Friday, July 07, 2006

StandWithUs responds to the UCLA Hillel Director

The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles published a shortened version of the the StandWithUs letter to the editor that responded to the op-ed written by the Director of UCLA's Hillel, Rabbi Seidler-Feller's op-ed. (see here for my own take). Since the shortened version cut out a bunch of key information, I'm posting the full version for all to see

In his op-ed (6/23) Rabbi Seidler-Feller mischaracterizes pro-Israel campus activism and ignores its importance and effectiveness. UCLA, in the heart of Jewish Los Angeles, does not always reflect what is happening nationally and internationally. But even at UCLA, students ask StandWithUs for help countering anti-Israel speakers like Norman Finkelstein and Malik Ali who lectured there in May of 2006.

It was activism that has exposed Malik Ali's bigotry and perhaps contributed to the Muslim students apology. Successful student activism occurs all the time, as it did at Concordia University where unchallenged, escalating incitement culminated in a violent anti-Israel riot in 2002. At our international student conference last winter, Concordia's Jewish student leaders reported great improvement because we organized ourselves and got involved in student government. We countered the lies, wrote op-eds, and educated the campus." Their activism made a difference.

The Rabbi's approach certainly can enhance these efforts, but contrary to his charge, activist groups like SWU promote coalition and bridge building as a necessary part of activism. If the pro-Israel/pro peace community abandons activism, it will do so at great risk. Anti-Israel organizations and their funding on far too many campus and reports of biased Professors in the classroom remain strong though the Rabbi minimizes their depth and breadth. Jewish students must continue to counter them with confidence, knowledge, coalition building, and - yes - thoughtful activism as needed.

Roz Rothstein, National Director StandWithUs
Roberta Seid, PhD, Educational Consultant, StandWithUs
Esther Renzer, President, StandWithUs

No comments: