Friday, November 21, 2008


This has already been posted at my own blog (At the Back of the Hill, but I am opportunistically posting it here to give it wider exposure.

Background: On Thursday November 13 there was a confrontation between alleged Palestinian students and several Jewish students at UC Berkeley. Since then, the 'Students for Justice in Palestine' have ramped up the hate-filled rhetoric, on a campus already sodden with anti-Israel bias, in an attempt to have certain Jews expelled and the pro-Israel students silenced. The city and university at Berkeley have for a long time represented a far-left extremism, and as you can probably guess, being pro-Israel, being a Zionist, or even being a non-quivering Jew, are considered politically incorrect in Berkeley.

By John E. Moghtader & Elodie Resseguie

Long a hotbed of anti-Israel activity, U.C. Berkeley has barely had a strong pro-Israel presence on campus. Until now, with Tikvah: Students for Israel, the Zionist student group at U.C. Berkeley.

We are the group that stepped up to protest when academics John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt visited Cal in October 2007 to hawk their book, a nefarious smear job titled "The Jewish Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy."

We were also there last month when the virulently anti-Israel academic Norman Finkelstein came to speak.

Before the lecture, we respectfully distributed our literature outside. Once inside, Finkelstein’s level of anti-Semitic vitriol prompted a walkout of Tikvah students and others not associated with our group. We shouted out our opinions while exiting, as the crowd hurled expletives at us. Finkelstein and his colleague then continued delivering their insulting lies.

As a result, the dean of students is now seeking to discipline Tikvah and individual students for an "offense" which in the past barely warranted mention when undertaken by student groups involved in anti-Israel activities.

For example, when Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes tried to speak on campus several years ago, he was shouted down by members of Students for Justice in Palestine and the Muslim Student Association. At the time the chancellor said, "Uncivil behavior, lamentable as it is, is not a crime, nor is it a violation of the Code of Student Conduct." No disciplinary action was taken against SJP or its members for that incident, nor when Nonie Darwish was likewise shouted down a year ago.

Only last week, SJP disrupted an innovative Zionist hip-hop concert on campus. Even though no Jewish students were involved in the physical altercation that ensued (contrary to what was reported in the school paper and what SJP claims), we wait to see how the university will deal with the assailants from SJP.

Other violations by SJP of the U.C. code of conduct — such as blocking of pedestrian traffic with demonstrations, the brandishing of fake firearms, physical harassment and intimidation of Jewish students — were presented to the dean of students but have been ignored.

What we see here is a double standard, one for the rest of campus and another for the Jews and those who actively support Israel.
Our tax dollars support the U.C. system, and Jewish donors are very prominent in supporting the U.C. campuses. It’s time for the Jewish community to become aware of what is happening at our university.

Meanwhile, Tikvah has a consistent record of positive, pro-Israel programming on campus. Until our inception a year ago, there was no substantive pro-Israel voice on campus. We changed that, attracting students of various religious and cultural backgrounds to our cause. We have collaborated with many off-campus groups, including the Israeli Consulate, Israel Peace Initiative, S.F.-based Jewish Community Relations Council, U.C. Berkeley Chabad, CAMERA, StandWithUs, JIMENA and more. Once again Jews walk with pride across Sproul Plaza.

We have also sponsored many successful events. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we took out ads in the student newspaper highlighting the civil rights leader’s strong support of the Jewish state. We have hosted lectures by Dennis Prager, Stanley Urman, Israeli Vice Consul Ishmael Khaldi (who spoke about being the highest-ranking Muslim in the Israeli foreign service) and others.

Last year we held two weeklong programs brimming with pro-Israel activities: Israel Peace and Diversity Week and Israel@60 Week (which included a widely attended on-campus Holocaust memorial on Yom HaShoah). We just finished our latest effort, Israel Liberation Week, and we have also been a positive influence on student government, with John Moghtader, a current senator in the Associated Students of the University of California, leading our group.

Regarding the Jewish Student Union and Berkeley Hillel, we must clarify misstatements that ran in j. Even though Tikvah is the largest and most active Jewish student group on campus, we have been allocated precisely zero dollars from the JSU this school year.
While the JSU and Berkeley Hillel remain silent, we are the ones on Sproul Plaza and around campus protesting the Finkelsteins of the world, educating students about Israel, organizing rallies and holding Holocaust memorials.

