Avi Oved is not our student regent

Throughout the history of the University of California, the UC Board of Regents have consistently turned a blind eye to issues facing Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian, or AMEMSA, communities. From UC Santa Cruz lecturer Tammi Benjamin, who last year publicly claimed that Muslim Student Associations were allied with terrorist groups, to the deafening lack of administrative response toward spying on UC students on educational visits to the Middle East by right-wing political advocacy group AMCHA, to the administration’s failure to protect students from racially charged intimidation campaigns intended to silence their political participation, the Board of Regents have done little to protect UC students from systematic discrimination.

The campus climate report ordered under then-UC president Mark Yudof in 2012 revealed how ineffective the administrators have been in creating a safe learning environment for these students. The responses submitted within the survey to the statement  “Students of my religion are respected on this campus,” show Muslim students felt their religion was the least respected when compared to all other religions on UC campuses, finding it hard to acquire prayer spaces, halal food and student development offices.

The UC system is part of a larger narrative of the failure of public institutions to protect AMEMSA communities and to further institute racist and discriminatory policies such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, where the FBI covertly monitors prominent Muslim Americans. We have also seen it in recent revelations of systematic NSA spying on Muslim Americans, as well as in Peter King’s McCarthy-esque congressional hearings on whether Muslims are a “threat” to American society and if so what to do about them.

This week’s confirmation hearing for student regent-designate nominee Avi Oved brings these issues to the forefront. In 2013, as a candidate for student government office, Oved participated in a system of soliciting outside funding for student elections. One of the central figures in this funding scheme was Adam Milstein, a real estate magnate who runs the Adam and Gila Milstein Foundation, which espouses right-wing pro-Israel views. When these facts were revealed, students uncovered dozens of insulting, noxious and vitriolic public statements by Milstein, expressing his hateful attitudes toward the AMEMSA community. These issues were shocking enough to cause the UC Student Association to vote to pause Oved’s nomination, but as of this writing, the regents have not seen fit to acknowledge or address it. In an interview with the Daily Bruin, after a UCSA public hearing in which dozens of students voiced concern about the Islamophobic nature of Milstein’s political views, Oved said, “I (did) not do anything wrong. I am proud that there are those who want to support our causes. I don’t regret getting that support.”

The fact that the student regent-designate nominee worked so closely with an outspoken bigot is disturbing. It sends a clear message that bigotry against our communities is perfectly acceptable in our university system.Take just one of many examples of Milstein’s vitriol — he praised the election of Narendra Modi in India as a victory for an “anti-Muslim” politician. This type of hate speech affects the students of the AMEMSA communities and having a student regent associated with a hateful individual such as Milstein is supporting the claim that not all students matter in the UC system.

What happens at the university will eventually be what happens on a broader state and national political level. If bigotry against the AMEMSA community continues to be acceptable at the University of California, then there is no reason to expect that in the future, discriminatory policies, surveillance, congressional witch-hunts and other attacks against the AMEMSA community will continue to operate unchecked. Sensing this, and outraged over the regents’ undemocratic actions toward the UCSA and student body, students across the state are mobilizing to push back against this nomination.

Earlier this month, the UCSA voted to postpone this nomination in light of student concerns. While the regents have chosen to ignore that vote, the public outrage regarding this issue is only growing. Students have issued a call for the regents to be held accountable for the decisions they make for the University of California. Within hours of its circulation, more than 200 students signed onto a petition calling for Oved’s resignation. Student organizations and coalitions representing communities of color see the danger in having a student regent who puts campaign finances over the students he represents and call on the Board of Regents to take action. It is time for the regents of the University of California to start doing their job and serve the students of this public institution. As students of the university in support of an equal education for all students of color and backgrounds, we are obliged to say, Avi Oved is not our student regent.


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  • Sherman Boyson

    You forgot to like your comment like you always do, Danny.

    • Dan Spitzer

      That’s because I was too blinded by the thought of your pate, Shermmy. Thanks for the reminder. You know, I fervently agree with what I have to say and I correspondingly hope that you realize how much you err in your comments about Israel to have qualms about affirming them after they are spewed…

  • Larissa_iz

    If you want the Board of Regents to take UCSA seriously, and if you want the student regent to continue to be a position that exists, I would suggest at the very least pretending to be professional and respectful.

