The U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a report early December exonerating UC Irvine and a campus Muslim student group of anti-Semitism charges.
The investigation was launched in 2004 following complaints from the Zionist Organization of America and other pro-Israel right wing groups who repeatedly accused UCI officials of failing to respond to reports of anti-Semitic remarks on campus.
The UCI Muslim Student Union, also known as MSU, in particular had come under attack by Zionist groups for holding “Palestinian Awareness Week,” in which a number of invited speakers condemned the treatment of Palestinians under Israeli rule.
In the report, OCR stated, “The speeches, articles, marches, symbols and other events at issue were not based on the national origin of the Jewish students, but rather based on opposition to the policies of Israel.”
Other unfounded allegations included that the university failed to censor graduation soles that contained anti-Semitic script by Muslim students. The investigation concluded that the soles merely displayed the Islamic testament of faith, also known as the “shahadah”, and that there was no evidence of any hate content.
The MSU welcomed the report.
“The MSU has been reiterating for the past seven years that our politics are not against a particular creed or group of people, but rather against unjust and inhumane treatment of Palestinians at the hands of Israeli officials,” said MSU president Omar Zarka. “These accusations sought to silence dissent and to push a Zionist agenda under a cloak of anti-Semitism.”
Zarka added that the MSU had invited a diverse range of speakers to speak about the situation in Palestinian including prominent Jewish figures like Rabbi Weiss and Norman Finkelstein.
The local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations or CAIR also expressed satisfaction at OCR’s findings.
“We welcome the U.S. Department of Education’s investigation, which affirmed that UCI is a diverse and open campus that treats all students equally,” said Hussam Ayloush, executive director of CAIR-LA.
Chancellor Michael V. Drake also issued a statement saying that campus officials are “very gratified with the outcome and closure of this matter.”
“We are firmly committed to freedom of speech and open discourse, which are central to our missions of teaching, research and public service, and equally committed to maintaining a safe, non-threatening environment for all members of our campus community,” Drake said