Pro-Israel Student Wins California Regents Board Election After Fierce Debate

Muslim Predecessor Votes Against Avi Oved


By Jennifer Chaussee

Published July 16, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

(Reuters) — A student with strong ties to Israel was appointed to the governing council of the University of California Wednesday amid debate similar to that which arose last year after the Board of Regents chose a Muslim student active in Palestinian causes.

Abrahem “Avi” Oved, a 21-year-old economics major at UCLA who will replace Sadia Saifuddin, a UC Berkeley student who is the board’s first Muslim student member as student regent, said he would work with all students and represent them on the board.

“I want to work with students on the ground, and that should be the focus of this position - empowering students and giving them the resources they need to be heard,” said Oved, whose parents are from Israel.

Oved drew controversy in the 10-campus UC system when a student newspaper published emails that appeared to connect him to a passionately pro-Israel activist whose Twitter posts have included pictures he said were of “Muslim thugs” at a Los Angeles demonstration.

“The concern at this point is whether there is trust between Avi and students,” said Kareem Aref, President of the UC Student Association.

The emails appear to show that the activist, Adam Milstein, contributed funds for use by students running for campus government positions at UCLA who described themselves as pro-Israel.

“This obviously is a continuing effort to harass and intimidate students who are pro-Israel,” Milstein said Wednesday.

Saifuddin, a social welfare major at the prestigious University of California at Berkeley, was the only member of the board to oppose Oved’s appointment, saying she voted in solidarity with students who felt uncomfortable with his appointment.

Last year, when she was appointed, Jewish groups including the prominent Simon Wiesenthal Center strongly objected to her nomination, citing her involvement in a campaign to divest university funds from companies with business connections to the Israeli military.

They also objected to her sponsoring a student senate resolution that condemned a lecturer at the system’s Santa Cruz campus for what the resolution said was Islamophobic rhetoric.

At that time, Council on American-Islamic Relations spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said opponents who disagreed with Saifuddin’s politics wanted to unjustly exclude her from civic participation.

“Any time an American Muslim rises to a prominent position, or starts to rise to prominence, that tiny minority of ‘Islamophobes’ in our society goes into action and seeks to marginalize and disenfranchise that individual,” Hooper said.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • The rose petals have settled, and Andi has made her (Jewish?) choice. We look back on the #Bachelorette finale:
  • "Despite the great pain and sadness surrounding a captured soldier, this should not shape the face of this particular conflict – not in making concessions and not in negotiations, not in sobering assessments of this operation’s achievements or the need to either retreat or move forward." Do you agree?
  • Why genocide is always wrong, period. And the fact that some are talking about it shows just how much damage the war in Gaza has already done.
  • Construction workers found a 75-year-old deli sign behind a closing Harlem bodega earlier this month. Should it be preserved?
  • "The painful irony in Israel’s current dilemma is that it has been here before." Read J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis of the conflict:
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.