ZOA wants changes to U. of California anti-Semitism panel


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Zionist Organization of America wants the University of California to replace two members of the advisory council addressing anti-Semitism on UC campuses.

The ZOA’s July 26 letter to university president Mark Yudof called on the advisory council to replace UC San Diego Professor Jorge Mariscal and Imam Jihad Turk, who the group says has been hostile toward Jews. ZOA says the council as constituted now has no members with experience fighting anti-Semitism, and it wants the replacements for Mariscal and Turk to be well versed in the battle.

According to the letter, Mariscal praised “Justice in Palestine Week 2010 — End the Apartheid,” an anti-Israel student-run event on the San Diego campus, by saying that rarely had he seen “a more sophisticated and tempered demonstration of student activism as the Justice in Palestine calendar of events.”

Turk is the director of religious affairs at the Islamic Center of Southern California, which promotes the creation of a strong American Muslim community. ZOA said that in May 2008, the center hosted a conference about what many Arabs call the Nakba, or catastrophe — the founding of the State of Israel — and also has hosted conferences where the anti-Semitic screed "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" was displayed.

Until 2005, ZOA said, the center published a magazine containing articles that compared Israel to Nazi Germany.

“One would never dream of including individuals on the Council who have praised or supported events that are hostile to African Americans, Muslims or gays,” said ZOA President Morton Klein and Susan Tuchman, director of the ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, in a statement. “Individuals who have praised or supported anti-Semitic or Israel-bashing events likewise don’t belong on an Advisory Council that is supposed to be dedicated to eradicating anti-Semitism in all its forms.”

A June 28 letter sent to Yudof signed by the ZOA, three University of California faculty members and 11 other organizations, including the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Orthodox Union and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, requested that Yudof take steps in addition to the advisory council to stop anti-Semitism on campus.

Yudof responded four days later, saying that he recognized that anti-Semitism should be dealt with on UC campuses, but that the letter was “a dishearteningly ill-informed rush to judgment.”


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