Responding To ZOA Complaints, UC Irvine Refers Muslim Student Group’s Troubling Activities To Law Enforcement Officials And Begins Internal Investigation
News
October 1, 2009

In response to concerns raised by the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) – that the Muslim Student Union (MSU), a registered student group on campus, may have illegally used the University of California, Irvine (UCI) as a base for fundraising for the terrorist group Hamas – the ZOA was notified by UCI today that “the University has referred that matter to law enforcement officials for action as they deem appropriate.” In response to related concerns raised by the ZOA – that the conduct of University employees and the MSU may have violated University policies – UCI notified the ZOA that the University has “initiated an internal review of these matters, and will proceed as expeditiously as possible.” In a letter faxed to the ZOA last night, Diane Fields Geocaris, UCI’s Chief Campus Counsel and Associate General Counsel, said, “UC Irvine takes very seriously all allegations of wrongdoing. We appreciate your [ZOA] bringing this to our attention.” Ms. Geocaris sent copies of her letter to UC President Mark Yudof, UCI Chancellor Michael Drake, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, U.S. Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA), and California Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, among others. (To read UCI’s letter, click here.)

 

On September 22, 2009, the ZOA sent a letter to Diane Fields Geocaris, UCI’s Chief Campus Counsel and Associate General Counsel, after receiving information about the conduct of the MSU and University officials in connection with an MSU-sponsored event last May. At the event, the MSU and its featured speaker George Galloway solicited funds from the audience for “Viva Palestina,” Galloway’s convoy to Gaza. In the letter, the ZOA expressed concern that the funds raised may have been delivered to the terrorist group Hamas in Gaza in July 2009.

 

The U.S. State Department has designated Hamas as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), and providing material support and resources to an FTO is illegal. In its letter, the ZOA questioned the legality of the MSU’s and Galloway’s conduct, and also alleged numerous violations of UCI policies and regulations by the MSU. Chief among them was the MSU’s misrepresentation to UCI that the Galloway event was not going to be a fundraiser. In addition, the ZOA raised concerns about the conduct of UCI officials at the Galloway event, who either knew or should have known that fundraising had not been authorized by the university and was potentially illegal, but did nothing to stop it, and apparently did not report the unauthorized fundraising to senior officials. (To read the ZOA’s letter, click here.)

 

George Galloway is a British Parliament member who, in March 2009, led a convoy of trucks loaded with supplies from the United Kingdom to Gaza. Called “Viva Palestina UK,” the convoy was supposedly providing humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. But after he arrived in Gaza, Galloway gave a public address in the presence of senior Hamas officials. He announced the donations – which included more than 100 vehicles and approximately 1.4 million dollars – and proclaimed, “We are giving them to the elected government of Palestine.”

 

After his March 2009 trip to Gaza, Galloway tried to go to Canada but was refused entry. According to one news report, a spokesperson for Canada’s immigration ministers explained that Galloway “actually brags about giving ‘financial support’ to Hamas, a terrorist organization banned in Canada. . . . I’m sure Galloway has a large Rolodex of friends in regimes elsewhere in the world willing to roll out the red carpet for him. Canada, however, won’t be one of them.”

 

When he returned from Gaza, Galloway went on a speaking tour in the United States, in order to organize a Viva Palestina convoy from the U.S. One of the campuses he visited was UCI, as part of the MSU’s annual anti-Semitic, Israel-bashing event in May 2009, called “Israel: The Politics of Genocide.”

 

At his presentation on May 21, 2009, Galloway and members of the MSU solicited funds for the Viva Palestina US convoy from the more than 850 people in the audience. Collection boxes were distributed and volunteers were designated to collect them.

 

Upon learning about the MSU’s and Galloway’s actions at the event, the ZOA called on UCI to investigate and sanction the MSU for its possibly illegal conduct and its numerous violations of UCI policies and regulations. A fundamental concern was that the MSU misrepresented to university officials about what was going to take place at the Galloway event. It represented in writing that the Galloway event was not going to be a fundraiser. The representation was false.

 

University policies and regulations required that the MSU obtain the university’s approval to solicit funds, which it failed to do. Nor did it comply with several other university policies and regulations.

 

University officials either knew or should have known that the solicitation of funds at the event had been neither disclosed by the MSU nor approved by UCI. At least four officials were present at the Galloway event where funds were solicited from the crowd. Yet not one put a stop to the conduct.

 

One university official submitted a report about the event to Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Manuel Gomez. The solicitation of funds by the MSU and Galloway was not even mentioned.

 

The ZOA sent copies of its letter to UCI’s Chancellor Michael Drake, UC President Mark Yudof, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, U.S. Congressman Brad Sherman and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, among others.

 

Morton A. Klein, the ZOA’s National President, and Susan B. Tuchman, Esq., the director of the ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, expressed their appreciation of and satisfaction with UC Irvine’s response to the ZOA’s concerns: “Over the past several years, the ZOA has received numerous reports from UC Irvine students that University officials have overlooked or failed to enforce university policies and regulations when it comes to the Muslim Student Union. Now, when it appears that the Muslim Student Union may have used the campus as a base for fundraising for a U.S.-designated terrorist group, we are gratified that UC Irvine has taken the matter seriously and referred it to law enforcement officials. The ZOA will also be contacting law enforcement officials to underscore the seriousness of what occurred on the UC Irvine campus last May. We are also pleased to know that UC Irvine will be investigating whether the MSU and the University’s own employees violated UC Irvine policies. If policies were violated, then the violators must be held accountable.

 

“UC Irvine is a public institution financed and supported by public funds. It owes the public its guarantee that all policies and regulations will be fully and fairly enforced, and that no group will be given special treatment and exempted from following the rules. This surely includes making certain that the university is not enlisted in any possibly illegal activity, or used in any way to support a terrorist group like Hamas which is committed to murdering innocent people. In an era where Islamist terrorism is a worldwide and constant threat, we must be especially vigilant.

 

“The University has taken an important and positive first step and we applaud them for it. We and the rest of the public look forward to confirmation that UC Irvine has followed through on its representations and that these matters of serious concern are investigated thoroughly. If wrongdoing is found, the public’s concerns will be allayed by knowing that the wrongdoers are being punished.

 

“We wish to encourage people to contact us at the ZOA if they or their families or friends become aware of similar situations on other campuses, where it appears that our colleges and universities are being used to support and promote terrorist groups like Hamas.”

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