November 20, 2018

Koretz Headlines Protests of National SJP Conference

Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz headlined the events protesting the Nov. 16-18 National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP) conference at UCLA on Nov. 18.

The first protest, organized by Yad Yamin, started at the UCLA store; people donned in Israeli flags and holding signs that read “#TogetherAgainstAntiSemitism” and “Stop the next Pittsburgh now!” marched from the store and Perloff Hall, where the NSJP conference members were at the time.

The protesters engaged in a series of chants across the street from the hall, which included, “Hey hey ho ho SJP has got to go!” and “No more hate!” as well as singing “Am Yisrael Chai.”

It was during this part of the protest when Koretz spoke out against SJP on a megaphone.

“This is a conference that shouldn’t have been allowed to take place at the UCLA campus,” Koretz said to cheers. “This is an organization that claims to be nonviolent. They claim that this is just a discussion of policy and criticism of the state of Israel.”

Koretz added, “If this was just a criticism of the state of Israel, I could have joined them. I don’t agree with every policy of the state of Israel. But that’s not what this is. This is a secret meeting. They’re not proudly discussing policy. They are hiding in the shadows, and we have no idea what they’re discussing,” which prompted chants of “What are you hiding?” from the crowd.

The city councilman said that SJP could be planning acts of terror or how to torment Jews on college campuses, highlighting the May disruption of a Students Supporting Israel event at UCLA as well as the NSJP conference logo showing the UCLA Bruin playing with a Palestinian kite.

“That is so symbolic of everything that they stand for, which is violence against Israel and violence against Jews and hate and anti-Semitism,” Koretz said. “This should never have been allowed, and we need to do whatever we can to say this is not acceptable in the city of Los Angeles, it’s not acceptable to the Los Angeles City Council, it’s not acceptable to our residents and we won’t stand for it.”

Koretz told the Journal afterward, “I’m glad my daughter isn’t going here right now, to be honest.”

“Especially since we’re trying to improve safety of our Jewish institutions after the Pittsburgh massacre, the last thing we want to do is bring people who support violence against Israel and anti-Semitism from all over the country to Los Angeles right now,” Koretz said.

When the SJP conference attendees moved from Perloff to Ackerman Union, the Yad Yamin protesters followed and chanted at them as they were being escorted by security and continued once the attendees were inside Ackerman; the chants included, “Say it loud say it clear SJP is not welcome here!” and “Free Gaza from Hamas!”

One of the Yad Yamin organizers, who identified himself as Guy, told the Journal that they hoped to send a message to SJP that they’re going to show up at their events and stand up for Jewish students on campus.

“We’re willing to go face-to-face with these guys,” Guy said. “We’re not scared of them.”

Additionally, Bruins for Israel and Students Supporting Israel hosted a celebration of Israel at UCLA’s Wilson Plaza on Nov. 18, where people could get free food, Israel paraphernalia and fact sheets as well as arts and crafts while Israeli music blared in the background.

“We wanted to have a space for pro-Israel students and our community members to come together and celebrate why we love Israel together,” Darion Ouliguian, president of Bruins for Israel, told the Journal.

Attendees at the celebration included Koretz, Rep. Brad Sherman’s (D-Calif.) team and members of the UCLA administration.

“It’s exactly what we wanted,” Jewish Agency Fellow Amit David told the Journal. “It’s peaceful, it’s fun, it feels safe.”

Ouliguian added, “Amidst everything else happening in the background, we are still here celebrating Israel.”

What Is SJP Hiding?

Photo from Wikipedia.

Among the criticisms of the National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP) conference this weekend at UCLA has been their policy of selective exclusion.

Apparently, this policy extends to certain journalists, as I was repeatedly rejected by SJP from covering their conference.

I contacted them on Sept. 26 on the possibility of covering the conference; on Oct. 12 they sent me a link to apply for the conference. Those that get a reply within a couple of days after sending in the application are allowed in; no replies mean that you didn’t.

I never got a reply. I have since followed up with them twice: once last Friday, and again on Wednesday this past week. Still no response. A prominent Jewish leader on campus told me the conference is “hermetically sealed.”

My question: Why is SJP being so secretive about a conference they have proudly promoted with such colorful materials? What are they hiding?

They have been accused by numerous groups, including the Simon Wiesenthal Center, StandWithUs and the Anti Defamation League, of promoting anti-Semitism and maligning the Jewish state. If these accusations are not accurate or overblown, why not allow people to come see for themselves?

From my end, I would have abided by the policies of the conference and not taken any pictures or recordings. If SJP is afraid of a disruption, isn’t that what security is for? Wouldn’t a disruption at their conference actually garner sympathy for them, especially after they’ve been accused of the May disruption at a Students Supporting Israel event?

My concern is that such secrecy only fuels the criticism that SJP is indeed anti-Semitic and harbors sympathy toward terror groups like Hamas.

Maybe it’s no coincidence that even the Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed a resolution calling on UCLA to cancel the conference.

In any event, for all those who were refused entry, there will be two counter-events on Sunday at UCLA: Yad Yamin’s at 10 a.m., and then Bruins for Israel’s celebration of Israel from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. I will be at both, and you should be there, too.

Judea Pearl Calls on UCLA to Announce Support for Zionist Students

Judea Pearl, chancellor professor of computer science at UCLA, National Academy of Sciences member and Daniel Pearl Foundation president, called for UCLA Chancellor Gene Block to make it clear that the university stands with Zionist students with the National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP) set to occur this weekend.

Pearl wrote in a letter to the editor in The Los Angeles Times that Block has engaged in “selective denunciation” with how he handled far-right pundit Milo Yiannopolous compared to the NSJP conference.

“Yiannopoulous’ views were denounced explicitly on moral grounds, and the cultural contributions to Latinos to our city and country were highlighted proudly,” Pearl wrote. “Block should use the same instrument against the anti-Israel conference about to convene at UCLA and tell the campus community how central Zionism is to the collective identity of many Bruins and how inspirational it is to us.”

Pearl added that Block “should tell Zionist students that they are welcome on this campus.”

“An environment in which most students learn about Israel from the megaphones of anti-Zionist speakers cannot sustain a climate of respectful discourse,” Pearl wrote.

Anti-Jewish and antisemitic NSJP Conference hosted UCLA WILL occur – but over 35,000 people are not happy about it! See…

Posted by Adam Milstein on Friday, November 16, 2018

Pearl told the Journal on Monday in response to Block’s Los Angeles Times op-ed announcing that the NSJP conference would not be canceled:

“When xenophobic Milos Yiannopolous requested to speak at UCLA, Chancellor Block wrote (paraphrased): I can’t stop you legally but be aware, you are not exactly welcome on this campus, you are in fact disgusting, your values clash with ours.

“When anti-Semitic-Zionophobic NSJP requested to speak at UCLA, Chancellor Block wrote (paraphrased): I can’t stop you legally, but I won’t stop you even if I could, here’s why, here’s why, here’s why.”

Max Samarov, the executive director of research and strategy at StandWithUs, told the Journal via email that StandWithUs “strongly agrees with Professor Pearl.”

“That is why we worked with students to launch a petition and letter writing campaign calling on Chancellor Block to unequivocally condemn the conference, protect student rights, and increase UCLA’s cooperation with Israel,” Samarov said.

Other petitions launched against the NSJP conference include Stop Anti-Semitism’s petition and CAMERA’s petition.

The university has not responded to the Journal’s request for comment at publication time.

For more background on SJP, check out the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) primer on them here as well as the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs’ report on them here.

For more information on UCLA’s SJP, read Canary Mission’s primer on them here.

UCLA Alumni, Donors Ask School to Crack Down on Anti-Semitism at NSJP Conference

Photo from Flickr.

UCLA alumni, donors and supporters are asking UCLA Chancellor Gene Block to crack down on anti-Semitism at the National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP) conference, scheduled to take place on the UCLA campus from Nov. 16-18.

Attorneys Michael Cypers and Gary Lincenberg wrote in a letter to Block that UCLA alumni, donors and supporters are calling for UCLA to “closely monitor what happens on your campus at this conference in light of the fact, as you acknowledge, that various SJP members over recent years have preached a violent, anti-Semitic message.”

“Not all speech is protected and inciting violence against Jews or any other racial, ethnic or religious group should not be tolerated by you or UCLA,” Cypers and Lincenberg wrote.

Cypers and Lincenberg added that UCLA should ensure that SJP prevents anyone who has called for violence against Jews from entering the conference; if participants do end up calling for violence against Jews, then UCLA should cancel the conference.

“Recent events underscore our concern that the upcoming SJP conference at UCLA will be held in violation of both California law and the UC Relents Statement of Principles Against Intolerance,” the attorneys wrote, citing NSJP’s conference logo of the UCLA Bruin playing with a Palestinian kite.

“Because of the actions of SJP, a number UCLA students and faculty have feared for

their safety on campus,” Cypers and Lincenberg added. “SJP’s violence-laden messages undermine the open atmosphere of the campus as well as the goal of having a campus that is home to the peaceful exchange of ideas where civil rights are respected and about which you write in your opinion piece.”

On Monday, Chancellor Block wrote in a Los Angeles Times op-ed that UCLA can’t cancel the conference, despite the anti-Semitism coming from SJP members, due to the First Amendment. Some organizations, such as the Anti-Defamation League, have expressed concern over the conference

UCLA Chancellor: SJP Conference Won’t Be Canceled

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block announced in a Nov. 12 Los Angeles Times op-ed that the National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP) conference on Nov. 16-18 will not be canceled despite sharp criticism from many in the community.

Block explained that even though there are concerns about anti-Semitic statements issued by members of SJP, they are bound by the First Amendment to allow all forms of speech to be spoken on campus.

“Preserving the right to speak about such issues does not validate the content of that speech,” Block wrote. “All too often affording a group their constitutional rights is falsely perceived as an institutional endorsement of their message.”

Block acknowledged that he disagrees with the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement that SJP supports, saying that anti-Israel rhetoric can turn “into hostility against the Jewish people.”

“Much of what will be said at that conference may be deeply objectionable — even personally hurtful — to those who believe that a complex conflict is being reduced to a one-sided caricature, or see a double standard that demonizes the world’s only Jewish state while other countries receive less condemnation for dreadful behavior,” Block wrote.

However, Block argued that SJP still has a legal right to host its conference at UCLA, even if they espouse anti-Semitic rhetoric.

On Nov. 6, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed a resolution calling on UCLA to cancel the conference. City Councilman Paul Koretz told Block in a letter that he was “shocked and disappointed” that UCLA is allowing the conference to occur.

“Although UCLA has a responsibility to allow freedom of speech, our campuses should never become an environment where students of any origin are harassed, bullied, or prohibited from learning,” Koretz said.

Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper said in a statement to the Journal that Block “makes the compelling case for why Students for Justice in Palestine should not be allowed to run their national conference at UCLA” but then conflates the First Amendment with the gift of legitimacy from a major American institution.

“SJP students regularly and stridently mouth off against the Jewish State and their supporters on many campuses across America including UCLA. No one has attempted to block their right to be heard on the quad or in the halls of the University,” Cooper said. “But Chancellor Block, by green-lighting their national conference at a UC school, violates the spirit of the UC principles even outlined in the op/ed. What’s next? Antifa and Neo-Nazi conferences?”

Cooper added, “Make no mistake that SJP promotes and endorses violence against the largest Jewish community it the world.  There is no compelling reason why UCLA has to provide the space for their national gathering.”

Judea Pearl, chancellor professor of computer science at UCLA, National Academy of Sciences member and Daniel Pearl Foundation president, said in an email to the Journal, “This is ‘viewpoint neutrality’ UCLA style.”

Pearl added: “When xenophobic Milos Yiannopolous requested to speak at UCLA, Chancellor Block wrote (paraphrased): I can’t stop you legally but be aware, you are not exactly welcome on this campus, you are in fact disgusting, your values clash with ours.

“When anti-Semitic-Zionophobic NSJP requested to speak at UCLA, Chancellor Block wrote (paraphrased): I can’t stop you legally, but I won’t stop you even if I could, here’s why, here’s why, here’s why.”

UCLA Hillel Executive Director Aaron Lerner told the Journal in an email that UCLA Hillel “appreciates the Chancellor’s concern.”

“When we first heard about the conference, Hillel immediately sought legal advice,” Lerner said. “Even our attorneys felt that UCLA would have no choice given SJP’s registered student group status. Going forward, however, universities need to clarify whether student groups aligned with hate groups such as Hamas have a legal right to be on campus. They might, but the matter requires further investigation.”

