Jewish Journal

Why a Jewish student chose against UC Irvine

by Brad A. Greenberg

June 16, 2008 | 10:47 am

Back in March, I wrote about a community report that took UC Irvine administrators to task for the anti-Israel atmosphere on campus:

An anti-Israel speaker praises suicide bombers. Posters display Nazi symbols, anti-Israel slogans and the Israeli flag with blood dripping from the Magen David. A Muslim student says “F—- Israel,” drops his drawers and shows his swastika tattoo to a non-Jewish student.

Yes, student-invited speakers, like Amir Abdel Malik Ali and Muhammad Al-Asi, often refer to Zionists as the “New Nazis” and “Zio-Nazis;” students have called for Israel to be wiped off the map; and the Muslim Student Union hosts an annual Palestinian awareness week that accuses Israel of apartheid and genocide and this year was dubbed “Never Again? The Palestinian Holocaust.”

There are many fair criticisms of Israel, but don’t expect to hear them at UC Irvine.

One recommendation of the independent task force—formed by the Hillel director and comprised of a former member of UCI’s medical school faculty, four rabbis and a Presbyterian pastor—was for Jewish high school seniors to boycott UC Irvine. This was broadly dismissed by the local Jewish establishment, whose leaders were baldly attacked in the report, and I would agree that the logic is counterintuitive. If the campus already is hostile to Jewish students, and, at least at times, it is, wouldn’t you want strongly committed Jews to enroll there and create a more vibrant Jewish student community?

Of course, politics and religion aren’t always logical.

Here Spencer Morgan of Poughskeepie, N.Y. explains why he didn’t commit to UC Irvine (aside from the fact that Vassar is one of the best liberal-arts colleges in the country):

I heard Allyson Rowen Taylor speak at a Chabad event and she discussed the issues on the campus to a room filled with parents who had no idea what was going on in the public arena. After reading about UCI online, and speaking with others who have seen the campus antics, I decided to go elsewhere, not only for reasons of the intense hatred of Jews at UCI, but because I wanted to be free of the “apartheid walls” and the vitriol of speakers who create hate with my fellow students. I searched for a campus with high academics where study was a priority, and the influence of the MSU was minimal if not absent. While there are issues at my campus, they are tiny compared to the issues of the UCI campus.

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