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Web Letter

I just happened to read Jon Weiner's article about the situation regarding Jewish and Muslim students on the UCI campus. The article is filled with misinformation used to drive home an ideological vendetta.

I am a close personal friend of Dr. Daniel Schroeter, former Jewish studies professor at UC Irvine, and I was with Daniel through every struggle he had on the UCI campus regarding the difficult situation that has arisen these past few years. Dr. Schroeter did not leave UCI because of any political pressure put on him by the Jewish community. He left purely because of financial pressures that made it impossible for him to stay in the area. There are other personal matters which I am not at liberty to divulge. But there was no one and nothing from any Jewish or "Zionist" circle that led to his exit from UCI.

In fact, Dr. Schroeter enjoyed only the highest reputation in the Jewish community and among all those engaged in the area of Jewish studies. He took a forthright stand against anti-Semitism on the UCI campus and there was not a day he did not agonize over the difficulty that Jewish students, his students, were having daily on campus.

To camouflage the serious of Muslim anti-Semitism that did threaten the daily life of Jewish students does a disservice to the truth. I also have taught courses in Jewish history on campus and I was witness to the torments, threats, violence and daily berating of Jewish students.

I am also a close personal friend of Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi. Both he and I were invited to Dr. Schroeter's classroom to participate in interreligious dialogue sessions, along with programs we did for the UCI student body. No one from the Jewish community ever suggested that Dr. Siddiqi was a "terrorist." To lay that blame on the Jewish faculty, students, or community leadership is a scurrilous lie that is used to try to impress the outside world that the Jewish community is paranoid, Islamophobic and hysterical.

Stop the nonsense and stick with the truth. The Nation by publishing this piece, in my view, has no credibility whatsoever. You should check out facts before printing garbage and rumors.

dr. stuart altshuler, rabbi

Chapman University<br />Laguna Beach, CA

Nov 18 2008 - 8:59pm

Web Letter

Leaving aside the controversy over Daniel Schroeter's decision to leave UCI, an issue I am not qualified to comment on, there is no question in my mind from my own observations over the years at UCI that the MSU has been guilty of bringing radical, hateful speakers to UCI over the years. Many of these speakers are not only anti-Israel but anti-Jewish and anti-America as well. Anti-Semitism (on the part of the MSU) is a problem at UCI. To borrow a line from professor Wiener, I should know. I teach there too, and have since 1998.

Virtually every quarter, the MSU brings in Oakland-based imam Amir Abdel Malik Ali. This is a man who not only condemns Israel and the United States but calls suicide bombers in Israel heroes and martyrs. He defends organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah.

Another controversial speaker is Abdul Alim Musa, a Washington-based imam, who is an ally of the above two organizations and Iran. He speaks of the day when Islam will take over the United States.

Then there is Mohammed Al-Asi, another frequent speaker at UCI sponsored by the MSU. This imam is also a supporter of Hamas, Hezbollah and the Iranian Government. In previous speeches at UCI, he has referred to Jews as "low life ghetto dwellers" and said, "You can take the Jew out of the ghetto, but you can't take the ghetto out of the Jew." In his last appearance at UCI in May, in which I was present, he gave ominous warnings to the Jews to get out of "Palestine" before it is too late. (I am paraphrasing.)

Also, during the MSU-sponsored events in May, they erected a mock wall depicting the wall Israel has erected to keep out suicide bombers. On that wall were numerous photos, phrases and slogans. Most notably, there was a cartoon depiction of Ariel Sharon drawn in the old style of Julius Streicher's Der Stürmer, a notorious anti-Semitic newspaper of the Third Reich. The picture showed Sharon with all the stereotypical Jewish features, huge hooked nose, big lips and a leering expression on his face. That drawing remained there for an entire week.

These are examples of why I consider the MSU to be sympathetic to terrorism directed against Israel and to be anti-Semitic (though they deny it).

In addition, I have nothing but criticism for the administration at UCI. They deny charges of anti-Semitism at UCI and defend "free speech." I too defend free speech. No one is dragging these hateful characters off to jail, and I don't advocate that. However, I call this what it is: hate speech. I also believe that the UCI administration has been indifferent to Jewish complaints of anti-Semitism at the university. They have failed to provide a safe and peaceful environment for their Jewish students.

Wiener passes off complaints as coming from "right-wing" Zionists" and three Republican senators. His repeated use of the term "right-wing Zionists" betrays his political agenda. Anti-Semitic hate speech should not be an issue of liberal vs. conservative nor an item of concern for only Jewish Zionists. Reasonable people can disagree on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. However, for this issue to lead to expressions of anti-Jewish sentiment on an American campus is wrong.

As I have stated repeatedly, 99 percent of the students at UCI are not involved in this ugliness. There are two problems; a radical MSU and an indifferent administration and faculty. As a result, what should be a great university has acquired a notorious national reputation-which, as far as I am concerned, it deserves.

Gary C. Fouse

UC Irvine<br>Irvine, CA

Jul 27 2008 - 7:15pm

Web Letter

Professor Wiener attributes Daniel Schroeter's decision to accept an offer from the University of Minnesota to pressure from "some local Jewish activists" for not taking a public position in favor of the Zionist Organization of America's campaign against the Muslim Student Union's annual April celebration of "Zionist Awareness Week," when radical Islamic speakers are invited to campus to promote not a peaceful solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict but rather to support the Hamas, Hezbollah and Iranian call for the destruction of Israel. Professor Wiener apparently objects to the ZOA position that Jews have the same right under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to federal protection from anti-Semitism that African-Americans have to protection against racism. I would urge Professor Wiener and all my colleagues to use their right to free speech to speak out against hate speech, no what matter what group may be targeted.

Since I was on the search committee that chose Daniel Schroeter for the Teller Family Chair in Jewish History fourteen years ago, I strongly object to the distortions in Professor Wiener's article. I was disappointed when I first heard that Pofessor Schroeter was considering leaving UCI and I spoke to him about the pros and cons involved in his decision. Yes, he did mention criticism that he had received from some members of the off-campus Jewish community but by far, his reasons for preferring the University of Minnesota were: (1) a considerably higher salary; (2) more money available for research and travel; (3) a larger program in Jewish Studies with more colleagues and students; (4) cheaper real estate. Professor Wiener mentions two of the above four reasons, midway through his article, but subordinates them to harassment by "right-wing Zionists." Are all Zionists right-wingers? Why does Professor Wiener name the three Republican senators who expressed "concern regarding anti-Semitic incidents aimed at Jewish students" at UCI but fails to identify the five members of Congress who also expressed concern? Were some of them Democrats?

As UCI's first Chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures and later of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, and as a former chair of the Academic Senate (1982-1984), I would like to remind Professor Wiener that his responsibility as a teacher and research scholar is to be as objective as possible and not to succumb to today's somewhat fashionable goal of indoctrinating his students and readers.

Seymour Menton

Irvine, CA

Jul 25 2008 - 5:59pm