    Something tells me the Board of Regents isn’t exactly impressed right now with a horde of students offering a candidate to the board, and then after accepting that candidate, screaming at the board for picking him. If you want representation, you need to respect the body who is giving you that representation, otherwise they will take it away from you and then lord knows we’ll all have a lot more screaming to do.

    Rather than accusing the Regents of “ignoring” your problems, or “turning a blind eye” to your issues, how about you START by admitting that you failed to select a good candidate, that the selection process run by UCSA was a failure this year because it selected a candidate who is not worthy of representing you.

    • Dan Spitzer

      Larissa, your post makes little sense. Oved in no way has demonstrated he is not a good candidate. Just because you and your fellow pro-Palestinian minion don’t like his support of Israel does not mean that Mr. Oved will not do a fine job as student regent–which is precisely why a majority elected him. And you and the people who wrote this editorial as simply spinning your wheels as you know that the Board of Regents will unanimously confirm him…

      • Larissa_iz

        I didn’t say that Oved has demonstrated he is a bad candidate. I said that if UCSA wants to complain that the Regents are picking a bad candidate, they should at least acknowledge the fact that UCSA picked that “bad” candidate.

        I didn’t make any claim about Oved, positive or negative. In fact, I’m sure Oved will be a great student regent. If he managed to perform exceptionally well in the long application and interview process with UCSA, I’m sure he’s fit for the position. If he made it to the final round of the selection process, he can’t be THAT bad… In fact the argument about Oved isn’t about how “good” of a Student Regent he’ll be, it’s about how “good” at representing the UC community he’ll be.

        I didn’t write this editorial, and I’m not spinning my wheels because I’m absolutely fine with the Board of Regents unanimously confirming him. All I’m saying is that if UCSA wants to complain about the Board of Regents selecting him, they first need to admit failure on their part for selecting him initially.

        How about instead of randomly picking people in comments sections to single out and insult, you actually read people’s thoughts and try to make legitimate arguments before accidentally blasting people who are actually on your side.

  • Emily Montan

    Where’s the petition? I’m Jewish and I’d sign it! What the people in power in Israel are doing is abominable. I’m anti terrorist and both sides of that struggle are guilty of bad acts. The difference is the power imbalance. Who gets the water, money and weapons? Who gets the land as well?

    • Dan Spitzer

      It will never cease to amaze me to read people who say they are “Jewish” (and you may well be) denigrating a democratic country under siege by those who openly state that they wish to kill all the Jews within it. Then I remember that there were Africans who sold their brethren into slavery and kapos who assisted the SS. Aberrations to be sure, but tragically a part of the human tapestry…

      • PK

        “A democratic country”. Dan Spitzer have you forgotten the falsifying foundational statement used in the creation of the apartheid state? “A land without people for a people without a land”. When I visited Israel in 1968, and for a good while after, Palestinians had only one identity for Zionists: Arabs. Even today Zionist apologists say, while begrudgingly acknowledging the Palestinians’ existence, that “yes, Palestinians have a country and it’s called Jordan.”

  • Dan Spitzer

    Here’s the bottom line on the op-ed above, its three authors, and student regent Sadia Saifuddin. They all support the Palestinians whose democratically elected government Hamas (now part of the Palestinian “government of reconciliation”) openly calls for Jewish genocide. By the logic of the op-ed, Ms. Saifuddin thereby doesn’t exactly represent most of the Jewish students, does she? Jewish students would be within their rights to also therefore say, “Sadia Saifuddin is NOT our student regent.”

  • Dan, it is ad hominem attack to use language with racial overtones like minion to label those with whom you disagree. You should apologize and keep the discussion to the facts.

    • Dan Spitzer

      What a bunch of horse crap, Eaton. Are you really a college student? Get yourself a bloody dictionary if you are so linguistically challenged. Minion has nary a racial overtone to it.

      How absurdly oversensitive you and the other members of the pro-Palestinian minion are. Your lack of conversance with an everyday word is rather typical of your group who would call virtually anything “racist.” Indeed, that’s a major problem with the commentary by the three sanctimonious authors above…

    • Sherman Boyson

      You obviously haven’t dealt with troll Dan before, Charlie. We try not to feed the troll — it only makes him come back. Still waiting for that photo, Danny boy.