We were dumbfounded to find that Hillel is presuming to play some role in all this, as Tikvah has never been affiliated with Berkeley Hillel, nor have we ever received funds from them for any of our activities.

We are a grassroots student group. Our goal is to make sure Jewish students do not have to be subjected to a hostile anti-Israel, anti-Semitic environment on campus. That’s our bottom line.

John E. Moghtader, a third-year undergraduate at U.C. Berkeley, is an Associated Students of the University of California senator and president of Tikvah.
Elodie Resseguie is a fourth-year undergraduate at U.C. Berkeley and is on the Tikvah executive board. To learn more about Tikvah, e-mail or visit


Message above reproduced here as a courtesy. This blogger both sympathizes with them and admires their courageous stand.

Please give Tikvah your attention and support, visit their site, and blogroll it. Thank you.

Posted on Friday November 21, 2008 at 1:20 PM - Pacific Standard Time.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד


Anonymous said...

Silly Tikvah, no one agrees with your stupid and racist beliefs.

Innovative hip hop? That concert was a PATHETIC excuse for hip-hop, as anyone who passed by could plainly see.

I would also like to add that your racist rhetoric speaks for itself, and it's sort of disgusting that all of a sudden you're toning down your words. Where are those posters you hang up all the time on your table about Arabs and Muslims being inherently barbaric and misogynistic?

Why don't you stand up for your real beliefs now that you're in the spotlight? Why did John Moghtader solemnly swear that he is committed to advocating for Palestinian rights in front of almost a hundred people at a senate meeting? Sounds like if Moghtader should be joining SJP right about now...

It's pretty clear: you're a group of unprincipled, sad and frustrated kids who don't actually have any understanding of the situations and people you claim to represent.

Your articles are intentionally libelous and misleading, and your attempts are simply a disgrace to discerning and intelligent people, so please stop with this bullshit and just apologize to the community you have violently attacked on multiple occasions.

Oh, and hey, if you're so enthusiastic about your presence at the Finklestein event, why don't you link this video:

and let people decide who was "hurling expletives". Sad, sad, sad. Didn't you publicly announce that saying "from the river to the sea" was a violent statement? Either you are hypocrites (which you are) or you advocate violence (which you do) so please cool down and get a new hobby.

sincerely signed,

One more student tired of your bullshit

Anonymous said...

get a life mr. anonymous. tikvah is the only voice of reason at uc berkeley. islamo-fascist hate groups like Students for Justice in Palestine have been spreading hate for years and its about time somebody stand up to them and call them out on their BS. there is only hope for berkeley as long as groups like tikvah exist. SJP needs to end its racist, anti-semitic activities so that people can live comfortable at cal, free from the nasty tactics of SJP. keep it up tikvah! those of us with reason and logic and a sense of wuts right and wrong stand with you!

Anonymous said...

The Berkeley Tikvah students did an amazing job of turning Israel apartheid week into Israel peace and diversity week.
There are photos on their facebook site, and all over the Internet


Anonymous said...

Thank you Tikvah, for giving other Berkeley students hope! This is the first time in memory that an organized student body is fighting back on a campus that many had given up on.

We wish you luck.

Anonymous said...

Stifling Pro-Israel Views at UC Berkeley
By: Reut R. Cohen
Friday, May 01, 2009

John Moghtader, a senator in student government at UC Berkeley, has experienced the forced removal from student office due to a personal smear campaign against him that was launched by the campus’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and their supporters in student government. Moghtader, a previous senator with UC Berkeley’s Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC), the student government, is also the president of a student group known as Tikvah: Students for Israel (Tikvah SFI) that is devoted to Israel advocacy on campus. It is the only serious voice of opposition to a near constant drumbeat of pro-Palestinian Israel-bashing activism on the Berkeley campus.

On November 13, 2008, on an Eschelman Hall balcony overlooking a concert being held on LowerSproulPlaza by the Zionist Freedom Alliance, a brief physical altercation broke out between concertgoers and activists from Students for Justice in Palestine. The incident occurred after SJP students hung Palestinian flags at the Zionist event in violation of ASUC policy that says groups must have consent before they hang flags. Moghtader was in the area of the fight but was clearly uninvolved, according to both eyewitnesses and a video taken at the event. The videotape has been viewed by the District Attorney of Northern California and UC Berkeley’s student newspaper editorial board, but has not been released to the public because it may be used as evidence during a criminal court case.

