Re: Protest at Israel Event at UCI
Dear Friends, Alumni and Supporters,
This past Wednesday night, May 18th, Students Supporting Israel (SSI) hosted a screening of the film “Beneath the Helmet.” The event was met by protests from Students for Justice in Palestine and other students, who attempted to enter the room where the event was taking place. Aggressive and threatening remarks were shouted at participants. One student was physically intimidated and threatened attempting to join the screening.
In the 36 hours since the event, Miriam and I have spoken one-on-one with students who were at the event to provide support and guidance. We also met with Vice Chancellor, Dr. Thomas Parham, his chief of staff, and Lisa Armony of Hillel and the JFFS.
Miriam and I have served the Jewish Community at UCI for over seven years. Our commitment to the safety and well-being of the students is unwavering. Our experiences over the years, has provided us with a good understanding of the nature of the UCI campus and the needs of the Jewish Students.
Here is excerpt of a statement released by Chancellor Howard Gillam:
"While this university will protect freedom of speech, that right is not absolute. As I mentioned in a campus message at the beginning of the academic year (freespeech.uci.edu ), threats, harassment, incitement and defamatory speech are not protected. We must shelter everyone’s right to speak freely – without fear or intimidation – and allow events to proceed without disruption and potential danger.
"We are thoroughly analyzing all reports and information regarding this incident and investigating whether disciplinary or legal actions are appropriate. "
We appreciate the UCI Administration’s commitment to thoroughly investigating the incident and we intend to stay in direct communication with the Administration as we learn of the results to their inquiry.
We express our gratitude to the UCI Police Department who reacted swiftly and effectively to ensure the students’ safety.
It should be noted that this event occurred during a pro-Israel week at the UCI campus. Thanks to the communication between the UCI Administration, the UCIPD and the pro-Israel Community on campus, all other events were successfully implemented with no disturbances.
Although incidents like this are never acceptable; the day-to-day experience for Jewish Students at UCI continues to thrive. Thanks to supporters like you, Chabad at UCI is able to host weekly Shabbat dinners, educational classes and social events. With your help, we are able to provide a ‘home away from home’ for Jewish Students at UCI throughout the year.
Warm personal regards and Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Zevi Tenenbaum
Co-Director of The Rohr Chabad at UCI