ADL Opposes Jewish Boycott of UCI, Gently Admonishes Chancellor Drake

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Not all organizations fighting anti-Semitism are the same. Take the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which announced opposition today to calls by "some in the Jewish community" to boycott UC Irvine over perceived anti-Israel activity on campus.

Who would that "some" be? How about the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), which was founded in 1897 and boasts 30,000 members? The ZOA issued a statement Tuesday urging potential students to apply somewhere other than UCI and for potential donors to contribute elsewhere. But academic boycotts like this, says the ADL, which was founded in 1913 and is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism, are "inappropriate, harmful and counterproductive."

"We are deeply disturbed by some in the Jewish community who have responded to the University of California Irvine's handling of anti-Israel activity on campus by encouraging Jewish students and donors to boycott the university," said Abraham H. Foxman, the ADL's national director, in a statement distributed to the media today.

He continued: "We are surprised that those who call for a boycott fail to recognize that it is a double-edged sword that legitimizes a tactic so often used against Jews and Israel, particularly in academic settings. We believe academic boycotts are inappropriate, harmful and counterproductive, and will not work to resolve the situation on campus."

However, like the ZOA, the ADL has problems with UCI Chancellor Michael V. Drake's handling of 12 student protesters who were arrested after repeatedly interrupting Israel Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren's Feb. 8 lecture in Irvine's Student Center. The ADL is just expressing that concern in a much more diplomatic way than the ZOA, as demonstrated in a letter the ADL has sent to Drake.

"We believe your commitment to maintaining a safe, respectful atmosphere free from intimidation and harassment at UCI is sincere," states the letter, which was also written by Foxman. "However, as the disruptions of last week's address by the Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren made clear, your efforts to maintain civility have not succeeded."

But Foxman also thanked Drake for his "swift, clear and appropriate" response to the disruptions of Oren's speech--which would rank as the Bizarro World version of ZOA's characterization of the chancellor's actions. The ZOA claims Drake's response was "tepid at best," that he should have more forcefully "condemned" members of the campus Muslim Student Union (MSU) and that he should have handled the discipline against the arrested students--who came from Irvine and Riverside--himself rather than turning the case over to an Office of Student Conduct that, according to the ZOA, "itself been derelict in its responsibility when it comes to the Muslim Student Union."

The ADL does find common ground with the ZOA on one thing, however. Foxman's letter to Drake urges the chancellor to make public the findings of a university investigation into allegations that British Member of Parliament George Galloway, who spoke on campus in May 2009 at MSU's invitation, "may have violated the material support provisions of
federal anti-terrorism legislation by raising money for the terrorist group Hamas."

The ADL's statement to the media includes links to alleged anti-Semitic activity and
speakers
at UCI over the years, background on the MSU and a general review of "anti-Israel activity" on campuses in 2009.
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