Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Al-Awda Conference Relocated After UC Riverside Stated Discriminiation Was Not Permitted

Hat Tip: A friend who will for now remain nameless

I have trouble agreeing with Lee Kaplan of Stop The ISM on a lot of things, but I do have to congratulate him for his efforts in making sure discrimination did not happen on a US college campus - especially a public campus like UC Riverside.

The Al-Awda Conference Website statement:


The host committee decided to move the convention from the University of California at Riverside to the Embassy Suites Hotel - Anaheim South when new unacceptable conditions were demanded by certain UCR administrators well after they had approved the venue. For example, the administrators levied new administrative, security and other fees in the thousands of dollars which the hosts of the convention at UCR viz. the Students for Justice in Palestine would be expected to pay. Such prohibitive fees are highly unusual and have almost certainly never before been levied at UCR on any other student group. Additionally, the university administrators insisted that Zionists be allowed to attend the convention, and that they film the convention and its participants, a remarkable attempt at intimidation.

All these new conditions and unreasonable demands were considered by the host committee as an attempt to shut down the Fifth Annual International Al-Awda Convention. Hence, the committee decided to move the convention to the Embassy Suites Hotel - Anaheim South, 11767 Harbor Boulevard, Garden Grove, CA 92840 - The committee felt that this private venue would provide a safer and more secure environment for our community and convention attendees.

Lee Kaplan of Stop The ISM wrote:

After considerable prodding by Stop the ISM, Assistant Vice Chancellor Sandoval set up three restrictions on the event that Al Awda obviously could not abide by. First, was an objection to a disclaimer posted on the Al Awda website that “the convention host committee reserves the right to decline any reservation at its sole discretion for any reason.” A similar disclaimer on the Al Awda website last year for the same conference at San Francisco State University was removed after Stop the ISM called attention to it with the SFSU administration. Public taxpayer-supported universities are not places where people can be barred because of their ethnicity or point of view as long as they behave in a lawful manner. At SFSU some Jews who support the existence of a Jewish state found their reservation requests ignored by the organizers. When notified the same thing was happening at UC Riverside, Sandoval intervened and insisted that the conference be open to anyone who could pay the entrance fee and attend in the spirit of an open university. He made Al Awda remove the restriction from their website.

Next came the issue of security. At the previous SFSU Al Awda Conference, the organizers had goons from their organization follow anyone around who they deemed as reporting what was really going on inside the event. The press was intimidated. This reporter was accosted more than once and even followed into the men’s room. Sandoval agreed such conduct should not be allowable at a public university and assured Stop the ISM that only UC police officers, some brought in from other campuses, would have sole authority for security. At the previous SFSU event some people were harassed even for taking notes or asking questions.

Of most importance was a decision made by Sandoval that cameras and recorders would not be banned at the UC Riverside event. In all other Al Awda and ISM events [cUCIs note: and at UCI indoor events], cameras and recorders are banned to prevent outsiders from seeing the anti-Semitism and outright support for terrorist groups overseas that goes on. Sandoval advised the organizers that UC Riverside was not to be used for secret meetings that the public could not scrutinize for legitimacy.

I highly recommend you follow this suggestion by Lee Kaplan:
Write Vice Chancellor James Sandoval ( james.sandoval@ucr.edu ) and Chancellor France Cordova ( france.cordova@ucr.edu ) and praise UC Riverside for doing the right thing once the truth emerged. Perhaps other universities will now finally catch on to the ISM and its affiliates like Al Awda [cUCIs note: and the UC Irvine MSU and SAS].

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