UC Program Cancels Israel Event Due to Gaza Violence [UPDATED]
UPDATE: The UC Education Aboard Program sent to the Journal the message they’ve been sending to people questioning the decision to cancel the June 2 event.
“We had been hoping for a large turnout to the reception but there had been a low response to our initial invitation, which prompted us to send a reminder email,” the statement reads. “In response to that email, the UCEAP Alumni Relations Department began receiving messages from alumni questioning the decision to hold the reception in light of recent events in Gaza and elsewhere in Israel.”
“In addition to considering these alumni messages, we reassessed other aspects including the time and day, whether the low attendance would have a negative impact on our partners in Israel, whether we were competing with other personal events that some of our alumni may have already scheduled, and the financial costs of continuing as scheduled with a low turnout vs. rescheduling. All of these factors contributed to our decision to reschedule the June 2 event.”
The statement proceeded to acknowledge that they did a poor job communicating why they canceled the event and that they would reschedule it for sometime in the 2018-2019 academic year. The October events will go on as planned.
The violence at the Israel-Gaza border has prompted the UC Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) to cancel a June 2 event that would have celebrated the 50th anniversary of the UC study abroad program in Israel.
Jenny, the catering coordinator of a kosher catering company, told the Journal in a phone interview that the company was scheduled to cater UCEAP’s June 2 at the UCLA Hillel only to be told on May 16 that UCEAP was canceling the event.
“Like many of you, we have observed the increasing tension on the Gaza-Israel border with sadness and deep concern,” Elizabeth Perl, the Alumni Engagement and Development director, told Jacobs in an email. “After careful consideration, UCEAP has decided to cancel the event recognizing 50 years of study abroad in Israel that was scheduled for Saturday, June 2. While we fully understand the value and impact that study abroad in Israel has had on the lives of UC students since 1968, we feel it would be inappropriate to host a celebratory event at this time. Thank you for understanding.”
The same statement is on UCEAP’s Israel 50th Alumni Events Page.
“It was kind of like taking a political stance without taking a political stance,” Jenny told the Journal.
Jenny – speaking for herself – asked Perl in an email for the UCEAP to reconsider their decision.
“It’s really upsetting that this would impact a wonderful event or decision as Israel is the only real democracy in the region and is doing everything in its power to prevent 40,000 rioters with meat cleavers/weapons who are sending burning flags – at least one emblazoned with the Nazi symbol- over the border to cause destruction and chaos with the SOLE mission to hurt/kill any Jew or Israeli in the way,” Jenny wrote. “I hope that as a rational, thinking person you can see this and also that a prestigious university official program and group this is counter-productive to peace and unity as well as to the furthering of understanding of issues impacting Israelis on a daily basis- including Arab citizens living peacefully in Israel.”
Jenny added that she hopes UCEAP recognizes “the misled understanding of the truth and the consequences of the actions and words your organization is by making this decision.”
Jenny told the Journal that Perl hasn’t gotten back to her. Perl also did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment.
Rabbi Aaron Lerner, the executive director of UCLA Hillel, told the Journal in an email that they would be proceeding with the event anyway.
“We are working with American Friends of Hebrew University to continue with the celebration regardless of UCEAP’s involvement,” Lerner wrote. “The event will proceed in spite of political grandstanding.”
UCEAP’s event page for the 50th anniversary of the UC Israel study abroad program still shows two events scheduled for October. It’s not clear if the June 2 event cancellation will have any impact on those events.