Furthermore, it is difficult to believe that investigating the controversy did not at the very least bring to the attention of OC Hillel leadership (Fruchtman among them) the fact that the campus chapter was committing an egregious error by associating with the event as initially publicized. Instead of accepting an iota of responsibility for this disgrace, offering an apology, or ensuring that misled students were corrected for wrongfully endorsing the event, Fruchtman was moved only to personally discredit the messenger.
The Tale of Two Rishmawis remains unresolved in Orange County, California. The OC Hillel president has not issued a public apology for his organization’s proven association with a group infiltrated by high-ranking ISM activists (again, this a group that endorses and abets Palestinian terrorism). This may, in fact, have much to do with the OC Hillel President Jordan Fruchtman’s personal affinity for the OTI himself. According to a 2010 OTI booklet titled “The Olive Tree Initiative: Expressions/Impressions” obtained by the Orange County Independent Taskforce on Anti-Semitism, Fruchtman is listed as an “individual supporter” of the OTI. It is no mystery why UCI Hillel will not publicly condemn this program or disassociate from it, after being given every opportunity.
To further besmirch and cow the opposition, Fruchtman publicized a petition “signed” by Hillel students. The problem was, many of the signatories were exposed to be fraudulent. Pajamas Media discovered that numerous individuals alleged to have signed the petition never, in fact, did nor did they have knowledge of the petition. A UCI PhD candidate Joe Wolf reported, “The student president of Hillel at UCI publicly admitted to a group of students and community members on Monday, November 22, that the majority of students who were listed were never shown the letter before it was sent out the afternoon of Friday, November 19.”
The president, Matan Lurey, claimed that the seemingly fraudulent petition was the result of a mailing list error: “Using both the contact lists in my phone, and my friends, who run two other large Jewish groups at UC Irvine, we compiled a list of students we would contact to get their approval for the response letter. Unfortunately, due to the frenzied environment … the letter was accidentally sent out to the mailing list, where it was copied to a blog and forwarded along several other sources.”
As if this saga weren’t enough of a betrayal of the OC Jewish community, the coup de grace is only now just being uncovered. What is also printed in the 2010 Expressions/Impressions booklet is the 2009 OTI itinerary, which lists Aziz Duwaik, a high-ranking Hamas politician, among the scheduled speakers. The timing of the Duwaik talk was mere months after Duwaik had been released from an Israeli prison after being arrested in 2006. It should be common-knowledge to most FrontPage readers that Hamas is a US-classified terrorist organization which is expressly devoted to exterminating Jews.
A recently publicized letter written in 2009 to the Chancellor of UCI, Michael Drake, from Shalom Elcott of the JFOC and two co-chairs of the federation’s Rose Project (The federation identifies itself as the “largest funder” of the OTI) expressed distress over the Duwaik meeting. They claim that students were told — it is unclear by whom, as the name was redacted — to keep the meeting secret in order to avoid detainment crossing borders, problems traveling to and from the US, and backlash from the OC Jewish community. Nonetheless, all of these parties — the federation, UCI, Fruchtman — all continued to support the OTI. Many of them claim the Duwaik meeting was impromptu, saying that a canceled meeting was replaced extemporaneously with Duwaik by a leading graduate student in the field. However, no one seems concerned how it is possible that OTI leadership could possibly arrange a spontaneous meeting with a leader of a genocidal terrorist organization.
The Hillel-entwined OTI has not only been infiltrated by the likes of terrorist sympathizers and leaders, but the program itself shares the modus operandi of the same skillful anti-Israel propaganda technicians, like Rishmawi and Duwaik, who posture as moderate “peace-seekers” in order to seduce erstwhile pro-Israel students to their deadly cause. It was the OTI’s George N. Rishmawi himself who opined in a 2004 interview: “When Palestinians get shot by Israeli soldiers, no one is interested anymore, but if some of these foreign volunteers get shot or even killed, then the international media will sit up and take notice.” How long before it is a student at UC Irvine?
Unfortunately, the only voices who seem capable of calling this insanity what it is and warning students of the significant danger it poses are the ones that are routinely opposed by Hillel chapters on college campuses. “Why would they [Jewish students] be going over to meet with people who want to kill them except to be deceived into thinking they’re civilized?” remarked David Horowitz, whose recently launched campus campaign, the Palestinian Wall of Lies, has met a disturbing degree of opposition from Hillel chapters, typically in the form of accusations of hate-mongering.
“The alleged ‘hate’ in our [Wall of Lies] ads is that we call lies, lies. When we ask what is offensive about them, our detractors don’t have a response except to issue insults,” Horowitz said. The Palestinian Wall of Lies campaign is strictly factually-based, refuting point-by-point the predominant falsehoods promulgated by Israeli Apartheid Week. Instead of joining with the Freedom Center in this cause, “Hillel members are willing to join coalitions with groups like MSA which is a Muslim Brotherhood front group and is sponsoring anti-Israel hate weeks.”
And in some cases, as with UCI, Hillel members are willing to hear out a terrorist group leader and give him his say. At the same time, it is those who speak loudest against radical anti-Israel hatred who are quickly castigated from the dialogue. “They’ll dialogue with Hamas, whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel, rather than have an open community dialogue with those of us who support Israel as a Jewish State and oppose Jewish funding of OTI,” explained Dee Sterling, who has been prevented from speaking publicly due to her grassroots activism against the UCI Hillel and other Jewish groups’ continued association with the OTI. Unfortunately, it is a travesty that is becoming more ubiquitous, not less.
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