Skip To Content

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe

Cal Irvine Students Met with Hamas Leader

Students from the University of California, Irvine met with a Hamas leader during a student trip to Israel.

The Institute for Jewish and Community Research said it learned recently that the university’s branch of the Olive Tree Initiative, an Israeli-Palestinian peace organization, arranged for a meeting between the Irvine students and a Hamas leader in the West Bank while the students were on a trip to Israel in September 2009. The communal organization is protesting the meeting.

According to an October 2009 letter sent to Irvine’s chancellor by the Jewish Federation of Orange County, California, the students were told to keep the meeting secret. That was to avoid problems re-entering Israel, the letter alleged, and angering local Jewish organizations, including the federation, which is the initiative’s biggest funder.

The letter said the federation had reviewed the trip itinerary ahead of time with the faculty member and graduate students in charge, and were “surprised to learn” afterward “that they conducted an unapproved, off-itinerary meeting with Aziz Duwaik.” The federation has demanded that the university investigate the incident.

Duwaik is the speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, but the federation letter pointed out that for years he had been a leader of Hamas, which the United States classifies as a terrorist organization.

The Institute for Jewish and Community Research this week is adding its voice to the federation’s, urging UC Irvine to “respond to this serious misuse of funds and gross violation of public trust.”

The University of California system is facing federal anti-Semitism complaints against its Berkeley and Santa Cruz campuses. In December 2007, a federal civil rights investigation into similar allegations at UC Irvine by the Department of Education found “insufficient evidence” that the university failed to respond to complaints by Jewish students that they were being harassed.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.