Lerner added, “In the meantime, the Chancellor has made his voice heard, and confirmed his opposition to BDS. That’s a win.”

L.A. City Council Approves Resolution Calling on UCLA to Cancel SJP Event

Screenshot from Facebook.

The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously on Nov. 6 in favor of a resolution calling on UCLA to cancel the upcoming National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP) conference.

According to a source, city councilman Paul Koretz introduced the resolution, which stated the concern that the conference “will promote anti-Semitism.”

“SJP members have posted violent anti-Semitic rhetoric on social media, ranging from calling for the annihilation of the Jewish people, to the admiration of Adolf Hitler and hateful calls to ‘kill Jews’ ‘kill all Zionists’ and ‘let’s stuff some Jews in the oven,’” the resolution states.

The resolution also noted that SJP’s website “comparing Israel to the Nazis” would constitute as the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

Additionally, the resolution stated the concern that SJP would be excluding students from attending the conference who are not approved by SJP or other pro-Palestinian groups on campus.

“A public university should not allow any group to implement a litmus test for event participation on their campus based on an attendee’s beliefs, religion, or national origin,” the resolution states.

Therefore, the resolution argued that this would violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act that “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in federally assisted programs or activities.”

“The Regents of the University of California should let UCLA know that it is not appropriate for SJP to have a meeting on campus, especially where many of the leaders of the organization are calling for violence against Jews,” the resolution stated. “It is never a good time to have this type of event, but given the atmosphere in the country, including the recent shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue and arson at synagogues in New York, it is inappropriate for UCLA to host such a conference.”

Koretz said in a statement, “As we work to increase security at Los Angeles Jewish community institutions in light of the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue massacre, bringing the SJP conference to Los Angeles in which leaders and members exhort to ‘kill all the Jews’ and ‘stuff some Jews in the oven’ is also a significant threat to public safety. “

Additionally, Koretz sent a letter to UCLA Chancellor Gene Block expressing similar concerns to what was mentioned in the resolution as well as pointing out that SJP members were involved in a May disruption of a Students Supporting Israel (SSI) event on campus.

“As a UCLA alumnus and as the City Councilmember representing the Fifth District that includes UCLA, I am shocked and disappointed that the University would allow such an event to occur on campus,” Koretz wrote.

Koretz later added, “Although UCLA has a responsibility to allow freedom of speech, our campuses should never become an environment where students of any origin are harassed, bullied, or prohibited from learning.”

On Oct. 31, UCLA issued a cease-and-desist letter to National SJP for using the UCLA Bruin Bear playing with a Palestinian kite as their logo for the conference. NSJP tweeted on Nov. 5 that UCLA’s cease-and-desist letter was “discriminatory” and that they are “extensively reviewing our legal rights with our attorneys.”

UCLA has not responded to multiple requests for comment from the Journal as of publication time.

Anti-Semitism Protest to Be Held at UCLA on Tuesday

A protest against anti-Semitism is going to be held at UCLA’s Faculty Center at 11 a.m. on Tuesday.

The protest, which is being organized by Yad Yamin, will call for UCLA to cancel National Students for Justice in Palestine’s (NSJP) upcoming conference on Nov. 16-18:

SJP Uncovered has said that Alhato was disinvited from the conference over his posts.

A member of Yad Yamin told the Journal in a phone interview that a nonpartisan coalition will be calling on UCLA to actively take a stand against “incitement and anti-Semitism” on campus, as they don’t think the administration is currently doing enough against it.

For instance, the member argued that UCLA’s cease-and-desist letter against NSJP for using the UCLA Bruin Bear in their conference logo failed to acknowledge the inherent anti-Semitism in the logo.

“They concentrated on the licensing and unpermitted use of the bear… but what about the obvious in-your-face anti-Semitism of it?” the member said, pointing out that half of the kite that the bear was playing with is shaped like Israel and covered in red.

The cease-and-desist letter noted that the kite in the logo could be interpreted “as an intention to endorse violence against Israel.”

The Yad Yamin member also pointed out that NSJP’s website specifically called for the destruction of Zionism, which would fall under the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, but the event is still being allowed to occur on campus.

The coalition will be calling for the UCLA administration to not only cancel the NSJP conference, but also to sanction and investigate SJP, as well as train university staff to better identify anti-Semitism on campus.

“We’re fed up with the administration’s refusal to address the growing anti-Semitism on campus,” the member said.

Petition Calls on UCLA to Cancel NSJP Conference

Photo from Flickr.

A recent petition started by Stop Anti-Semitism website is calling on UCLA to cancel the upcoming National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP) on Nov. 16-18 and already has tens of thousands of signatures.

The petition, titled “Help prevent the next Pittsburgh – tell UCLA to cancel SJP’s annual hate conference!”, notes that SJP founder Hatem Bazian has uttered “horrific anti-Semitic and violence-inciting statements,” such as calling for an “intifada” in the United States and that “there are large number of Zionists who were engaged with Nazi Germany.”

The petition also highlighted various anti-Semitic statements from SJP members:

Additionally, the petition points out that SJP has heaped praise upon convicted terrorists Rasmea Odeh and Leila Khaled and has ties to terror groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad.

“Because of SJP’s closed-door policy of not allowing any non-SJP students to attend the Conference, UCLA is essentially allowing SJP to continue spewing their messages of violence, Anti-Semitism, and support of known terrorists,” the petition states.

The petition proceeds to call on UCLA to cancel the conference.

“If not canceled, we call to hold UCLA accountable by investigating it for violation of anti-discrimination laws, its own policies against discrimination as were adopted by the UC Regents, and violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin (including Anti-Semitism) for federally assisted programs and activities!” the petition concludes.

As of publication time, there were more than 16,000 signatures to the petition.

UCLA issued a cease-and-desist letter to NSJP on Wednesday evening to stop using the UCLA Bruin Bear in their logo by Monday, or else the university could shut down the conference.

UCLA Sends Cease-and-Desist Letter to NSJP Over Conference Logo

Photo from Flickr.

UCLA has sent a cease-and-desist letter to National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP) over their logo for the upcoming NSJP conference on Nov. 16-18.

As the Journal reported on Wednesday, the logo features the UCLA Bruin Bear playing with a Palestinian kite. The Journal has obtained a copy of UCLA’s cease-and-desist letter to NSJP, which was signed by Administrative Vice Chancellor Michael Beck and dated Oct. 31.

The letter begins by noting that the logo has “the unauthorized use” of UCLA’s name and Bruin icon.

“Taken as a whole, these uses claim, suggest, or imply an affiliation with or an endorsement by UCLA of NSJP and/or its annual conference, which is simply incorrect,” Beck wrote.

Beck then demanded that NSJP re-work the UCLA name in the logo to make it clear that UCLA is simply the location for the conference and not in any way an affiliate or endorser of the conference. He also demanded that the UCLA name and Bruin Bear be removed from artwork “associated with a Palestinian kite which some may interpret as an intention to endorse violence against Israel.”

“UCLA did not grant permission for this use nor would it permit use of its name in a manner that could imply endorsement of violence,” Beck added.

Beck told NSJP that they had until Nov. 5 to submit in writing that they have complied with the demands of the letter.

“The University hereby reserves its right to pursue whatever additional remedies or claims it may have, including cancellation of the event, if NSJP fails to fully comply with the terms of this directive,” Beck concluded.

Among the criticism of the logo included the following statement from Judea Pearl, chancellor professor of computer science at UCLA, National Academy of Sciences member and Daniel Pearl Foundation president, to the Journal:

I have served on the faculty of UCLA for 49 years and I have never thought I would see the day when the symbol of my university would turn into a Hamas recruitment poster. The NSJP Conference reminds us that hate did not stop at Pittsburgh. U.S. campuses, emboldened by our blindness and inaction are now offering racist groups a fertile ground to spawn their venom, test out intimidating tactics, and gain academic legitimacy. The stench of hatred and sounds of incitement to hostilities that will emerge from the NSJP Conference will damage UCLA’s reputation irreparably.

NSJP did not immediately respond to the Journal’s request for comment.

The full letter can be seen below:

National SJP to Use UCLA Bruin Playing With Palestinian Kite As Conference Logo

Screenshot from Twitter.

National Students for Justice Palestine (NSJP) unveiled their logo on Oct. 27 for their upcoming conference at UCLA: the UCLA Bruin playing with a Palestinian kite.

Below is the logo, which can be seen on NSJP’s website:




Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Journal in a phone interview that the logo is “poking their finger at the eye of the UCLA administration and the UCLA community” by “co-opting the UCLA Bruin icon.”

“What does the Palestinian kite stand for today?” Cooper said. “It’s not going out with peace kites from Japan. It’s setting aloft arson terrorist kites to burn down crops and forests as they’ve done in southern Israel.”

Cooper added that Palestinian terrorists have been using explosives disguised as children’s toys in order to lure Israeli children into touching it and having it blow up in their faces.

“If this doesn’t wake up the UCLA administration to cancel the event at UCLA, then they’re going to have to deal with the consequences that the UCLA Bruin has now been hijacked by people who want to destroy Israel and are pro-terrorist,” Cooper said.

The university and NSJP have not responded to the Journal’s request for comment.

The conference is scheduled to take place on Nov. 16-18.

Alison Mayersohn Retires From ADL

Alison Mayersohn with her grandchildren Orly and Avi. Photo courtesy of Alison Mayersohn.

If you’re a Los Angeles Jewish community professional or you work in any major media organization that writes about issues of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment, chances are you not only have heard of, but also have worked with, Alison Rudolph Mayersohn — the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Los Angeles deputy regional director. 

Born in Westwood, Mayersohn has spent the past 15 years working at the ADL, but the 65-year-old officially hung up her hat on Oct. 19, after giving four months’ notice to her boss, Regional Director Amanda Susskind. 

“That’s just like [Mayersohn],” Susskind told the Journal via telephone. “She said, when she gave her notice in July, ‘I’ll stay through your wedding.’ ” (Susskind married earlier this month.)

Susskind called Mayersohn, “The ‘A’ Team. I’ll miss her sunny disposition, her sense of humor. She often breaks into song in the office — not particularly in tune, but we love her for it.”

On a more serious note, Susskind said Mayersohn “runs the office better than I do when I’m not there. She can keep a lot of balls in the air.” 

Asked to highlight one incident that summed up Mayersohn’s 15-year tenure, Susskind paused before stating, “The ADL’s Sherwood Prize for law enforcement officers who go above and beyond the call of duty to combat hate. [Mayersohn] is personally responsible for taking that to a great level of media awareness.”

In a separate interview with the Journal, Mayersohn also noted this as a highlight of her career. 

Mayersohn receiving Senn Award at ADL Los Angeles Gala, Beverly Hilton Hotel, 2010. Photo Courtesy ADL

Jewish Journal: How did you make the decision to retire? 

Alison Mayersohn: I’d been thinking about it and full disclosure, I’m almost 66. I knew at some point I would retire and I kind of waited until it felt right. 

I felt I had had a really good run both in the totality of my career and in my 15 years at ADL. I was ready to spend more time away from work. I hadn’t been ready when I turned 65. I really do want to spend more time exercising and what I would call body maintenance, and I hope that the last phase of my life is as healthy as possible. And I want to travel more. We have a total of six grandchildren around the country. I’d like to spend more time with them as they grow up. 

JJ: What drew you to work at the ADL? 

AM: I was at the Jewish Federation of Orange County for nine years, the last eight as director of marketing. I wanted to come back to Los Angeles. I wanted to use all of my media experience, because that’s definitely a skill set. I had done a lot of community organizing and [the ADL position] included that and I was particularly interested in issues relating to anti-Semitism and Israel.

JJ: Where did that interest come from?

AM: I grew up in a secular home and I became interested as a teenager in Judaism and then I went and minored in Jewish studies at UCLA, and a lot of my career was in the Jewish communal field. I had sought out involvement in the Jewish community for that feeling of community and sort of found a home in being a Jewish communal professional. It made me feel even more part of the community and I felt I was doing something valuable. 

JJ: Were there any experiences in your ADL tenure that you found pleasantly surprising and conversely, anything that was shocking or overwhelming?

AM: When I [first] came here one of my colleagues said, “Many of us who come to work here are used to being the smartest person in the room. You will never be the smartest person in the room.” That was really, really good advice and it was true. You’re working with incredibly smart people who are working on the cutting edge issues of the day. 

