Jewish University Presidents Who Abandon Jews
by STELLA PAUL
July 5, 2011
Since we live in a craven age, let's salute our few heroes. Meet Jessica Felber, a 21-year-old Lioness of Judah, who's suing the University of California for failing to protect her civil rights.
Felber is a student activist at Berkeley who simply asserts her right to stand on campus and hold a sign saying, "Israel Wants Peace," without subsequently needing urgent medical attention. What Jew can count on that right on a UC campus these days?
In March 2010, Felber was violently assaulted by Husam Zakharia, the leader of Students for Justice in Palestine, as she peacefully held her sign at a pro-Israel event. UC authorities "were fully aware that Zakharia, the SJP and similar student groups had been involved in other incidents on campus to incite violence against and intimidate Jewish and other students," says her renowned lawyer, Neal Sher. Nevertheless, "[d]efendants took no reasonable steps to protect Ms. Felber and others."
Felber names UC President Mark Yudof in her lawsuit and therein lies a tale. Yudof took office in 2008 amidst a blaze of schmaltzy headlines like, "New University President Keeps Kosher, Loves Israel." Yudof boasted about his wife, Judy, the first woman to serve as international president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, and proclaimed, "I am a very strong advocate of Israel."
Well, if you say so, sir. If by "very strong advocate of Israel," you mean using your powers as UC President to ignore 63 faculty members who wrote you, "We, faculty at the University of California-Irvine, are deeply disturbed about activities on campus that foment hatred against Jews and Israelis... Some community members, students, and faculty indeed feel intimidated, and at times even unsafe."
Or maybe your "strong advocacy" includes empowering lunatic anti-Semitic professors that ride herd over whole departments, corrupt academic integrity, and punish students who disagree with their "Israel is a Nazi state" harangues.
Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a lecturer at UC Santa Cruz, has filed suit against UC, claiming that the Santa Cruz campus constitutes a hostile environment for Jews. Benjamin maintains that university-sponsored, faculty-generated events have "crossed the line from anti-Israel to anti-Semitic." Federal authorities are now investigating whether Santa Cruz's treatment of Jews violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.
This is "strong advocacy," Mr. Yudof? What does complete abdication of responsibility look like?
Here's the unsettling question that now bedevils us: how did a self-proclaimed committed Jew and lover of Israel find himself at the business end of two lawsuits accusing him of anti-Semitism?
Just lucky, I guess.
The son of an electrician, Yudof is a recognizable type: the hardworking, self-made man whose capabilities are eventually rewarded with stewardship of a complex organization.
Yudof wafted upwards through the bureaucratic mazes of Texas and Minnesota, always playing the university man par excellence. Was this institutional creature ever going to expend his personal political capital to protect his unpopular fellow Jews? Evidently, only with meaningless, abstract platitudes.
Thus, Yudof acts all cuddly at Hadassah conventions, assuring the worried ladies of his Jewish bona fides. He speaks at synagogues, using his credentials as a legal scholar to sprinkle the pixie dust of "free speech" over every incident of anti-Semitic thuggery, thereby pretending that his hands are tied.
Most shamefully, he writes large checks to and bestows gushing awards upon the Olive Tree Initiative, a Jewish-funded "constructive dialogue" group that shleps Jewish UC students to Israel. Once in the Holy Land, these well-meaning young Jews are hectored by anti-Israel propagandists, and, for the coup de grâce of chutzpah, escorted to meet with Hamas terrorists newly sprung from Israeli prison. Naturally, the students are sworn to secrecy and instructed how to hide their Hamas pow-wow from authorities. Bonus outrage: the meetings take place on Rosh HaShonah!
A college president's main job is raking in the bucks, and Yudof has probably calculated his money tree's future is planted in the Middle East. This week, the budget of UC took massive hits; those five million dollars the Saudis gave to the Center for Middle East Studies at Berkeley must surely come in handy now. True, the Saudi money goes to credentializing anti-Semitic fantasias; but why quibble with cash? As for Jewish donors, Yudof may confidently bet that they'll keep right on giving, no matter how many stink bombs are hurled their way. They value education too much to stop.
When Harvard President Larry Summers muttered some politically incorrect thoughts, the faculty promptly agreed he should be shot, hanged, skinned alive, and banned from the faculty lounge. More or less. You can be sure Mark Yudof was watching. Pro-Israel Jews are now the most demonized group by UC's faculty. Mark Yudof will stand up for them about the time Ahmadinijad gets a bar mitzvah.
As for the Chabad rabbi at UC Irvine, whose home was just vandalized, or the twelve Jewish organizations that wrote Yudof in alarm at campus anti-Semitism, or the 700 Jewish students who signed a petition protesting their constant assault -- well, Mark Yudof has a message for you: I'll see you in synagogue, but after that, you're on your own.'