint, last year’s Gaza flotilla fiasco opened up Jewish eyes to the degree of Israel hatred and the extent to which her enemies will go to poison world opinion. Once your eyes are open, a decision is upon you.

    It is absolute folly and dangerous for Israel’s existence for us to continue pretending we are not in an information war. The consequences of losing this war are no less for Israel than the consequences were for Germany’s Jews to not fight back against the Nazi propaganda machine. Think about a ‘Tipping Point.’

    As a consequence of this more recent awareness, we Jews must now confront the blind hatred and/or ignorance possessed by world media and too many of the world’s so called ‘progressives,’ Jews have few choices. Either one ignores the dangerous truth, forgets history again and buries their heads in the sand or we realize we must get active, stand up for truth and fight back. Complacency is deplorable when one knows our history.

    In addition, I suggest that you not continue waiting for organizations whose mission is not specifically designed to defend Israel, to win this information war. Many of their donors, who set their agendum, are frequently moved by noble progressive causes and are ignorant to M.E. realities. They are not necessarily prepared to outwardly support an unpopular cause such as Israel defending her people. Don’t forget as any country fighting for her survival, Israel’s hands are not pristinely clean.

    Therefore it is up to us to organize and engage the enemy in our midst whose stated missions are a one state solution. Don’t be fooled they disguise themselves. To win, we need your involvement. Paraphrasing the Hillel proverb, “If not you, who? If not now, when?” Your children and grandchildren will be judging you. Have we learned from history or not? No more pretending, it is no longer a grey issue, a propaganda war is in our face. The only remaining salient question is whether you choose to engage or not?

    Advocates for Israel

  9. On March 2, the Committee for Justice in Palestine at UC Santa Cruz is hosting a hip hop concert featuring Brtitish rapper Lowkey among others who support the Palestinian cause. Lowkey will undoubtedly perform his hit, Obama-Nation, which defames the US, our military, our national anthem and president. Guess who will have information tables at the event. Jewish Voice for Peace and the Olive Tree Initiative. If you go to the Committee for Justice at Palestine Facebook page, you can see for yourselves. In addition, Students for Justice in Palestine is hosting the same rappers at UCI on March 1.

  10. For Karen Green
    Re: Heather’s Eggs, Vegetable, Cheese Casserole……will this work with “Eggbeaters”? If yes, how much Eggbeaters?
    Thank you!
    Shalom
    Alice Strauss

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