On the other side, I had an understanding about anti-Semitism when I got the job. I had experienced it a little as a young person. Certainly from working at various Jewish federations, I understood it. As a history major at UCLA I certainly understood the history of anti-Semitism, but when you are in a position that day after day you’re seeing photos and images and hearing stories from people, I think that there’s nothing that anyone can do to prepare for what that’s like to do for 15 years.

JJ: How do you deal with that and not become overwhelmed?

AM: You try not to get jaded. You want to still be reactive and get upset but at the same time you can’t spend 24 hours a day getting upset. You hope that what you’re doing is helping in some large and small ways. 

In a large way you’re hoping to reduce anti-Semitism, although we’ve certainly seen an increase in anti-Semitism in the last couple of years. But on the other hand, you can help the individual. They come to you and they’ve never heard the epithet “dirty Jew” and as someone with a lot of experience talking to a lot of people I hope that I’m able to help calm them and help them put it in perspective. 

“I don’t feel in terms of anti-Semitism or anti-Israel sentiment or diversity — any of those things that [the ADL] stands for and worked so hard for — that the current climate is better now.”
— Alison Mayersohn

JJ: What are some of the changes you’ve seen at the ADL during your tenure?

AM: Campus issues have become more and more of an issue. Also, we have gotten calls from the time I started here to this year where people call and are astonished that somebody left them a voicemail saying, “I think you should go back to the ovens,” or some other horrible thing like that. Those things happened when I came here in 2003 and they’re still happening in 2018.  It’s horrible.

And since 2016, there’s been less and less civility and people are more willing to say these things. And people are also more willing to call us and tell us about them. I think the whole issue of lack of civility in the public square has been way more front and center in the last couple of years.

The other thing I have seen, especially before Charlottesville, [Va.], people would say, “You work at the ADL. That must be interesting but how much anti-Semitism is there really here?” Now, nobody says that to me. What they say is, “Oh my God, you must really have your work cut out for you.”

JJ: What are you most proud of at your time with the ADL? 

AM: I think it would have to be the really, really good press coverage that I have gotten for the unsung heroes of law enforcement who have won the ADL Sherwood Prize. That’s been extremely gratifying to me. And also I think being able to mentor the next generation of Jewish community professionals has been very gratifying. 

JJ: In 2010 you won the ADL’s Senn/Greenberg Award for professional excellence. What was that experience like? 

AM: It was a great honor and presented to me at our annual gala. It was very nice to be recognized like that.

JJ: Is there something you wish you could have done in your 15 years but didn’t get to do?

AM: I didn’t get to eradicate anti-Semitism. I think it’s tough to feel that 15 years later things are worse than they were when I started. I don’t feel in terms of anti-Semitism or anti-Israel sentiment or diversity — any of those things that we stand for and worked so hard for — that the current climate is better now.

Rep. Sherman Condemns SJP Conference in Letter to UCLA

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) condemned the upcoming National Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) conference, scheduled for Nov. 16-18 at UCLA, in a letter to the school’s chancellor, Gene Block, arguing that the conference promotes anti-Semitism.

The Oct. 11 letter begins by noting that SJP members “have posted violent anti-Semitic rhetoric on social media, ranging from calling for the annihilation of the Jewish people, to admiration of Adolf Hitler.” Sherman added that National SJP’s website would fall under the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism that was recently adopted by the State Department, such as comparing Israel to the Nazis.

Sherman also stated his concern that only those who have been “verified and vouched for” by SJP or another pro-Palestinian group on campus would be allowed to attend, meaning that most Jewish students wouldn’t be allowed to attend the conference.

“Even if SJP can point to a handful of Jewish students allowed to attend, the exclusion of the vast majority of Jewish students raises issues under Title VI,” Sherman wrote. “A public university should not allow any to implement a litmus test for event participation on their campus based on an applicant’s beliefs, religion, or national origin.”

Sherman added that if UCLA’s SJP chapter ­– a co-sponsor of the event – is funded by mandatory student fees, then the conference would be in violation of the University of California’s policies for excluding large numbers of students from attending.

“I am sure you support Title VI of the Civil Rights Act like I do, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in federally assisted programs or activities,” Sherman wrote. “This includes protecting students from anti-Semitism and preventing discrimination against most Jews in admissions to a conference held on campus.”

Sherman’s letter concluded, “While I recognize UCLA’s responsibility to allow freedom of speech, our campuses should never become an environment where Jewish students are harassed, bullied, or prohibited from learning.”

Posted by Adam Milstein on Thursday, October 18, 2018

Chancellor Block responded to Sherman in a letter obtained by the Journal. Block’s response states that while UCLA “unequivocally condemns anti-Semitism” and is against the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, the First Amendment requires them to allow the conference to proceed on campus.

Additionally, Block noted that SJP has told UCLA that they will not be using mandatory student fees to fund the conference.

“Since they are not using these university funds for the event, there is no mandate that the conference be open to all University members,” Block wrote.

Block added that UC policy does however prevent student groups on campus from discriminating membership based on viewpoint and that the university will ensure that students will be safe on campus.

“We will continue to stress that our students should approach controversial topics thoughtfully and respectfully, without resorting to insult or ethnic bias,” Block wrote.

David Myers Appointed NIF Board President

The New Israel Fund (NIF) announced last weekend that UCLA Jewish History Professor David N. Myers has been appointed president of NIF’s board of directors.

Myers, 58, replaces Israeli attorney Talia Sasson, who concluded her three-year term in October. 

The Journal spoke with Myers by telephone following the announcement. Below is an excerpt from that interview. 

Jewish Journal: How did you first get involved with NIF?

David Myers: I have had a very strong connection to Israel since the first time I went at age 11 when my parents took me. I’ve been going back with nearly yearly regularity ever since. I’ve been 40 or 50 times. I’ve always felt a deep, spiritual bond to Israel. I started graduate school there and as I became an adult, became more aware of the complexity of Israel and its political situation.

I became involved in NIF for the last 10 years and the last five years as a member of the board because it is the perfect meeting point of my deep connection to Israel and my deep concern for the values of justice and equality that NIF stands for and that Israel’s Declaration of Independence stands on.

JJ: What is the actual role of the president of NIF and do you have any new ideas that you’re looking to implement? 

DM: There is an extraordinary professional staff that engages in the work day-to-day. The president is a lay volunteer that serves for a three-year term and the job is to do several things: To be a spokesperson for the fund here and in Israel alongside the professional staff; to lend support to the core mission of the fund, particularly in terms of raising money for the extraordinary grantees, who really hold aloft civil society in Israel; and to run the board, which is the chief decision-making body of the organization — and that’s in a certain sense the most specific task. 

I’m also headed to Israel this week for five days [in my new role]. We’ll do a series of interviews there with the media. The position has particular prominence in Israel because it’s an important organization and there’s a lot of curiosity about who [I am]. After an initial round of interest, I suspect we’ll all settle back into a regular rhythm.

I think I can bring a measure of strategic thinking to the organization insofar as I’m not involved with the day-to-day operations. It affords me some measure of distance to reflect on what the general priorities are. 

JJ: Heading to Israel as the new president, the NIF has received a lot of criticism from the Israeli right and from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. How do you plan to navigate this?

DM: I’m going to try and be who I am, which is to say a proud, loving Jew with deep bonds to Israel who is concerned about the current state of affairs and is concerned from a perspective of love and compassion. I believe if I’m able to convey that — not everybody — but some people will be able to understand that the goal of the New Israel Fund is to allow Israel to realize the exalted ideals contained within its Declaration of Independence, which is a document I carry around with me because I believe in them so deeply. 

“The goal of NIF is to allow Israel to realize the exalted ideals contained within its Declaration of Independence.  — David Myers”

That’s what NIF is devoted to: its vision of Israel — a homeland for the Jewish people and a place where freedom, justice and equality are uniformly offered to all citizens. If we can succeed in conveying that, we will have made significant progress in explaining who we really are.  

JJ: When were you last in Israel and what was your gauge of the political climate at that time? 

DM: I was last in Israel in June. My sense was this is a time of great challenge, that Israel — like much of the world — is experiencing attacks on the foundations of its democratic institutions, in ways that I think threaten those core ideals embedded in the Declaration of Independence. If you look at some of the laws that have been introduced, especially the Nation State Law, I think you can see that the core principle of equality for all is under attack. 

I think the time is a critical one. I think NIF has never had a more important role to play in attending to the crisis of democracy and I think people of goodwill in Israel who understand this challenge will join together in support of these principles. We have to make clear what’s at stake. We’ve not always been able to do that successfully, and I hope moving forward we’ll be able to do it with more effectiveness.

JJ: In September 2017, your predecessor Talia Sasson responded to a tweet asking whether Israel was an “evil country” or “just committing ethnic cleansing on a regular basis?” She responded, “It’s both.” Is this still the view of NIF, and if so, how do you navigate the attacks where people continue to call the organization pro-BDS and anti-Israel? 

DM: First of all Talia Sasson is one of the great crusaders for justice in Israel that you will ever meet. I know few people who are as committed to democracy and as patriotic as Talia. The twitter-sphere is a very ephemeral medium and it invites responses in the heat of the moment. My own view is that the day has passed when we are going to let the anti-democratic forces define who we are. The focus needs to be on the challenge to democracy, and we come as lovers and deeply committed principled people to uphold the foundations of democracy in Israel. I think we need to get better at explaining who we are, not who we aren’t. (Editor’s note: After this interview, an NIF spokesperson requested that we note that Sasson “apologized and deleted the tweet,” shortly after posting it.)

JJ: The 2016 NIF financial report showed donations dropped to the organization by 20 percent. Do you feel NIF requires a PR overhaul?

DM: We know why that happened: Many of our donors were concerned about what was going on in the United States following the election of Donald Trump as president, and decided to commit their resources to what they felt was an urgent crisis of democracy in this country.

We’ve continued to raise approximately $1 million more every year [than the previous year] from individual donors. I would say at every moment of leadership transition there’s an opportunity to recalibrate and redefine and sharpen focus. That’s the moment that we should seize the opportunity.

In Jewish philanthropy and philanthropy in general, we’re experiencing a transfer of wealth from the older generation, which possesses a very specific set of commitments – to a younger generation, which doesn’t yet have a clearly defined set of commitments. We have to be ready for that, and we have to think proactively.

My presidency is a moment to expand the circle and consolidate forces out there in defense of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

New Report Highlights SJP’s Ties to Terror

Photo from Wikipedia.

A new report from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), which has been obtained by the Journal, highlights some of Students for Justice in Palestine’s (SJP) reported ties to Islamic terror groups.

The JCPA report notes that the National SJP organization was established in 2010 by American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), the U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) at the 2010 World Social Forum; AMP is chaired by Hatem Bazian, who is also the founder of SJP. Bazian has called for an “Intifada” in the United States and has referred to Israel as the “slave master.”

Additionally, at least a couple of AMP’s board leaders have ties to the Holy Land Foundation, an organization that was convicted in 2008 for providing material support to Hamas, the report notes.

Similarly, the USPCN’s founders include people who worked for the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), which was one of the groups listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial, according to the report. At their conferences, the USPCN has hosted Raed Salah, who heads the Northern Islamic Movement in Israel, an organization that is affiliated with Hamas.

The 2010 forum was sponsored by the Boycott National Committee; the organization’s ties to terror can be seen here.

National SJP has also provided a platform at their conferences for Rasmea Odeh, who was convicted by an Israeli court for a 1969 Jerusalem supermarket bombing that killed two students, as well as Khader Adnan, a leader of Islamic Jihad, which is designated as a terror organization by the U.S. State Department, per the report.

The report also notes that SJP has been involved in a number of incidents on college campuses throughout the country, including members of UC Irvine’s SJP getting arrested “for violent verbal disruptions of a presentation by Dr. Michael Oren, former Israeli ambassador to the United States” in 2010, according to the report. Another example of a SJP incident occurred in 2013, when SJP’s Northeastern crashed a Holocaust remembrance event with chants of “Free Free Palestine!”

National SJP is scheduled to host their annual conference at UCLA on Nov. 16-18.

Read the full report here.

Finding the Right Education for Your Child

Photos courtesy of Brawerman Elementary School

Tamara Miller brings a wealth of experience to her new role as principal of Brawerman East Elementary School, located on the campus of historic Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Koreatown. 

She spent the past 18 years at Brentwood School, where she taught science for 12 years. For six of those years she was the chair of the science department, and after earning a doctorate in educational leadership from UCLA she was promoted to academic dean in 2012. 

