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ZOA Accuses ADL of Hogging Spotlight

The campus of the University of California at Irvine, long a breeding ground for controversy and anti-Israel activism, has stirred up another fight — this time between a pair of Jewish organizations. Morton Klein, president of the pro-Israel advocacy group the Zionist Organization of America, has sent a scolding letter to Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, accusing the ADL of doing too little about the anti-Israel activities at UC Irvine, and of trying to steal credit from the ZOA for bringing the issue to national attention.

The letter said that public statements by the ADL’s Orange County regional director create “the mis-impression that the ADL has been at the forefront of advocating change at UCI, when nothing could be further from the truth…. According to UCI students and faculty, to the extent there have been positive changes on the campus, the improvements are largely due to the ZOA’s legal effort.”

Foxman responded with his own letter to Klein, suggesting that both organizations deserved credit, and added, “We should be spending our time fighting anti-Semitism, not each other.”

Neither organization would comment for this story.

This is not the first time that Klein and Foxman have tangled. They have clashed frequently in the press, and in 1999 the two nearly came to blows at the ceremonial opening of the Israeli Pavilion at Disney World.

In October 2004, the ZOA filed a complaint against UC Irvine with the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education. In November 2007, the Department of Education dismissed the claims, saying that they were supported by “insufficient evidence.”

That finding was challenged by three Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee — Arlen Specter, Jon Kyl and Sam Brownback — who sent a letter February 27 to Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, asking her to clarify the department’s decision and questioning the department’s investigation and its findings.

Meanwhile, anti-Israel activism based at UC Irvine has continued apace, most recently on March 7, when the university’s Muslim Student Union organized a protest outside the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles. A video of the protest, taken by the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, showed firebrand Muslim cleric Amir Abdel Malik Ali urging Muslims to tell Zionists, “For us, you are the Nazis.”

Pro-Israel groups organized a counter-protest across the street.

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