Letter from ZOA to Jordan Fruchtman of Hillel
"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act" George Orwell
From: "Susan Tuchman"
Date: November 29, 2010 4:05:18 PM PST
To: "Jordan Fruchtman"
Subject: RE: serious concerns about your support of the Olive Tree Initiative
We were appalled to learn about the Olive Tree Initiative’s anti-Israel bias, which Professor Tammi Benjamin documented in extraordinary detail. While we knew that the Olive Tree Initiative (OTI) has had little if any impact on the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric that has plagued the UCI campus for years, we were unaware that most of the speakers on the last OTI trip advocated harming and even destroying the Jewish State. We were equally horrified to learn about how insensitively and disrespectfully the Jewish holy days of Shabbat and Rosh Hashanah were treated on last year’s trip, particularly in contrast to the sensitivity and respect accorded to the Muslim holiday of Ramadan.
We were perplexed and troubled that you didn’t respond to any of Professor Benjamin’s powerful and disturbing evidence that the OTI promotes hatred and hostility toward the Jewish State of Israel. Given the evidence, how in the world does the OTI further Hillel’s goals of nurturing Jewish identity and building strong, informed and effective advocates for Israel?
You stated that “Hillel does not financially or publicly support anti-Israel activities as a matter of principle and practice,” but that does not appear to be the case. There’s no question that Hillel has promoted and supported the OTI, if not with dollars than with its public endorsement. For example, Hillel has touted the OTI on its Web site. See http://www.hillel.org/about/news/2008/nov/oc_hillel_2008nov25.htm. And when the OTI presented “Beyond Stereotypes, Faces and Voices of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” at UCI, Hillel was listed as one of its institutional supporters, and you were listed as an individual supporter.
Given the OTI’s anti-Israel bias and the lack of respect that was shown on last year’s trip to the Jewish faith and traditions, Professor Benjamin urged Hillel to reconsider promoting and supporting the OTI. The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) urges Hillel to terminate all promotion of and support for this anti-Israel program. There are many other worthy endeavors that actually foster Jewish identity and build knowledge and understanding of Israel and the Middle East conflict, which deserve Hillel’s backing. The OTI is not one of them.
We look forward to your direct response to Professor Benjamin’s concerns and particularly to whether Hillel will discontinue supporting and promoting the OTI.
Morton A. Klein, ZOA National President
Susan B. Tuchman, Esq., Director, ZOA's Center for Law and Justice