According to eyewitnesses from both Tivkah SFI and the Zionist Freedom Alliance, Husam Zakharia, an SJP student, reportedly started the fight by punching a recent pro-Israel alumnus attending the concert in the right cheek. These eyewitness accounts plus the video which was seen by editorial board of the Berkeley paper and the ASUC attorney general, Michael Sinanian, led Mr. Sinanian to conclude that the recall against Moghtader was “based on lies.”

The SJP students, however, claimed that Moghtader hit two female members of their group, including a female student named Dina Omar. SJP members also claimed Moghtader made derogatory and racist comments — despite video and eyewitness evidence that suggests the senator’s involvement was nonexistent.

The SJP students involved in the alleged altercation were contacted for this article but did not respond to questions regarding their involvement and the potential lawsuit against Dina Omar.

These alleged false charges by Ms. Omar and other SJP students led to a recall election to remove Moghtader from office, an election which in times of great financial duress for the UC system, has cost the University of California $25,000.

Mr. Moghtader expressed his frustration and concern regarding what he says can only be characterized as a smear campaign against him.

“It’s been really difficult. This whole ordeal has lasted many months now. It’s been about five months, almost six months,” he told me. “It’s been really draining on me. I learned that standing up for Israel on a college campus doesn’t come without a price. For me, and my group, there was a lot of intimidation, bullying—things like that. Because I was a pro-Israel senator I feel that I had a target on my back. It has been very challenging.”

While John Moghtader was busy fending off false and very serious charges from the SJP, he had hoped to count on support from established Jewish organizations on campus. But rather than supporting John, Hillel, the largest campus Jewish organization, its affiliated students groups, and the Hillel director, Ken Kramarz, have echoed SJP's smear campaign against the former ASUC senator. Kramarz has done so in statements to media, to the Jewish community, and in a national conference call — without soliciting John's response to SJP's allegations. Hillel's left-leaning subgroup, Kesher Enoshi, condemned Moghtader in the daily school paper and supported the recall campaign against him.

Moghtader expressed his dismay that Jewish organizations did not come to his defense or even remain objective regarding the episode, noting that Hillel was quick to issue a statement condemning pro-Israel students while sympathizing with the SJP students.

“I’m not pleased at all with the way Hillel has handled the situation,” Moghtader explained. “Immediately following the incident on November 13 Hillel issued a statement condemning the mutual violence without investigating. It was the Jewish students that were attacked up there.”

The now-removed ASUC senator also pointed out that the school newspaper editorial board, who have been allowed to view video evidence, took his side and urged students to vote “no” on recalling him from his student government seat. “The school newspaper endorsed me flat out,” Moghtader says. “The school paper jumped to my defense while I was begging the Jewish organizations to help me out.”

Some have reasonably asked why the exonerating video was not released to the student body Moghtader explained that he was under strict advice from his attorney but that he discussed the fact that a video vindicating him existed. “I was under advisement not to release the video because it could be used in a libel case. Showing it in a public way would potentially jeopardize the case,” said Moghtader. “I knew that there was a video showing me standing off to the side during the altercation. I even said a few days after the fight in an op-ed that I had a video that proves me to be innocent. Every opportunity I got I said that I was innocent. I tried to make my case. I was honest, forthright.”.

Moghtader believes that the students who made the false charges against him ought to be held accountable for what they put him and the entire campus through, including the $25,000 of University of California money used to forcibly remove him from his student government seat. When a case was presented to the state District Attorney in Northern California, no charges were brought against John Moghtader or any other Jewish student.

The trumped up charges against John Moghtader are so rooted in fraudulent claims, say witnesses and supporters of the former senator, that Moghtader and his attorney feel they’ll be able to win a libel lawsuit against the SJP students who weaved a melodramatic story about Jewish students attacking so-called innocent Palestinian supporters.

Regardless of where one stands on the Israel-Arab conflict or any other political issue, it is clear that Moghtader did not do anything to warrant removal from office. The SJP organization and ASUC owe him and the entire campus an apology. Moghtader, who is by all accounts an innocent man, was forcibly removed from student office because his political views varied from the anti-Israel students at UC Berkeley who lied in order to stifle an opposing view.

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