In an interview with the Journal, Miller said she has benefitted from being the mother of two teenagers. “When I think of all the choices that our kids are thinking about for seventh grade, I can talk to parents authentically about the process. [We] toured a lot of schools just to get the sense of what was out there and what would be a good fit for our family.”

One of her sons is a junior at Brentwood School and the other just started ninth grade at Milken Community Schools. “For him, being at a Jewish school, I know he’s learning about the holidays, the importance of community,” she said. “It’s really nice having at least one child carry on with their Jewish education.”

Miller said parents often feel their children should be at the same school, but “sometimes two schools or three schools is best for the whole family. The reality is that two very different kids will be doing two very different things, even if they’re at the same school.”

To find the right school, a parent needs to look at who their child is, what kind of student they are, what their interests are, and where they can grow, Miller said. They also should consider the school’s mission and vision. Basically, Miller said, families need to do their homework. “That includes going on the school tours, going to the parent coffees, doing shadow days with other students and schools, talking to families that are enrolled, talking to kids that are enrolled, finding out about what the schedule looks like.” 

[At Brawerman], there’s an emphasis on tikkun olam, social justice, innovation and thinking about things outside of 

the traditional academic program. I think we’re redefining what traditional means now.” — Tamara Miller

There are many little things that come with the application and interview process, especially for parents going through it for the first time with their first child. Miller hopes her background as an educator in secondary schools, and as a parent, will help her to shed some light on the process.

“When the kids are in kindergarten, first, second and third grade, we’re not just thinking about secondary schools, though,” Miller said. “We try and save that process for end of fifth grade, beginning of sixth grade, when it’s appropriate.”

Miller said she has seen the influence that her own children’s teachers have had on them, as well as the value of having a strong academic program. “It shapes kids,” she said. “It makes them think about things outside of their lives. I especially like the Brawerman education, because there’s an emphasis on Tikkun Olam, social justice, innovation and thinking about things outside of the traditional academic program. I think we’re redefining what traditional means now.”

Brawerman Elementary School was founded by Wilshire Boulevard Temple in 1999 when it opened its Westside location at Barrington Avenue and Olympic Boulevard. Brawerman Elementary School East welcomed its first students in 2011 and graduated its first sixth-grade class in June.   

“I have been at Brawerman East since June and have seen firsthand the great work that is happening in and out of the classroom,” Miller said. “The curriculum is rich with science, math, reading and writing, social studies, innovation, art, P.E. and Hebrew. Engagement, love of learning, and self-confidence stem from a rigorous and well-planned curriculum. I don’t actually need to change or adjust the curriculum. I will continue to build upon the amazing programs that are already in place.”

This story appeared in the 2018 Education Guide edition of the paper. 

IAC for Action, UCLA Student Speak Out Against SJP Conference to UC Regents

Screenshot from YouTube.

At a Sept. 27 UC Boards of Regent meeting at UCLA, the Israeli-American Coalition for Action and a third-year student at UCLA spoke out against UCLA for its plan to host the National Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) conference in November.

The student, Justin Feldman, accused SJP of aiming to demonize Israel through “resolutions to boycott Israel, claiming that Israel is an apartheid state, and even comparing Israel to Nazi Germany –– all of which are officially defined as anti-Semitism by the United States State Department.”

Feldman proceeded to highlight what he called “disturbing” statements from various SJP members, including desires to “stuff some Jews in the oven” as well as inviting “speakers with proven connection to terrorist organizations such as Hamas.”

“Some are even convicted terrorists themselves, like Rasmea Odeh, who was convicted [in Israeli courts] and jailed for the murder of two Israelis and many more wounded,” Feldman said. “These are SJP’s role models. Does this sound like a human rights conference to you?”

Feldman added that the SJP conference will be closed to the public, arguing that this violates UCLA policy and that pro-Israel students should be allowed to attend in order to defend Israel and expose any instances of anti-Semitism that occurs at the conference.

“I ask you, the UC regents, to either prevent SJP from hosting this conference at UCLA… or alternatively, require SJP to open its conference to all students,” Feldman said.

Subsequently, Jonathan Harris, director of the IAC for Action, cited tweets from SJP members that read, “May Allah curse the Jews, and that’s all,” “Where do Black Jews sit? Wait for it…IN THE BACK OF THE OVEN,” and “Give me a weapon and send me to Gaza.”

“Would a group dedicated to the hatred of African-Americans be as welcome?” — Jonathan Harris

Harris added that 36 percent of Facebook and Twitter posts from people affiliated with SJP at an unnamed American university “endorsed terrorism and violence against Jews,” arguing that this showed that SJP is “anti-Semitic at its core.”

“A group rooted in hatred for Zionism and the rights of the Jewish people is coming to UCLA to celebrate itself and seek legitimacy in the realm of public discourse,” Harris said. “Would a group dedicated to the hatred of African-Americans be as welcome? Or perhaps a group routinely justifying violence against women? Such groups, clearly, would not be allowed, yet a national network promoting hatred and violence against Jews will come to UCLA. “

By allowing SJP to hold a conference that is closed to the public, Harris argued that UCLA is failing to abide by its anti-discrimination policy for Jewish and Israeli students.

“SJP’s hatred of Jews and Israel is racism,” Harris said, “Violent, rationalized racism. And this conference in Los Angeles sends one clear signal to anti-Semites: ‘Come to UCLA – you are welcome here.’”

After the two spoke, UC Regent Sherry Lansing said that she had thought that UCLA required all conferences to be open and that it was “very concerning” that SJP’s conference is going to be closed to the public.

In an emailed statement to the Journal, the university noted that SJP’s national conference is still “in the early planning stages,” so it’s not yet clear if the event is going to be closed to the public.

“If the conference is not open to the entire campus community, it will not be eligible for University funding,” the statement read. “However, if the conference foregoes University funding, there is no systemwide or UCLA policy that would require the event to be open to the entire campus community.”

“There is a systemwide UC Policy that requires that certain Registered Campus Organization (RCO) events be open to all university community members. However, that policy applies only to events where compulsory campus-based student fees are used for the activity.”

UCLA has come under fire for agreeing to host the SJP conference; for instance, a petition from the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) has called on UCLA to reverse its decision. More than 1,600 people have signed the petition as of publication time.

The description of the conference on SJP’s national website called for the destruction of Zionism and accused it of promoting “ethnic cleansing, destruction, mass expulsion, apartheid, and death.”

Yom Kippur ‘On Air’

UC Berkeley students Orly Raveh and Becca Speyer live-stream Congregation Or Ami’s Rosh Hashanah services

While many Jews head to services over the High Holy Days, there are some who, for a variety of reasons, can’t or don’t wish to attend synagogue. For these people, there are ways around this obstacle in the 21st century: welcome to streaming online services.

In Los Angeles alone, synagogues from Koreatown’s Wilshire Boulevard Temple to Congregation Or Ami in Calabasas live-streamed their services. 

Rabbi Naomi Levy, of Nashuva, has been leading Kol Nidre Live online for 10 years. The services began as a webcast on the Jewish Television Network (JTN) before Nashuva partnered with the Jewish Journal, when Levy’s husband, Rob Eshman was editor-in-chief. 

Levy was originally approached by JTN’s then-president and now Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles President and CEO Jay Sanderson, about doing the broadcast.

“My first [thought] was worrying, ‘Will people think it’s sacrilegious?’” Levy told the Journal by phone. “But then we thought about all the people who are either homebound or in some way turned off to Judaism, and it might just be a window for them. Even from the first webcast we realized that there were tens of thousands of people out there starving for a way to have a Yom Kippur experience who weren’t able to come [to services] physically.”

After receiving an email from a family in a country that doesn’t permit the public gathering of Jews, Levy said, “I could not figure out where they were, but they said, ‘We’re not allowed to practice Judaism publicly, and we’re here with you [online] and we can’t tell you what this means. We’re just sitting here in tears, to be able to experience Yom Kippur with you.’”

Over the years, Nashuva’s services have earned long-time followers. Felicia Goldring wrote on this year’s live-stream page, “I actually just came home from shul, and I looked forward to the second Kol Nidre of the night — watching, listening and singing to this.” 

“From the first webcast we realized that there were tens of thousands of people out there starving for a way to have a Yom Kippur experience who weren’t able to come [to services] physically.”
— Rabbi Naomi Levy

A woman named Louise posted, “I found this service a few years ago when I was ill on erev Yom Kippur, and now I choose it over my regular shul.”

Or Ami has been live-streaming the High Holy Days for six years. “You are not watching, you’re worshipping,” Rabbi Paul Kipnes told the Journal. “For those people who cannot be in shul because their kids are too young or because a loved one is ill or because they’re required to work, to be able to worship with us has been transformational for them. It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to touch their lives even when their lives don’t allow them to stop and get into shul.”

Online worship also appeals to those who haven’t found a synagogue that works for them. 

“I received a beautiful note from a guy back East who said he hadn’t been to a synagogue since he broke with his past shul,” Kipnes said. “He found us online and said, ‘I felt like something that was closed off has opened up, and I feel connected once again to the Jewish community and with God.’”

San Francisco resident Tracey Gersten told the Journal she prefers Or Ami’s online services to attending the synagogue by her home. “And it’s not just [because of] parking and traffic. There are all these distractions that happen when you’re in a room full of 500 people,” Gersten said. “Not only is the spiritual connection deeper, it allows me to get all of the other responsibilities that go along with the holidays.”

Don Levy, director of marketing and communications for Wilshire Boulevard Temple, said he watched the synagogue’s live-streaming services in 2015, before he began working there. 

“Two of my sons were out of town, so we were all able to virtually be there together,” he said. He added, that many of Wilshire Boulevard Temple’s online viewers are former congregants who have moved to other cities. “They are grateful,” he said, “that they can participate in a synagogue they love.”

UCLA Confirms Hosting of National SJP Conference

Photo from Flickr.

After being initially unsure if they were hosting the National Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) conference in November, UCLA has confirmed to the Journal that they are in fact hosting the conference.

In a statement sent to the Journal via email, UCLA Associate Director of Media Relations and Public Outreach Ricardo Vazquez wrote:

“As a public university, UCLA is bound by the First Amendment, which protects freedom of speech for each of the more than 1,200 registered student organizations on campus, regardless of whether the ideas they express are controversial or offensive.

Use of campus space by a student organization such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) does not mean that UCLA endorses the event or agrees with the views expressed by the event organizers. For example, UCLA and the University of California Regents continue to firmly oppose boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

Especially in a university setting, controversial topics should be discussed thoughtfully and respectfully, free from demonization, insult or ethnic bias. UCLA holds participants at campus events organized by registered student groups to the standards of behavior set forth in the UCLA Student Code of Conduct and applicable laws, and is committed to ensuring the safety of all of our students.

In addition to a vibrant Jewish life, for which UCLA was recently praised by the Forward newspaper as the #1 campus for Jewish life on the West Coast and #3 in the nation, we are proud of the intellectual and cultural links UC, including UCLA’s Center for Israeli Studies, maintains with Israel. Israeli speakers regularly visit campus and UCLA schools, departments and institutes maintain active student and faculty exchange programs with Israeli institutions.”

The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) started a petition calling on UCLA to reverse their decision.

“Despite the notorious anti-Semitic rhetoric used by this group, UCLA is facilitating the conference by hosting the three-day summit on its campus,” the petition states. “SJP’s conference is designed to instill hatred towards and intolerance while proliferating lies about Israel. SJP creates an unsafe campus environment for students regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, political affiliations, or religious beliefs, but disproportionately affects Jewish students.”

The petition cited an SJP member threatening to physical harm Zionists on campus at Stanford and the disruption of a UCLA Students Supporting Israel (SSI) event in May as examples.

“We urge UCLA to reconsider allowing itself to be a platform for SJP, which is built on pillars of racism, lies, intimidation, and bigotry,” the petition concludes.

Jonathan Harris, executive director for the Israeli-American Council (IAC) for Action, said in a press release that SJP “encourages discrimination against Israelis based on their nationality.”

“It doesn’t take a genius to connect the dots: this group encourages anti-Semitism,” Harris said. “This conference for hate threatens the 10,000 Jewish students currently at UCLA. The UCLA leadership should be ashamed for hosting this vile, hateful group.”

