Staunch support for Israel should not cost student senator his post

Next week, students on the U.C. Berkeley campus will take part in a special election, with only one question on the ballot: whether to recall John Moghtader, a senator with the Associated Students of the University of California.

Based on the evidence we have seen, not only would we urge students to vote no on the recall, we would question the wisdom of staging this election at all.

Moghtader is a proud and loud supporter of Israel. Last year, he co-founded Tikvah, a Jewish student group intended to counter the pro-Palestinian presence on campus. Last October, Moghtader and his Tikvah cohorts noisily disrupted a lecture by the anti-Israel academic Norman Finkelstein.

Then, Moghtader made headlines in November when he was involved in an altercation between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian students, triggered when the Students for Justice in Palestine group draped a Palestinian flag over the site of a pro-Israel concert.

Though the D.A. declined to press charges, and Moghtader’s role in the fight remains unclear, we do not condone or excuse any violence on a college campus.

However, the petition to demand Moghtader’s recall from Cal’s student senate, and the costly special election being held next week, strike us as an overreaction, likely motivated by ideology.

The petition accused Moghtader of various unstated “inappropriate” acts infringing on free speech and also of contributing to an “unsafe” atmosphere for students.

However, the petition failed to cite specific dereliction of duty on Moghtader’s part. By all appearances, he has been a good ASUC senator, serving the student body well.

The anti-Israel students who shepherded the recall to this point appeared to have worked the system. With 30,000 students enrolled, only 1,000 signatures are needed to recall. The student-run Judicial Council then ruled against every challenge Moghtader brought before it, even when only a handful of justices were present.

None of that is illegal or improper. But considering no ASUC senator has been recalled in decades, one would think the bar for recall should be higher.

Then there is the hypocrisy quotient. Had Moghtader raised his fists in defense of Palestinians, we doubt he would face recall today.

John Moghtader may have at times acted hastily or improperly. We simply don’t know all the facts. But recalling him based on flimsy evidence smacks us as unfair and wrong.