The Orange County Jewish Federation & Family Services reacted to the news that the Muslim Student Union suspension has been upheld at UC Irvine with a mix of applause and back slapping, claiming it "has been at the forefront of a community-wide effort to make UCI a hate-free zone for all students."
That particular boast does not sit well with one constant critic of the MSU.
Gary Fouse, an English as a Second Language teacher at UCI, writes on his fousesquawk blog ("Conservative thoughts on the issues of the day") that Jewish Federation President and CEO Shalom C. Elcott "was dashing from one news microphone to another to get his name in the papers" when the initial one-year suspension against the MSU was announced in June.
Fouse calls the above video where Elcott takes credit for the suspension "tasteless." He writes:
I hardly know where to begin, but to start with, I think this video was self-serving and inappropriate. For years, the Jewish Federation in Orange County denied the problem of anti-Semitism at UCI. A couple of years ago during Israel Apartheid Week, Elcott told me personally (in front of witnesses) that there was no anti-Semitism at UCI and had not been for years. He said that the university was doing an outstanding job. When I brought up examples of hate speech at UCI, he dismissed them as not being anti-Semitic.
In addition, the Federation took a dim view of Jewish students who openly complained about anti-Semitism and a lack of satisfactory response by the administration. They opposed the efforts of the Zionist Organization of America when they filed complaints with the Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights. It was always the Federation's policy to work behind the scenes with university officials to resolve any problems.
Those efforts achieved little or nothing.
Instead, it was Jewish students on campus and followers in the community who woke up to lingering MSU problem on campus and forced the issue, according to Fouse, who goes on to say the Jewish Federation and the campus group Hillel it funds may have a conflict-of-interest when it comes to calling out the MSU.
Fouse's logic goes like this: the federation and Hillel need members to contribute money to keep them in existence. If UCI is viewed as a campus that does not welcome Jews, it could cut into the bottom lines of both, reasons Fouse, who is not Jewish.
The university's Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Manuel Gomez last week reduced the suspension from one year to one quarter, meaning it will end Dec. 31, 2010. However, he also doubled the MSU's probation to two years and community service hours to 100 hours.
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The MSU had appealed the original one-year suspension, which led to Gomez's revised sanctions, which are the outfall from students--including MSU members--repeatedly disrupting a Feb. 8 speech on campus by Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren.
"While we are disappointed that the length of the suspension was shortened, it is not our place to determine the length nor the severity of the punishment," Elcott writes in a message to supporters. "The only way we will know that this decision has been effective will be if a systemic change occurs in the actions and conduct of the MSU, and if the MSU turns to more thoughtful dialogue that befits a university campus."
"[W]ith the university finally taking action, guess who was front and center: Elcott, of course, with that ridiculous video," Fouse blogs. "Once again, we were reading the grand proclamations of this poseur in all the news stories. What purpose was served with that video except to pump up himself and his organization?
"Keep those donations flowing, that's what purpose."