Before the decision was official, UCLA Chancellor Professor of Computer Science Judea Pearl sent a letter to Vice Chancellors Monroe Gorden and Maria Blandizzi that read in part:

The organization in question as a matter of its own policies violates university protocols and hampers free speech of others as a strategy.  Thus, for example, the Conference description, as posted on the SJP website, states with pride of accomplishment:

“Other instances of our perseverance include disruptions
     of pro-war, Zionist, and racist guest speakers”

SJP is here boasting about, and suggesting a continuation of the disruptive tactics it adopted in the past  year. (Among other things, statements such as these constitute evidence of the organization’s encouragement of and involvement in the May 17 disruption that should be relevant in the ongoing investigation.)  Statements such as these also border on incitement to violence and should be seen as encouraging violation of the university code of conduct, as well as the norms of civil discourse UCLA aspires to achieve on our campus. Allowing the National SJP Conference to be held at UCLA in the current environment, with these disruptive free speech/violating tactics having been recently used and still being advocated by their organization will be interpreted by many as condoning rather than condemning and prohibiting the use of such reprehensible tactics.

This organization which attacks Zionism as racism itself uses the most racist and vile language and violates the basic norms of civility on campus.  It is a destructive organization that is committed to sowing discord and uses the campus as a locale to advance its radical political aims which is not a negotiated and peaceful settlement of an historic conflict but rather the de-legitimatization and the destruction of the State of Israel. 

UCLA Jewish Fraternity Faces Lawsuit Over Alleged Sexual Assault

Photo from Facebook.

UCLA’s Alpha Rho chapter of Jewish fraternity Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT) is currently facing a lawsuit by a female student who claims that one of its members sexually assaulted her and the fraternity did nothing about it.

According to the lawsuit, filed by the Foundation for Accountability in Higher Education and Keith A. Fink & Associates on August 10, the student – who wanted to keep her name anonymous – was at a party hosted by Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) on August 12, 2016. The defendant, Blake Lobato of ZBT, allegedly pressured her to consume voluminous amounts of alcohol at the party. Eventually, the student became too exhausted and left the party with a group of friends.

However, according to the lawsuit, as the student left the party, she noticed she was too intoxicated to walk properly, so she went back to the party, which she hoped “would end soon.” She encountered Lobato again on her way back to the party, who encouraged her to spend the night at the ZBT house, where he provided her with a bed to sleep alone.

The student alleges that while she was sleeping inebriated and drifting “in and out of consciousness,” Lobato “forcefully removed her shirt and pushed her body down to unfasten her shorts.” The student protested and attempted to resist Lobato’s actions to no avail, and she says Lobato forcefully penetrated her without her consent – twice.

The student says that she felt “excruciating physical pain” for days after the alleged assault happened, and that she had to see a therapist in order to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.

She went to ZBT’s president at the time, who is not named in the court documents, and described to him what Lobato allegedly did to her. The president responded by saying he believed her, but the fraternity did not investigate or reprimand Lobato. The student kept pressing the issue, resulting in Irving Chase, a lawyer and board member of ZBT, to handle the matter.

Chase allegedly disbelieved the student’s allegations against Lobato, insisting that no ZBT member would engage in such actions and he urged her not to bring the matter to UCLA. Chase eventually told the student the fraternity would investigate the matter.

The student later learned after telling her friends about Lobato’s alleged assault that he had allegedly raped another female student in 2015, who is also not identified in the court documents.

“Both women are members of the same sorority; both women were drinking at fraternity parties prior to the assaults; Lobato offered to walk both women home prior to the assaults but instead took them to his room; both assaults occurred in Lobato’s room, and in his bed; Lobato ignored them telling him ‘no’ and making comments like, ‘you know you want this’; LOBATO attempted to or did orally copulate them, without their consent, prior to penetrating them; LOBATO first penetrated them while positioned above them and then physically turned them over and penetrated them from behind, without their consent; LOBATO’s conduct was aggressive and forceful; and both women were unable to find their underwear after the encounter,” the lawsuit states.

Both women confronted ZBT’s president, but he reportedly gave them “the runaround.” The student then confronted Chase about the investigation, but he replied that he was unable to render a verdict on the matter. When ZBT installed a new president, the student told him about Lobato’s actions against them, and the president pledged to remove Lobato as a member. The fraternity never reported the assault to UCLA’s Title IX office, the lawsuit alleges.

After taking a class on Title IX, the student decided to report the alleged rape to the university’s Title IX office. The student claims that Lobato threatened to kill her and that he was frequently “lingering outside her sorority house window.”

Lobato was eventually expelled from the fraternity in January 2017 after the student filed the report, but “he continued to affiliate himself with ZBT to no objection from ZBT or its members.” He was expelled from UCLA in November 2017 and currently resides in Ohio.

In sum, ZBT faces allegations of negligence, and Lobato faces allegations of assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress in the lawsuit. SAE and UCLA’s Interfraternity Council (IFC) also face allegations of negligence, as the lawsuit argues that they’re liable for serving alcohol to minors and failing to establish proper safety measures.

UCLA’s ZBT chapter has not responded to the Journal’s request for comment. ZBT and SAE told The Daily Bruin that it was not their policy to comment on “pending or threatening litigation.”

The full court documents can be seen on The Daily Bruin.

UCLA Unsure About Hosting Anti-Zionist Conference in November

Photo from Public Domain Pictures.

National Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) announced on their website that UCLA’s SJP chapter will be hosting the national SJP conference in November. However, when the Jewish Journal contacted UCLA, they had not yet confirmed that the conference would be happening on campus.

Algemeiner first reported that UCLA would be hosting the conference, linking to National SJP’s announcement, which states: “Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA will be hosting the 8th annual National Students for Justice in Palestine Conference on November 16-18, 2018 in Los Angeles, CA.”

 But Ricardo Vazquez, UCLA’s associate director of media relations, told the Journal in an email that UCLA had first learned about the conference in a Facebook post on August 21.

“We [are] working to verify the information in the Facebook post,” Vazquez wrote. “SJP is a student group, and most students are still away from campus until we start the fall quarter in late September. To clarify again: This would be an SJP-sponsored event that the organization plans to host on campus.”

UCLA’s SJP and National SJP decried Zionism in the announcement as “perverse in all aspects of Palestinian life and aims to destroy Palestinian existence and culture.”

“With the Nakba and the Naksa, relentless attacks on Gaza, cementing apartheid into law, and the everyday oppression of Palestinians at all levels of life, it may seem at times like all hope of seeing a free Palestine has been diminished,” SJP UCLA and National SJP wrote on the National SJP website. “And yet, Palestinians have persevered through the generations by means of their resistance and resilience.”

They also referred to Zionism as “ethnic cleansing, destruction, mass expulsion, apartheid, and death” and that it “can be destroyed” and said that they would discuss divestment campaigns as one of the ways they can be active on college campuses.

UCLA’s Students Supporting Israel (SSI) chapter called on UCLA to deny SJP from being allowed to host their conference on campus in light of the May 17 disruption of an SSI event.

“SJP clearly aimed for the destruction of our event, the denial of our free speech, and the negation of the academic freedoms which our university stands for, a similar pattern of action used by them on US campuses time after time,” UCLA SSI wrote on Facebook. “While for some the events of May 17th are well in the past or act as merely a reminder of the growing prevalence of anti-Semitism Zionophobia across university campuses, for us, SJP across the country serves as an organization that denies freedom of speech and uses violent methods to silence their opponents, methods that lead to bullying and violence.”

They added that the SJP conference aims “to further subject our university to their racist, hateful, and Zionophobic tactics and messages.”

“Zionism is the national movement of the Jewish people that called for Jewish sovereignty and led to the establishment of the state of Israel,” UCLA’s SSI wrote. “Zionists believe in the return of an ancient and indigenous people into their homeland after a millennia, and the right of the Jewish people to finally become masters of their own destiny. Today, decades after the Jewish people have returned to their homeland to established a Jewish, indigenous, and democratic state, those who support the existence of Israel face anti-Semitism and Zionophobic attacks and disruptions against them on college campuses, and those efforts are greatly led by SJP.”

The post concluded with the call for the UCLA administration to “take the appropriate actions in not allowing a well-known hate group like SJP to host their national conference on our campus.”

“In doing so, the administration will set a national example that denial of free speech, disruption, intimidation of students, and violence will not be tolerated in the academic community,” UCLA’s SSI wrote.

UCLA professor Judea Pearl had a similar reaction.

“My students and colleagues at UCLA express revulsion and indignation at the idea that our campus will be hosting a racist Zionophobic conference aimed at the destruction of the Jewish homeland,” Pearl said in a statement sent to the Journal. “Israel is a cherished symbol of identity to thousands of students on this campus, and sponsoring a blunt Zionophobic conference at their face is telling them they are not welcome at the University of California. Zionophobic racism is still racism.”

“We plead with the Chancellor to react to this proposed conference the same way he would react to any racist conference, be it Islamophobic or white-supremacist.”

When asked about how UCLA would address concerns of pro-Israel students about the SJP conference, Vazquez responded:

UCLA is bound by the First Amendment, which protects everyone’s right to express their ideas, even those that are controversial or unpopular. UCLA officials condemned the disruption of the ‘Indigenous Peoples Unite’ event on May 17, activating UCLA’s student conduct process and forwarding complaints filed by students to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, which is now reviewing the matter. UCLA remains committed to protecting all of our students, regardless of their religious or ethnic identities or political beliefs. We will hold everyone to the same standards and continue to work to foster an environment where everyone’s rights are protected. Today we are proud that UCLA has many intellectual and cultural links to Jewish and Israeli institutions. Many UCLA schools, departments, and institutes have active student and faculty exchange programs with Israel and we have study abroad programs at the Hebrew University, the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Technion.”

As of publication time, neither UCLA’s SJP nor National SJP had responded to the Journal’s request for comment.

Rabbi Aaron Lerner: How Bad Is It for Pro-Israel Students at UCLA?

UCLA Hillel Rabbi Aaron Lerner shares the ups and downs of being a pro-Israel activist on one of the world’s most famous college campuses.

Follow David Suissa on Twitter and Facebook.

Check out this episode!

L.A. City Attorney Mulls Prosecution of Anti-Israel Disruptors of UCLA Event

Photo from Flickr.

It began as yet another frustrating example of a university refusing to take swift action in a case of aggressive disruption of a pro-Israel event. The belligerent shutdown of a Students Supporting Israel panel discussion occurred at UCLA on May 17, 2018. That incident has skyrocketed to become the most important potential prosecution of anti-Israel campus disruption in the nation since the Irvine 11. A top Los Angeles City attorney is now actively reviewing the file of evidence and police complaints for possible prosecution under state laws that criminalize the disruption of public meetings, as well as other related statutes.

In the now well-known case, on May 17, Students Supporting Israel gathered in a UCLA function room for a panel discussion titled Indigenous Peoples Unite. Disruptors–suddenly and loudly–stormed into the room mid-session. One person tore down the students’ flag, demonstratively pulled away a desk placard, and cursed threateningly close to the face of a panelist. With bullhorns, whistles, staged dancing, and slogan shouting, the event was shut down. The disruption and nose-to-nose intimidation of the students attending the SSI event was documented in a video, beginning at minute 41.

Although the UCLA administration publicly promised a referral to prosecutors, no such action was taken against the various protestors — both students and non-students, because UCLA campus police were awaiting formal complaints by the intimidated students. Only after such a formal police report is filed do police investigate and determine if a referral to prosecutors is called for. Then, prosecutors weigh the evidence and decide if prosecution is warranted. All students contacted by this reporter stated they did not know they were entitled to make a police report.

After media revelations about UCLA’s inaction, two Jewish groups sprang into action–the Louis D. Brandeis Center, headed by constitutional attorney Alyza Lewin, and the StandWithUs Saidoff Legal Center, headed by attorney Yael Lerman. The Washington-based Brandeis Center flew its attorney, Aviva Vogelstein, to Los Angeles. Together, Lerman and Vogelstein personally escorted numerous students as well as one member of the community into the UCLA police department where they all filed formal written and verbal complaints.

One such police complaint, obtained by this reporter, was filed by a community member in the room during the event, Laura Leve Cohen, a major donor to the UCLA’s Center for Jewish Studies, where she serves as an advisory board member. Cohen’s complaint opens with the words: “Have you ever been confronted by an angry mob and not able to leave? I hadn’t.  Until Thursday evening, May 17th, 2018 … Midway through the presentation, an angry, out-of-control mob stormed into the classroom, shouting and chanting. Simply put, we were trapped by a crowd of student protestors, surrounded on all sides, and unable to leave the room.”

After processing the collection of complaints, the UCLA police department opened Case 18-1206, assigning it to one of its seasoned detectives, Selby Arsena. Detective Arsena has racked up a many-years-long track record investigating campus violence. One of these included a 2011 stabbing case that resulted in a 12-year prison sentence.

