Monday, October 16, 2006

NewU: Hillel Hopes To End Campus Conflicts

Alex Chazen is for playing nice with the MSU. If the MSU played nice with us, I'd be all for it - but they continue to bring anti-Semites on campus. Did Alex somehow miss Amir Abdel Malik Ali's multiple visits at the beginning of the quarter?

And now there's an event co-sponsored by the MSU and Hillel? (read below) What the heck is Rabbi Steinberg of Shir HaMa'alot doing sitting on the same stage as Sadullah Khan, who considers one of the Three Big Lies to be "Zionism is essential to Judaism"?

Hey Alex: is the MSU planning on holding another annual Anti-Zionism Week this coming May? If the answer to that question is anything but "no", what the are you doing even talking with them?

Somebody please slap Alex upside the head...

Features
Hillel Hopes to End Campus Conflicts
By Nadia Osman

UC Irvine’s Jewish Student Union, Hillel, has often been in the spotlight over the past few years because of intermittent clashes with the Muslim Student Union.

“I think that anyone who knows the delicate balance between the MSU and Hillel on campus knows that there are issues between our groups that need to be resolved,” said Alex Chazen, a third-year political science major and president of Hillel.

Chazen hopes to work this year to address these conflicts.

“Instead of avoiding past conflicts, I would love to confront and resolve these conflicts,” Chazen said. “I feel that it is important for people of all faiths to work together. There is so much common ground between the two religions, yet there is such an unwilling attitude to come together and partner in religious education.”

Hillel provides both a social and religious outlet for Jewish students at UCI. Hillel’s goals include increasing the comfort level of Jewish students on campus and creating a positive Jewish experience for its members.

“A very high percentage of people in this country believe in a god of some sort, and it doesn’t make sense for faith-based organizations to have feuds like the one that Hillel and MSU appear to have,” Chazen said.

Chazen is even willing to settle the feud by having a face-to-face meeting with MSU officers and members.

“I am most definitely willing to have a face-to-face meeting,” Chazen said. “I’ll do it in person. I’ll do it over the phone. I’ll do it over e-mail. I’ll do it on KUCI. I think it’s important that we sit and talk in a nonconfrontational manner. If this can be done, I believe it will be a giant step forward for our two groups on campus.”

One step forward is about to be taken as MSU and Hillel host “Religious Diversity: An Interfaith Dialogue,” their first cosponsored event on Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. in HIB in partnership with the Cross-Cultural Center.

The program will feature two panelists, Sudallah Khan, executive director of religious affairs at the Islamic Center of Irvine, and Rabbi Richard Steinberg of the congregation Shir Ha-Ma’a lot.

Chazen is unsure of what lasting effects the program will have.

“I fear that with the exception of our cosponsored program there will be little dialogue, just as there has been in the past,” Chazen said.

Naz Farahdel, second-year social ecology major and vice president and social chair of Hillel, said, “I don’t know how much talks can solve problems, but I know that if done right, with a chance for both sides to speak, then they are a step towards helping.”

Aside from the group’s intermittent involvement in controversy, Hillel has plenty of other things to offer UCI and the community at large. In the past month, Hillel has celebrated the two holiest Jewish holidays, Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana.

To honor these holidays, Hillel held widely attended services at the Bren Events Center for the second year in a row. The services included festival meals for both holidays, with a meal before and after the 25-hour fast on Yom Kippur, along with spiritual services.

In addition to celebrating the holy days, Hillel hosts Shabbat dinners at the Interfaith Center on a weekly basis. Other activities planned for the fall quarter include a visit from a Facebook executive on Nov. 2 to discuss the founding and organization of the popular Web site, community service projects with other Hillel chapters to benefit the greater Los Angeles area and hosting the annual Hanukkah party at the end of November. Hillel also built a Sukkah, an outdoor gathering area in honor of the holiday Sukkot, which can be found in front of Langson Library on Ring Road.

Members are cautiously optimistic about the upcoming year.

“I feel it’s frustrating because there’s so much animosity when there shouldn’t be,” Farahdel said. “It’s ironic; we’re both fighting to get peace. I really want to plan an event with [Hillel and MSU] and do something fun, like go bowling! We’re still people, and we still want the same things, we all want peace.”

2 comments:

Alex said...

Hi Phil...
Thank you for your wonderful words about me. I'm glad to know that the ZOA's biggest supporter, and a founding member of the Orange County Stand With Us chapter is still doing all that he can to limit what Jews can do on campus. I'm glad that someone who is too busy to get involved with making a difference with the on-campus Jewish community remains behind the anonymity of a computer and continues counting and measuring posters in every alcove of the UCI campus. Yes, I am trying to be nice to the MSU, because maybe, if there were more people like me, and much fewer of you, the two groups could coexist like on most other campuses in the United States. Did you know that just down the road at OCC Hillel and their MSU co-sponsored a Shabbat Dinner/Ramadan Break-Fast? NO... you didn't.. Because all you care about is furthering racist, anti-Islam propaganda, and making sure that UC Irvine looks as racist as possible so that your precious ZOA case can continue to look successful, when in reality, the University has started a Jewish Studies program, the Chancellor has met with Jewish students, as have many other administration officials. Good luck with your hate mongering.

Your Good Friend,
Alex Chazen

Concerned UCI Student said...

Let's go through what Alex said:

Alex: Thank you for your wonderful words about me.

Me: You're welcome.

--

Alex: I'm glad to know that the ZOA's biggest supporter, and a founding member of the Orange County Stand With Us chapter is still doing all that he can to limit what Jews can do on campus.

Me: On the contrary, I am not "the ZOA's biggest supporter". I differ with them on several significant issues - for example: the Gaza withdrawl (I was for it, they were against it).

