U.s. shorts

Protesters disrupt U.C. Irvine screening of IDF film

Three dozen Jewish and civil rights groups are demanding that U.C. Irvine implement the recently passed U.C. Regents Statement of Principles Against Intolerance, after anti-Israel student protesters disrupted the screening of a film about the Israel Defense Forces last week.

“Jewish students report that UCI administrators have consistently turned a blind eye to acts of anti-Semitism that would have been promptly and vigorously condemned were they directed against any other racial, ethnic or gender minority,” the groups wrote to Chancellor Howard Gillman in a letter organized by the Santa Cruz-based Amcha Initiative.

Students attending the May 18 screening of the Israeli documentary “Beneath the Helmet,” shown under the auspices of the campus Hillel, had to be escorted from the scene by campus police, the Orange County Register reported.

In a campus-wide message sent the next day, Gillman said the incident, which appears to have been coordinated by the campus group Students for Justice in Palestine, “crossed the line of civility.”

Hillel International President and CEO Eric Fingerhut said his group “condemns the actions” of the protesters, who “aggressively confronted and threatened a group of 10 UCI students who were attending a pro-Israel event on campus.”

Citing campus police, observers and video from the scene, the Register reported that about 50 protesters gathered outside the classroom where the film was shown and “began profanity-laced chants against Israel.”

“They were screaming. They tried to push open the door, but we were holding the door from the inside,” Katrin Gendova, president of the pro-Israel group sponsoring the screening, told the Register. She said the attendees were mostly women and some felt intimidated and trapped inside the room.

“They had a lawyer with them who said [they had] a right to come in,” Gendova added. “This is not freedom of speech. It’s harassment.”

In his email, Gillman said that while the university will protect freedom of speech, “threats, harassment, incitement and defamatory speech are not protected.” He also noted that the university administration is “investigating whether disciplinary or legal actions are appropriate.”

Similar incidents have disrupted pro-Israel events at other campuses. Just last month, protesters at San Francisco State University shouted down Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat during a speech.

In March, the U.C. Board of Regents approved a statement condemning anti-Semitic behavior and an accompanying report that urges campus leaders to confront “anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism.” — jta


S.F.-based Be’chol Lashon among 28 projects awarded interfaith grants

Be’chol Lashon, the S.F.-based organization that seeks to grow and strengthen the Jewish people through ethnic, cultural and racial inclusiveness, was one of 28 projects to receive funding under a new matching grants program between the Jewish Funders Network and the Genesis Prize.

The $3.3 million in grants were announced May 22 in New York.

The program was launched in honor of Academy Award-winning actor Michael Douglas, recipient of the 2015 Genesis Prize for his commitment to Jewish values and the Jewish people. He pledged then to use the $1 million prize to reach out to other Jews from intermarried families seeking a connection to the Jewish community, and announced grants to Hillel and the Jewish Funders Network for programs that reach out to intermarried children and couples.

“As someone who is not always welcomed in the Jewish community because my mother was not Jewish, I want to make sure that all those who desire to connect with Jewish culture and heritage have that opportunity,” Douglas said in a statement when the grant program was announced in August.

Douglas’ prize was matched with a $1 million gift from philanthropist Roman Abramovich, creating a matching grant initiative administered by the Jewish Funders Network.

Among the programs that received funding were Honeymoon Israel, which offers subsidized trips to Israel for couples with at least one Jewish partner early in their committed relationship; Jewish ArtEck, a summer camp in Germany open to Jews from intermarried families; and JCC Manhattan, which will establish a program to engage intermarried couples and their families in Jewish life through mentor-led learning groups.

Grant recipients that have a presence in the Bay Area include Be’chol Lashon, Honeymoon Israel, Big Tent Judaism, Interfaith Family, PJ Library, Union for Reform Judaism and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. Each project will run for up to two years. — jta


Trump not going to Israel ‘at the moment’

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said a trip abroad would not be prudent “at the moment” because it would not sway voters.

Trump’s comments, made May 22 to the Wall Street Journal, came amid reports that the Republican Jewish Coalition is planning an Israel trip for the real estate mogul. Earlier this month, Trump said he would visit Israel “soon.”

But speaking to the Journal, Trump said he wants to concentrate his energy on issues in the United States as of now, though a future trip could still be possible.

“I don’t think it registers with the voters to be honest with you,” he told the Journal. “What I really want to do is focus on our country and the election, but I might. I’ve been invited by numerous countries to go.”

The RJC trip reportedly is being planned at the behest of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a leading Republican donor who has pledged his support to Trump. Adelson has urged other Jewish Republican donors to back Trump, arguing that he will be more pro-Israel than likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Trump canceled a planned trip to Israel in December after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the candidate for pledging to bar Muslims from entering into the United States. — jta