In mid-July, Arsena delivered his file to Los Angeles City prosecutors at their Pacific Branch, located in a curved building also known as “the Airport Courthouse,” near Los Angeles International Airport. Quickly, the case was assigned to the office’s assistant supervising attorney, Spencer Hart, a highly-regarded prosecutor with experience in high-profile cases. One notable Hart prosecution involved jail time for a student found guilty false imprisonment at UCLA. A source in the prosecutor’s office characterized Hart’s record of successful prosecutions as one which earned “the No. 2 position in the office.”

Both Arsena and Hart declined to comment for this article.

Just a few days after case 18-206 landed on Hart’s desk, he was emailed a seven-page letter, submitted jointly by the Brandeis Center and the StandWithUs legal center, a copy of which was obtained by this reporter. The joint letter was a polished and detailed review of the evidence, legal precedent, and case law.

“There is strong California precedent to prosecute and convict disruptors who violate criminal law in their attempt to silence speakers on campus,” the letter asserted. It continued, “In a similar fact pattern in 2011, a jury convicted ten student members of the Muslim Student Union of a misdemeanor for disrupting former Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, in a coordinated effort at a public event at the University of California-Irvine (“UC Irvine”) … [later] upheld by a panel of three Orange County Superior Court judges. We believe that the facts in the case before you, Criminal Report #18-1206, merit similar prosecution and would result in similar convictions.”

The Brandeis-SWU letter specified the alleged potential criminal violations Brandeis and SWU had previously itemized in a letter to UCLA administrators: “§ 403 – disturbance of an assembly or meeting, § 415 – disturbing the peace; § 182 – criminal conspiracy to do the aforementioned’” and added two more based on additional research: “§ 242 – battery; § 664 – unsuccessful attempt to commit battery; and § 594 – vandalism.” The letter is jointly signed by Lewin, Vogelstein, and Lerman, the three of which have become the most active in the effort to see the matter prosecuted.

Lewin commented: “This disruption was egregious and unlawfuland must be properly prosecuted.”

While Lewin, Vogelstein, and Lerman have led the effort to have police reports filed and argued for prosecution, numerous Jewish and pro-Israel organizations have voiced support for the idea. Just days after the disruption, the Zionist Organization of America’s legal department sent a letter to UCLA insisting that a violation of state criminal law was clear.

If prosecutions and convictions result from the May 17 UCLA event shut-down disruption, it is expected to help define the criminal limits of such disruptions at campuses across the nation.

Edwin Black is the award-wining New York Times bestselling author of IBM and the Holocaust as Financing the Flames.

UCLA Responds: Letter to the Editor

UCLA Students File Criminal Complaints Against Anti-Israel Disruptors

Justin Feldman after filing police report 6-11-18. Photo courtesy of StandWithUs

Criminal complaints are now being filed by students following the belligerent disruption of a May 17, 2018 Students Supporting Israel [SSI] event at University of California Los Angeles. At least a half-dozen students announced they would visit the UCLA police department to file formal complaints reporting criminal disruption of a meeting, as well as disturbing the peace and conspiracy.

The move follows media disclosures that the UCLA was reneging on the public pledge by two chancellors in the Daily Bruin —bolstered by a statement for the record by a university spokesman — to refer the belligerent May 17 incident to prosecutors.

The disruption and nose-to-nose intimidation of the students attending the May 17 SSI event at UCLA was documented in a video, beginning at minute 41. Disruptors suddenly and loudly stormed into the room mid-session. One person tore down a flag, demonstratively pulled away a desk placard, and cursed threateningly close to the face of a panelist. With bullhorns, whistles, staged dancing, and slogan shouting, the event was shut down.

The Louis Brandeis D. Center, led by attorney Alyza Lewin, along with Director of Legal Initiatives Aviva Vogelstein and three law students in the UCLA Brandeis chapter, dispatched a letter to the university asserting that the disruption crossed the line into misdemeanor violations of the California criminal code. They cited Title 11, section 403 (which covers deliberate disruption of a public meeting —successfully used to convict the so-called Irvine 11), section 415 (which covers malicious disturbance of the peace), and section 182 (which forbids any conspiracy to violate the other sections).

At the same time, two UCLA chancellors, Jerry Kang and Monroe Gorden, penned an official denunciation of the incident that was published in the Daily Bruin campus newspaper. Their statement promised, “For those outsiders who disrupted the event, we will refer all evidence of wrongdoing to local prosecutors to determine whether they have broken the law.”  Bolstering the chancellors, university spokesman Tad Tamberg confirmed, “the off-campus people who have been identified … have been arrested previously and are known to the police here and have been referred to the prosecutor’s office.” He added, that a proper police investigation had already been done. “You don’t send something to the prosecutor’s office without first investigating it,” he stated. The involved UCLA students were to be referred to university discipline rather than prosecutors, the university stated.

It was not clear why UCLA students, who potentially broke the law, would not receive the same referral to prosecutors as outsiders for the same conduct.

The case then took a strange and unexplained twist. Three weeks after the event, in an email, Tamberg clarified, “There were no arrests, nor did anyone file a police report or complaint regarding the May 17 disruption, hence there was no police investigation.” Tamberg explained his prior assurance about a referral to prosecutors actually involved the disruption of an earlier, completely unrelated February 26, 2018 event with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

Prosecutors and police assert that without the filing of actual police complaints, no investigation or referral to the prosecutor can take place. None of the disrupted students contacted said they had filed a report, with two saying they did not even know they had the right to file such a complaint. Hence, no action could be taken.

After the media disclosure, numerous students stepped forward to file complaints. The first was Justin Feldman, president of the SSI chapter at Santa Monica College, enrolled at UCLA for the fall semester. Feldman stated he feared for his personal safety during the incident. On June 11, Feldman, who had previously completed a StandWithUs [SWU] high school training program, appeared at the UCLA police department accompanied by Yael Lerman, SWU legal director, to formally file his complaint.

More than a few of the students harassed during the May 17 event were trepidatious about filing a police report. But, according to Lerman, the police made the whole process “comfortable,” acting “helpful and respectful.” After a short wait at the station, officers Robert Chavez and Lowell Rose escorted Feldman into a small room where his report was taken during an hour-long interview in what Lerman described as an “unrushed” session.

Lerman credited Feldman for his actions. “What Justin did in filing was critical in moving the process forward. The [UCLA] administration has known about this for weeks and has chosen not to move this forward. So now the students have to.”

After emerging from the police station, Feldman stated, “I feel empowered.” He added, “I feel it is so important for students to take matters into our own hands, and not leave them to bureaucratic measures.” Feldman stated that “most students simply do not know about the process and what measures can be taken to hold people accountable.” “Justin’s courage will serve to empower other students at universities across the country who will realize that students can help move justice forward when administrations can’t or won’t,” added Roz Rothstein, cofounder and CEO of StandWithUs.

A campus police spokesperson assured that the department would investigate all complaints in the matter. Feldman’s complaint is just the beginning. At press time, Alyza Lewin, COO of Louis D. Brandeis Center in Washington, D.C., had dispatched its director of legal initiatives, Aviva Vogelstein, and a law clerk to fly to Los Angeles to meet with numerous other students who are scheduled to file complaints. Law students in the UCLA Brandeis chapter will observe the process. The police currently are reviewing a list of 10 individuals who allegedly perpetrated the disruption, along with screen captures of their text messages and social media statements. One such message urged disruptors “to shut it down.”

Within 24 hours of Feldman’s complaint, UCLA confirmed that the matter would indeed be referred to prosecutors. “UCPD has reviewed the video of the May 17 disruption, and is investigating the information in the incident report for any new evidence about the disruption that it may contain,” stated university spokesman Tamberg. He added, “UCPD will forward the incident report to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office.” A prosecutor has already been assigned. Tamberg stated UCPD “will discuss both the report and the video with the prosecuting attorney in July, when that person returns from leave.”

“This case is a turning point for all students across the country,” asserts SWU’s Rothstein. Lewin of the Brandeis Center agreed stating, “Students across the country now recognize the importance of promptly reporting incidents like these to the police.”

Edwin Black is the New York Times bestselling author of IBM and the Holocaust and Financing the Flames.

Pro-Israel Groups Pursue Criminal Aspects of Disruptions

Photo from Flickr.

Disruptions of pro-Israel events by anti-Israel groups continue to intensify into physical aggression and violence across campuses and even into the community. As a result, Jewish and pro-Israel groups have started to explore the criminal aspects of such incidents.

The invasion, disruption, and nose-to-nose intimidation of a May 17, 2018 Students Supporting Israel [SSI] event at the University of California, Los Angeles was one several red lines recently crossed for pro-Israel groups and many in the human rights community. The small UCLA gathering, dubbed “Indigenous Peoples Unite,” brought Kurdish, Armenian, and Israeli individuals to discuss their common bonds.

As shown in this video, beginning at minute 41, disruptors suddenly and loudly stormed into the room mid-session. One person grabbed a flag, demonstratively pulled away a desk placard, and threateningly cursed close to the face of a panelist. With bullhorns, whistles, staged dancing, and slogan shouting, intimidation brought the event to a halt.

The May 17, 2018 UCLA incident hit a nerve among some Jewish leaders. Previous Jewish and pro-Israel responses have long focused on formal requests for administrative relief, petitions, and public statements. Few of those efforts seem to have slowed the escalation of disruptive tactics. After the UCLA event, several Jewish and pro-Israel groups began considering responses based on Title 11 of California’s criminal code that might apply to such conduct—not as an exceptional response, as it was for the Irvine 11 who disrupted an Israeli diplomat’s speech, but as a new rule of thumb in California.

Title 11, Sec. 403 concerns disruption of public meetings. The statute reads: “Every person who, without authority of law, willfully disturbs or breaks up any assembly or meeting that is not unlawful in its character … is guilty of a misdemeanor.” This was the very statute used to successfully prosecute and convict the so-called “Irvine 11,” who disrupted an Israeli diplomat in UC Irvine with mere shouts—much less severe than the physical intimidation seen at UCLA.

Title 11, Sec. 415 involves disturbing the peace. The statute calls for not more than 90 days jail time for “any person who maliciously and willfully disturbs another person by loud and unreasonable noise” and also “any person who uses offensive words in a public place which are inherently likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction.” The May 17, 2018 video documents that is what happened in this case.

Title 11, Sec. 182, a conspiracy statute, can be invoked when “two or more persons conspire to commit any crime.” A digital message marked “urgent,” a screen shot of which has been obtained by this reporter, was circulated via the “Arts & Activism Alliance” message group. The message urged disruptors “to protest Students Supporting Israel’s ‘Indigenous Peoples Unite’ event happening this evening. We are going to shut it down.”

Interviews with students attending the SSI rally reveal that several felt intimidated and even feared for their physical safety during the disruption. For example, one of the three panelists, SSI chapter president Hirmand Sarafian, confirmed that he felt physically threatened “throughout the whole thing, from the beginning to the end.” At one point when protestors were vehemently banging on the doors, Sarafian said, he felt “trapped.”On May 24, 2018, conscious of the potential criminal conduct which had unfolded on their campus, two UCLA chancellors, Jerry Kang and Monroe Gorden, penned an official denunciation of the incident which was published in the Daily Bruin campus newspaper. Kang is a highly regarded legal expert. The statement was clear: “the panelists and audience felt silenced and intimidated. Thankfully, no one was physically hurt.” Drawing a distinction between protest and intimidation, the chancellors asserted, “It is one thing to persuade through evidence and argument; it is quite another to interrupt with intimidation.” The chancellors promised, “For those outsiders who disrupted the event, we will refer all evidence of wrongdoing to local prosecutors to determine whether they have broken the law. For those who are members of our own community, clear transgressions of university policy will also be addressed appropriately.”

It was not clear why UCLA students who potentially broke the law would not receive the same referral to prosecutors as outsiders for the same conduct. Kang did not respond to a request for clarification.

At the same time as the UCLA chancellors were drafting their statement, three UCLA law students at the local chapter of the Louis D. Brandeis Center, a Washington D.C.-based human rights organization, were penning their own letter to UCLA Chancellor Gene D. Block, specifying potential criminal conduct. Page 3 of their letter specifies: “The students and outside disruptors potentially violated various provisions of the California Penal Code, including but not limited to: § 403 – disturbance of an assembly or meeting, § 415 – disturbing the peace, and § 182 – criminal conspiracy to do the afore­mentioned.” The law students cited case law, and details of the disruption. They concluded, “It appears that all the required elements of a § 403 violation are met.”