But they're one of the few organizations showing some real cojones regarding the pervasive hostile environment on campus.

The ADL and Hillel begged the UCI administration for years to reduce the extraordinarily high level of anti-Semitism on campus with no luck. When that failed, those two Jewish community organizations refused to take the appropriate next step - bringing in the lawyers - even though that's what one does when a public university refuses to do its job of making sure I and every other student feels safe on campus.

So the ZOA stepped up to the plate with its civil rights complaint. Bravo to them.

Hillel and the ADL have also been shirking their duty to keep the local Jewish community properly informed about the level of anti-Semitism on campus, so StandWithUs and the American Jewish Congress did the right thing and informed the community themselves, including through the StandWithUs documentary, Tolerating Intolerance.

Mind you, the US Commission on Civil Rights - a joint Executive and Legislative committee - agrees with our views.

Now Alex, please back up your statement: how exactly am I "limit[ing] what Jews can do on campus"? I'm all ears.

--

Alex: I'm glad that someone who is too busy to get involved with making a difference with the on-campus Jewish community remains behind the anonymity of a computer and continues counting and measuring posters in every alcove of the UCI campus.

Me: Let's see if you know your history, Alex: The legendary gangster Al Capone was finally indicted and convicted for:

(a) murder,
(b) drug trafficking,
(c) tax evasion, or
(d) racketeering?

Until the UCI MSU decides for once to honor their annually-required signed commitment to uphold the UCI Principles of Community (see page 4), until UCI decides to prosecute the MSU and its members and leaders for violating the big laws, this type of work will be necessary so the MSU doesn't feel that they have carte blanche.

--

Alex: Yes, I am trying to be nice to the MSU, because maybe, if there were more people like me, and much fewer of you, the two groups could coexist like on most other campuses in the United States.

Me: Translation: "if we simply ignored the anti-Semitism, all would be peachy-keen." Alex, you sound like the Jews in 1930's Germany who said "we can live with the Nazis." Heck, you sound like you want to give every Palestinian - even the terrorists - Israeli citizenship, because then they won't want to kill us anymore. Get real.

I'd be all for co-existence - heck, full partnership - with the UCI MSU if they behaved themselves. On many US campuses, the MSUs do act with a sense of civility (for instance, they avoid bringing in anti-Semitic speakers), and great things happen because of it.

On the other hand, let me offer up just two examples of the environment at UCI:

(a) Jewish student organizations - including Jewish greeks - were the only deliberately disinvited student groups for - of all things to exclude people based on their religion and ethnic background - the UCI MSU's anti-hate rally in 2004. Vice Chancellor Gomez spoke at that event even with full knowledge of this bigoted exclusion.

(b) Last May, the Jews in the campus community were informed by Amir Abdel Malik Ali, "[our] days are numbered". (Hmmm, that sounds to me like a threat. Or maybe, Alex, you thought Malik Ali was just asking us to tea and crumpets?)

Let me also note that yet again the MSU invited Malik Ali to be one of the first people to come speak on campus this quarter - to continuing the anti-Semitic tirades.

Tell me, Alex: how much anti-Semitism by your new partners-in-peace do you consider acceptable - that you'll put me and the rest of the Jewish students on campus through - before you draw the line?

--

Alex: Did you know that just down the road at OCC Hillel and their MSU co-sponsored a Shabbat Dinner/Ramadan Break-Fast? NO... you didn't..

Me: I'm assuming OCC is Orange Coast College. I haven't heard about anti-Semitism at OCC - does the OCC MSU have a better sense of civility than the UCI MSU? If so, that's great - and bravo for OCC Hillel for breaking bread with them.

But we're talking about UCI here - not OCC - where the evidence of anti-Semitism continues to mount.

--

Alex: Because all you care about is furthering racist, anti-Islam propaganda,

Me: How exactly am I "racist" and "anti-Islam"? I am merely against Radical Islam, especially as espoused by the UCI MSU:

(a) anti-Semitism,
(b) complete and unequivocal support of terrorist organizations and their tactics of deliberately targeting civilians, including the elderly, women, and children,
(c) advocating the replacement of all democratic governments with a single, strict Islamic theocracy.

--

Alex: and making sure that UC Irvine looks as racist as possible so that your precious ZOA case can continue to look successful,

Me: Vice Chancellor Gomez has yet to apologize publicly to the campus community for speaking at the above-mentioned anti-hate rally even with full knowledge of the deliberate disinviting of the Jewish groups.

UCI has yet to punish the MSU for its year-after-year violations of campus policies #102.02 (dishonesty outside the classroom) and #102.11 (harassment) on top of, as mentioned above, their annually sworn statement to uphold the Priniciples of Community.

And, as I noted, the anti-Semites are still being invited to campus...

--

Alex: when in reality, the University has started a Jewish Studies program, the Chancellor has met with Jewish students, as have many other administration officials.

Me: Dialogue for dialogue's sake has proven to be a waste of time; the most we've gotten from Chancellor Drake - heck, UCI in general - is a statement that "hate speech" is bad - without defining what "hate speech" is.

Regarding Jewish Studies, from what I've gathered, the current enrollment in Jewish Studies is a fraction of what it was long ago. It also has yet to be determined if this Jewish Studies program - as well as the Middle East Studies Student Initiative - will differ from some of the other similar programs around the US that have turned into havens for anti-Semitism.

--

Alex: Good luck with your hate mongering. Your Good Friend, Alex Chazen.

Me: I am not hate mongering. I am bringing to the attention of the campus and Internet communities information about the anti-Semitism on campus.

By the looks of it, you'd rather I and other members of the campus community do the opposite, as described quite nicely by this cartoon.

And I am not your friend.