The law students’ letter was reviewed and then co-signed by constitutional lawyer Alyza Lewin, now COO of the Brandeis Center. The letter was delivered to Chancellor Block on official Brandeis Center letterhead.

UCLA is not eager to discuss the matter. When contacted, University spokesman Tad Tamberg repeatedly ruled out any questions. But he did state, “the off-campus people who have been identified … have been arrested previously and are known to the police here and have been referred to the prosecutor’s office.” He added, that a proper police investigation was, in fact, done. “You don’t send something to the prosecutor’s office without first investigating it,” he stated.

But some three weeks after the public promises in the Daily Bruin, the confirmation by the University spokesman, and the Brandeis Center letter, no investigative or referral action has been taken.

To initiate a criminal referral, a complaint or police report must be filed with local police—that is the UCLA campus police. Only then do the police investigate. Only after any investigation will the police send their case to the city attorney for a decision on prosecution. None of the students contacted said they had filed a report, with two saying they did not even know they had the right to file such a complaint. The UCLA administration has not filed a complaint.

UCLA police confirm that no investigation has taken place, and no referral to the prosecutor has been made because no one has reported a complaint. Even though the UCLA police were present during the fracas and escorted the protestors out, campus police insist they cannot investigate without a formal complaint. The LA city prosecutor confirms that the May 17, 2018 disruption “is not one of the incidents that our office is currently evaluating for filing purposes.”

The contradiction between the public promise by the chancellors in the Daily Bruin and Tamberg’s assurance that “the off-campus people have been referred to the prosecutor’s office” in the face of police and prosecutor denials could not be explained.

But then, the case took a strange and unexplained twist. Tamberg issued a clarification. While no action has been taken on the May 17 disruption, UCLA police did forward the videotape of the May 17 event to the city prosecutor in connection with two previous unrelated cases, campus sources say.

When asked again whether the “referral” to the police and prosecutors had actually occurred, Tamberg clarified he was not referring to the May 17 SSI case, but to a separate incident on February 26, 2018, involving Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who appeared at UCLA and was briefly heckled by protestors who police forcibly removed and arrested. After the Mnuchin incident, the protestors were served with a “stay away” order, under Title 11, Sec 626.67 of the penal code which empowers university personnel to administratively demand non-students stay off campus. Jail time is prescribed for violators. Essentially, these are “campus bans” backed by the force of law. In this case, a banned student from the Mnuchin event returned for the March 5, 2018, appearance by former intelligence officer Chelsea Manning, convicted of espionage. One banned protestor was arrested on sight. While taking no action on the May 17 disruption against SSI, the university is using the May 17 video to bolster prosecution efforts on the Mnuchin case.

Tamberg, in an email, confirmed, “There were no arrests, nor did anyone file a police report or complaint regarding the May 17 disruption, hence there was no police investigation. However, UCLA PD shared video of the disruption with the L.A. city attorney, who is considering filing five misdemeanor charges against individuals from off campus who disrupted Treasury Secretary Mnuchin’s talk at UCLA on Feb. 26. That incident resulted in a seven‐day stay away order against one of the off campus arrestees, who was subsequently rearrested when that person showed up at a talk by Chelsea Manning at UCLA on March 5. UCPD sent video of the May 17 disruption to the L.A. city attorney with the request that the city attorney consider the actions of May 17 in deciding whether to file charges concerning the previous incidents of Feb. 26 and March 5.”

Tamberg repeatedly declined to respond to questions about why the May 17 incident was not being investigated. UCLA police refused to answer further questions, referring all inquiries to Tamberg. From all appearances, police decisions are not being controlled solely by the police, but also by UCLA public relations. A senior UCLA police source explained, “we coordinate with them closely.”

Lewin at Brandeis Center insisted, “If there is a criminal violation, it should be investigated.”

While the attack against SSI has stalled, Jewish and pro-Israel organizations are increasingly turning to the criminal code in matters of extreme disruption.

When the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York staged its June 3, 2018 Celebrate Israel, “We had six people, each paired with a representative of the NYPD legal team,” says director Noam Gilboord. He added, “This was primarily for disruption.” In this case, he reports, “There were no major disruptions, no incidents, no arrests.” But Gilboord says, “All assaults, disruption, and violence should be reported to the proper authorities or law enforcement.” Other Jewish and pro-Israel organizations echoed that sentiment.

However, in the case of the May 17, 2018 UCLA incident, no prosecution is pending because no one has reported it to the police, neither the students nor the university.

Edwin Black is the New York Times bestselling author of IBM and the Holocaust and Financing the Flames.

UCEAP Reverses Decision to Cancel Israel Event

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The UC Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) has reversed their decision to cancel a June 2 event celebrating Israel’s 50th anniversary.

The description of the event on their website now states, “UCEAP will host a reception marking 50 years of educational partnership with Hebrew University on the originally scheduled date, June 2, at UCLA. Please excuse any confusion about the occurrence or timing of this event. We hope you will join us as we honor this milestone of academic collaboration and mutual benefit.”

As the Journal has previously reported, UCEAP had initially announced that they were canceling the event due to alumni questioning the decision to host the event in light of the recent violence in Gaza. Rabbi Aaron Lerner, the executive director of UCLA’s Hillel, had told the Journal in an email that the event was going to happen anyway “in spite of political grandstanding.”

UCLA professor Judea Pearl told the Journal in an email that such questions from alumni tend to happen with Israel event.

“I am glad the administration has reversed its decision and I hope it sends a clear message that programs at UCLA are judged by their academic merits, not by BDS agenda,” Pearl wrote.

UCEAP has not responded to the Journal’s request for comment.

UCLA and Other College Campuses Across the Country Celebrate Israel’s 70th Birthday

Yom Ha’atzmaut is particularly special this year as Israel celebrates its 70th year of existence. College campuses across the country have been celebrating by throwing various birthday parties for Israel.

According to a press release from the Celebrate 70 campaign, the celebrations started on April 2 and will continue until April 26. By that time, there will have been events taking place at 73 college campuses in the United States and Canada that will feature a Tel Aviv-esque beach party theme.

“For years, BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] has worked to slander Israel and attack its supporters on campus,” Andrew Borans, the executive director of Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi), said in the press release. “On this special birthday, we will counter this hate by bringing to life the fun, passion, and inspiration that emanates from Israel’s people and vibrant culture.”

One such campus was UCLA, which held its Celebrate 70 event on April 14 during UCLA’s Bruin Day, an event tailored to prospective students and their families to learn more about the school and the programs it has to offer. Julian Markowitz, AEPi’s Director of Israel Engagement, told the Journal in a phone interview that around 250-300 people attended the Celebrate 70 event.

“We gave out a couple hundred ice creams to students, prospective students [and] their families, we displayed with great pride our Israel-themed surfboards and surf arts, we set up our surf shack-style furniture and décor, and we invited local students to partake in our celebration,” Markowitz said.

There were no anti-Israel BDS protests in response to the Celebrate 70 party on campus. Markowitz speculated that this was because any counterprotests would have been a bad look for the anti-Israel crowd.

“The way we framed our message was so overwhelmingly positive that it would have been very challenging for them to oppose it and not look like meanies,” Markowitz said, adding that he had chosen the idea of a beach-themed party because it was “universally positive.”

“Everyone likes a birthday party,” Markowitz said. “Everyone likes the beach, surfing, and surfboard[s].”

Borans told the Journal in a phone interview that thus far there have yet to be any counterprotests to the Celebrate 70 events across the country, even on campuses like Wayne State University that have anti-Semitic organizations on campus.

“I was concerned about some violence, I was concerned that people would get mad, and… zero. Zero of that,” Borans said.

Borans added that the Celebrate 70 events have given AEPi and other pro-Israel groups the opportunity to educate students and prospective students about Israel’s advancements in technology, humanitarian efforts and how they respect the rights of minorities.

“We gave it to people and they were like, ‘Wow, is this really the case?’” Borans said. “A lot of eyes lit up.”

Borans believes that by the end of April 26, they will have reached 50,000 to 80,000 students.

“We’re thrilled,” Borans said. “There’s never been anything like this attempted before.”

More information about the Celebrate 70 campaign can be found at​.

Letters to the Editor: Trump and Anti-Semitism, UCLA Professor and Gaza Border Clash

Trump and Anti-Semitism

The Anti-Defamation League reports that global anti-Semitism is increasing. I believe that President Donald Trump is the cause. I believe Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury” indicates that Sheldon Adelson paid Trump a huge sum of money to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. It was just another payoff to Trump’s financial contributors. They pay Trump for government jobs and influence to increase their wealth, regardless of how it harms the public. In my opinion, global anti-Semitism will be mitigated only when Israel unilaterally creates a Palestinian state.

Martin J. Weisman, Westlake Village

A Seat at Yamit’s Table

I love Yamit Behar Wood’s recipes and the stories about her family in Bulgaria.

Her fish (“The Sephardic Answer to Gefilte Fish,” Feb. 9) is very similar to the Friday night one my grandmother used to make, but we hardly knew about salmon in Morocco! She made it with white fish, “alosa” or seabream, a very delicate Mediterranean fish that goes particularly well with that sauce (sorry I don’t know the English name for “alosa,” which sadly has a lot of bones but is so tasty).

As for her leek and beef patties (“Passover Meal Prep: Leek and Beef Patties,” March 16), steaming would allow the vegetable to keep its taste better, rather than the boiling method.

Keep up the good work and happy Passover!

Danielle Abitbol via email

UCLA Professor Ousted

After punishment by a formal agreement with the UCLA administration, professor Gabriel Piterberg resumed his legitimate tenured position only to be hounded off the campus by a mob and a cowardly administration (“ULCA Ousts Professor Over Harrasment Claims,” March 23). I would think the Journal would be against mobs.

Wayne Johnson, Santa Monica

The Councilman and the Rothschilds

Bravo to Democrat Trayon White for his apology in blaming a recent snowstorm on the Jews (“D.C. Councilman Apologizes for Blaming Snowstorm on Jews,” March 23).

But who voted for this man who blamed the Rothschilds for creating “natural disasters”? We need to be discerning who we elect. While intellect does not necessarily make one a good person, it sure helps in making a good leader.

Judith N. Cohen, Valley Village

He Doesn’t Miss the ’60s

Having come of age in the ’60s and been a willing participant in the protests of the anti-war movement while at a university, I realize as a senior citizen today that the era should not be thought of as “romantic” in the least.

In her column “Why I Miss the ’60s” (March 30), Dahlia Scheindlin refers to the era as one of solidarity. That was hardly the case. The reality was it was a terribly divisive time in our nation’s history. I marvel at the fact that a “movement” comprising of the likes of pacifists like David Dellinger, loonies like Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman, those sworn to violence like the Black Panthers, and draft evader David Harris, who persuaded others to go to federal prisons for five years for burning their draft cards, could be termed a movement at all.

Rather, the leaders of said “movement” merely chewed up and spit out those of us who were naive enough to ride along so they could further their own egotistical adventures. In the end, they didn’t give a hoot about the rest of us. Better to have gone to Vietnam.

Marc Yablonka via email

Friendship Circle

Kudos to the high school student who wrote “Ethan and Me” (March 16). Her fresh perspective on volunteering for Friendship Circle was delightful and engaging. May other high school students read her column and may it resonate with them to do the same and contact Friendship Circle. This is coming from an adult who has cerebral palsy. Boy, I wish they had Friendship Circle during my youth. The impact must be tremendous for both recipients and givers.

May this fine organization go from strength to strength.

Susan Cohn, Redding

The Back Story of Israeli-Palestinian conflict

In her column “Our Better Angels” (March 30), Danielle Berrin blames both sides equally in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which ignores facts and history. This may make her feel open-minded and fair, but it’s not true and hurts Israel.

Both sides don’t teach their children to commit murder and pay successful terrorists; only the Palestinians do. When the world offered partition plans in 1937 and ’47, the Israelis accepted both; the Arabs rejected both. Israel has made a number of good-faith offers; the Palestinians have rejected them all. Finally, Israel made peace with Jordan and Egypt, painfully uprooting Sinai settlements, while the Palestinians have made peace with no one, not even one another.

Israel isn’t perfect, but failure to make peace is clearly more the Palestinians’ fault.

Rueben Gordon, Encino 

The Value of Genetic Testing

In a story about Dr. Beth Karlan and her most recent efforts focused on hereditary cancer in the Ashkenazi-Jewish community, she emphasized that knowledge is power (“Genetic Testing Could Be Life-Saving for Ashkenazi Jews,” March 23). The BRCA Founder OutReach (BFOR) study shows us that knowledge can save lives and be a helpful tool in preventing BRCA-related cancers in our families and communities.

This is an exciting step forward that empowers us to own our health. Karlan reminded us of the importance of exploring our medical family history and participating in groundbreaking medical research, not only as individuals but also for our communities. It is through the awareness and education of building a family tree and interviewing older generations that we can obtain information to make important life decisions.

This is a cause that GeneTestNow has been focused on for years; as such, we fully support Karlan’s efforts. Determining your carrier status can prevent cancer and save lives. We endorse screening for recessive conditions in individuals of all ethnic backgrounds. Recessive conditions generally do not affect the health of an individual but give information about risk for disease in his or her children.

In that spirit, we also endorse testing for BRCA mutations as this information before marriage, pre-conception, or at any point in life can provide the gift of information and options to create a healthy family, for both parents and children.

Sharon Glaser, Jerry Factor Co-founders,

Driving in Rainy Los Angeles

The Donald Trump-esque temper tantrum of a column by Ilana Angel was an unsightly blemish on an otherwise wonderful issue of the Journal (“Rainy Los Angeles,” March 30).
To equate yourself with a New York City cab driver implies that you are a rude and aggressive driver. To say you are “fearless and able to handle all kinds of weather” is another clue that contrary to what the writer believes, she is most likely not a good, courteous driver, either.

Most drivers in Los Angeles are not natives, anyway. Most of us come from different states and countries. Yes, many drivers here are bad, but we deal with it and soldier on. If that is too much for you, please do us a favor and move back to Canada.

Chris Reiff, Ventura

Gaza Border Clash

The U.N.’s uproar about Israeli forces killing at least 16 Gazan Arabs trying to violently force their way into Israel is disingenuous. Ten terrorists were identified so far among the dead. When combatants hide among civilians, it’s worse than using human shields; it amounts to using bait for the international news media to heap wrath on the Jews.

Action Group for Palestinians of Syria reports that 23 Palestinians were killed in that country’s civil war during March 2018 alone. Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, the body count for Arab Palestinians is 3,685. Nobody complains to the U.N. about these killings or the massacre by Syrian government forces and their allies, such as Hezbollah and Iran, of hundreds of thousands of Arabs.

It seems that the only time people care about dead Arabs is when they are killed while trying to murder Jews or overrun the Jewish state. Author Ayn Rand once said, “In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit.” She was right.

Desmond Tuck via email


‘Parkland Students Share Their Stories,’ March 30:

Stop confusing regulation and removal … they are two different things. Also, be aware that no security officer has ever prevented a shooting at a school when a kid is driven to lash out against one or more peers. Also, instead of pouring money into arming staff at schools, return all the funding that has been slashed for preventive programs including counseling and psych services, community outreach, parenting supports, etc. Those reduce the number of shootings.

Michelle Skigen

‘A Haggadah for Every Taste,’ March 30:

As a non-Jew, I just learned something quite new. I was aware of the Passover storytelling of the haggadah but always thought it was standard and unaltered or unalterable as in holy writ. I had no idea of the room available for telling the same story in differing ways. Very interesting!

Keith Harrison

‘Why I Miss the ’60s,’ March 30:

The real and present danger in school is from bullying. According to the CDC, 4,400 students commit suicide each year due to bullying.

Leonard Holtz

March for Our Lives could perhaps better be looked at as a watershed moment, a catalytic event preceding the many changes we need, promoted by our future leaders.

Terry Godfrey

‘In a Secular Passover, Jews Are Nothing Special,’ March 30:

Jews are here to accomplish big things and little everyday things to improve the world. I’m dismayed that you don’t know this.

Bob Manosky

Passover is about faith. No faith — no meaning.

Joseph Crews

Ben Shapiro’s opinion on how secular Jews should mark Passover is worth as much as mine on how religious Jews should do it. Nothing.

Eugene Kalinsky

‘The Seder of Repairing Ourselves,” March 30:

Very akin to “Be the change you wish to see …” This is so very important because this feeds the collective consciousness of the world.

Barbara Jordan Wampler

Mayim Bialik to Deliver UCLA Commencement

Mayim Bialik. Courtesy of UCLA.

Maybe expressing an unpopular viewpoint could be the theme of Mayim Bialik’s forthcoming commencement address at UCLA.

On April 4, the public university announced its selection of the “The Big Bang Theory” actress and UCLA neuroscientist alumna as the distinguished alumna speaker for the UCLA College commencement on June 15.

“Dr. Bialik embodies the values of a Bruin,” UCLA College Senior Dean Patricia Turner said in a statement. “Throughout her career, she has shown how hard work, determination and civic duty can lead to success. I know that our graduates will be inspired by her story as they set out to make their own mark in the world.”

What she will talk about when she addresses both commencement ceremonies, scheduled for 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., in Pauley Pavilion, remains to be seen, but the experience of expressing challenging opinions during challenging times would be appropriate. Throughout her career, Bialik has never shied from supporting Israel. And following the publication of her 2017 New York Times essay, “Being a Feminist in Harvey Weinstein’s World,” she demonstrated an ability to deal with backlash among those who accused her of victim blaming.

Bialik became a household name portraying the title character in the hit 1990s sitcom, “Blossom.”

After “Blossom” ended in 1995, Bialik enrolled at UCLA. While there, she was active at the campus Hillel, founding a women’s Rosh Chodesh group and participating in Hillel High Holiday services.

She is an observant Jew.

She earned her degree from UCLA in 2000, and her doctorate in 2007, before returning to the screen.

“I had no health insurance and missed performing and making people laugh,” she said in the aforementioned 2017 New York Times piece of her return to acting.

Since 2010, she has appeared on the popular CBS sitcom, “The Big Bang Theory.” She plays Amy Farrah Fowler, a neurobiologist who is romantically involved with Jim Parsons’ Sheldon Cooper.

Israel Basher Leaves UCLA After Sexual Harassment Charges

Photo from YouTube.

The once respected academic career of UCLA historian Gabriel Piterberg has come to an apparent end, not because of his unrelenting hostility toward Israel and Zionism, but due to long-standing sexual harassment charges by two women students.

While Piterberg has denied the accusations, UCLA authorities last week capped a five-year investigation by concluding that he had violated the university’s sexual harassment policy.

As a result, Piterberg agreed to leave UCLA, forego any future employment on any University of California campus and forfeit any future emeritus status, office space and other academic privileges, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday(3/13).

The charges against Piterberg dated back to 2013, when two female graduate students complained to UCLA authorities that the professor had harassed them over many years by making offensive sexual comments, pressing himself against their bodies and forcing his tongue into their mouths.

Piterberg has rejected all requests for media interviews.

Piterberg became a member of the UCLA history faculty in 1999. He soon became a controversial figure on campus, though not for his alleged sexual proclivities.

According to his own resume, Piterberg was born in Buenos Aires but grew up in Israel. He served in the Israeli army in the early 1980s and saw action against the forces of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in southern Lebanon.

After his army discharge, he studied and received academic degrees – all with highest honors – from Tel Aviv University in Middle East history and political science, and a Ph.D. degree from Oxford University, where his research focused on the history of the Ottoman Empire.

Subsequently he taught at England’s University of Durham and at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

After arriving at UCLA, Piterberg seemed set for a bright academic career, advancing to a full professorship in 2008 and in 2013 becoming director of the Gustav von Grunebaum Center for Near Eastern Studies.

At seminars and in specialized scholarly publications Piterberg soon earned a reputation as an unrelenting critic of the creation and existence of Israel.

Until the sexual harassment charges against Piterberg became public, his fellow history professors – like most academics – were loath to criticize a colleague for his opinions, however offensive.

An exception on the UCLA campus was Judea Pearl, a professor of computer science, director of the Cognitive Systems Laboratory and considered one of the world’s foremost authorities on artificial intelligence.

He and his wife Ruth are also co-founders of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, created in memory of their son, a journalist murdered by Islamic extremists in Pakistan in 2002.

Judea Pearl has shown no reluctance to express his abhorrence of Piterberg’s views. He believes that Piterberg’s “scholarly” contributions can be summed up as “bash Israel as viciously as you can, someone might listen and take it seriously.”

Pearl added that “Piterberg belongs to a group of extreme left so-called ‘historians,’ who see their role as the re-interpretation of history to fit their political agenda.

“His agenda is to malign Zionism…which he sees as an organic part of ‘white settler colonialism,’ the 19th century effort by European powers to create societies in their own image by dispossessing the indigenous people…He even attributes Nazi origins and Nazi ideologies to most Zionist leaders.”

Asked what might have turned Piterberg from an Israeli soldier and brilliant student into a bitter foe of the Jewish state, Pearl answered that he was at a loss for an answer.

Meanwhile, the two women students, Kristen Glasgow and Nefertiti Takla, found the UCLA administration less than eager to pursue their case and in 2015 they filed a lawsuit against the University of California.

Although the two women were granted some monetary compensation and Piterberg was told to talk to students only with his office doors open, he continued in his teaching capacity.

But by 2016 campus opinion turned against Piterberg, with large student protests and a petition by 38 history professors complained that “students, staff and faculty must contend with the presence of a harasser in our midst.”

Finally, 10 years after Glasgow’s first humiliating encounter with Piterberg, she learned her harasser had lost his job. She described her reaction on learning the news to the Los Angeles Times as “I cried, I laughed, I screamed. It was 10 years and 10,000 pounds of weight off my shoulders.”

Fareed Zakaria’s Analysis of the State of the World

Photo by Tom Moorehouse.

Should American democracy ever vanish, it will end — like the world in T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Hollow Men” — “not with a bang but a whimper.”

That somber warning was sounded by one of America’s top journalists, Fareed Zakaria, while delivering the Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture at UCLA last week.

Zakaria, 54, born in India and a self-described “nonpracticing Muslim,” is the host of the eponymous Sunday morning CNN television program, frequent contributor to The Washington Post, and, in the judgment of Esquire magazine, “the most influential foreign policy advisor of his generation.”

The annual Pearl lecture, usually given by a top journalist or veteran public figure, commemorates the life and brutal murder of the young Wall Street Journal bureau chief by Islamic extremists in Pakistan in 2002.

The remembrance of Pearl’s death melded with the gist of Zakaria’s warning that this country’s and the world’s democratic values are endangered not by the “bang” of a fascist or communist takeover, but rather the “whimper” of a gradual erosion of long-held standards and ideals.

The erosion is a worldwide phenomenon, but if anyone currently embodies the threat, said Zakaria, it is Donald Trump by virtue of his position as president of the United States and his gradual chipping away of various traditions of behavior and civility.

The world’s democratic values are endangered not by a “bang” but by a “whimper” of a gradual erosion of long-held standards and ideals.

What we are seeing under Trump, he observed, is the collapse of the Republican Party as a gatekeeper of democracy, and the question is whether government agencies will be able to preserve their independence.

Markers in the erosion of standards are the nondisclosure of Trump’s tax returns and an almost daily demeaning of the media, Zakaria said. He warned that future presidents would now find it much easier to ignore past standards and taboos.

During some 90 minutes of stand-up analysis, one-on-one interview with professor Kal Raustiala, director of the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations, and questions from the audience, Zakaria displayed a preternatural grasp of international affairs.

On China: Through a “Make China Great Again” policy, the country’s leaders are raising China’s global standing through economic, rather than military, power.

On Russia: It is now a “spoiler state,” which feels that it gave away too much after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, the country also has an interest in economic stability, which, for instance, affects the price of its oil exports.

On North Korea: Its regime is playing a clever game of deterrence. It will take serious work, not flippant insults, to strike a balance with Kim Jong Un’s regime.

In a rare note of optimism, Zakaria said that despite some chaos at the top, American institutions were still robust, although he particularly deplored the decline of a vibrant local press on the state and municipal levels.

There are, however, also worrying signs elsewhere. Turkey “has become the world’s leading jailer of journalists,” he observed; Hungary and Poland are slowly destroying a free press through economic and financial pressures; and even in England and Israel, there are attempts to limit press freedom.

Zakaria was introduced by Rabbi Aaron Lerner, director of the co-sponsoring Yitzak Rabin Hillel Center for Jewish Life and by UCLA professor Judea Pearl, who with his wife, Ruth, heads the Daniel Pearl Foundation, commemorating their slain son.

Judea Pearl is also a world authority in computer science and artificial intelligence, and even showed his biblical chops by quoting, in Hebrew and English — from the biblical Prophet Zechariah (no relation to the evening’s speaker).