  • Avi’s pro-Israel stance has been known for years. Look at any of his social media. Why did UCSA nominate him in the first place if this is an issue. All this controversy is a farce, what does UC have to do with Israel in the first place?

    • Kisa

      You missed the point. If he’s accepted money from someone that celebrates and supports the election of an individual known to be anti Muslim, how is is that morale? its one thing to be pro Israel (which has its own issues) but it’s it’s entirely another to be anti – Muslim or anti any group for that matter.

      • Dan Spitzer

        Hey, I worked for Obama’s re-election. Yet I nonetheless don’t agree with some of his policies. And, I also donated money for Obama’s campaign. This is to say, you can disagree with some aspects of a donor’s perspectives, as I have no doubt Obama would take issue with some of mine, and yet still accept their economic support.

        Stop tarring Oved with your nonsensical cries of discrimination. He has expressed nothing to earn your castigation and facile condemnation.

        And btw, Kisa, since Palestinian culture is so suppressive of woman-hey, it’s the truth but you’d probably slur me as a “racist” for being honest about this-how can you be part of the pro-Palestinian minion? And do you give a fig about how gays are treated by the Palestinians and so many other Muslim societes? If you do, how could you support them? Ditto given how the Palestinians treat dissidents, including their own? This is to say, both the PLA and Hamas’ overt squelching of journalists. Don’t you have any measure of caring for freedom of expression as practiced by the Palestinians? On the other hand, women, gays and dissidents are given full democratic rights by Israel and the Israelis deserve to be praised for so doing…

        • Kisa

          Your attack of a religion is another issue entirely, but let’s focus on the fact that you fiercely are defending a nation which commits some of the most blatantly oppressive human rights abuses. I am ethnically Pakistani and I know for a fact that Pakistan has it’s load of issues and I would never defend any of it’s faults – I talk about them and post about them excessively, especially the corruption at the government level. I know the US has it’s plethora of issues and I don’t ignore those. Yet an excessive amount of Israelis seem to have these insanely strong nationalist undertones when defending Israel. You praise it instead of talking about the issues at hand. I never see others do that – they’re the harshest critics of their own countries.

          • Dan Spitzer

            Well, Kisa, it’s pretty hard to defend the Palestinians when they reject a truce, as Hamas did today, and then go on to tell their people that in essence they should demonstrate their patriotism by serving as human shields and by becoming good martyrs by dying in the name of Islam. Israel, on the other hand, doesn’t tell its citizenry to become martyrs or human shields. It’s a life affirming culture, not a culture where death is exalted if it is oriented toward attempts to kill the “infidel” Jews.

            Indeed, as a Pakistani you must have praise for the courageous young girl Malala who was shot in the head for the “crime” of trying to attend a Pakistani school. You know that unlike Israel, where gender equality is among the most pronounced on the planet, Pakistan and the Palestinian territories have eons to go to even approach any sense of fair treatment of females…

      • Mel Content

        You missed the point. If he’s accepted money from someone that
        celebrates and supports the election of an individual known to be anti

        Plenty of Muslim and pro-Pallie students apparently have no problem in supporting anti-Semitic candidates, so it this really an issue about being opposed to bigotry, or more of whose ox is being gored?

      • He legally received a campaign donation that in no way changed his already existing stance on the issue. Avi has done nothing anti-Muslim. Being pro-Israel is just as “problematic” as being pro-Palestine.

  • Dan Spitzer

    Those who have observed the tactics of the pro-Palestinian minion over the past several years have observed that they will throw untruths or partial truths at any subject they can generate to tar Israel and its supporters. Why? By airing these falsehoods enough, they believe that the reading public will see allegations against the Jewish State with such frequency that certainly, whether they read the nonsense or not, they will believe that Israel and its supporters are guilty of an array of the lies promulgated by the likes of SJP, JVP, the Muslim Student Association, etc.

    The above garbage is exemplary of this. First of all, Oved-as the UCLA newspaper and the Daily Cal acknowledged-broke no election bylaws in accepting donations. Second, the alleged “slur” by Milstein-and the authors have not even shown us a scintilla of its context-were not articulated by Mr. Oved. Sadia Saifuddin, who spearheaded the BDS drive vs Israel and who is, or at least was, a member of SJP neither should not be held culpable for some of the overtly anti-Semitic comments by members of those organizations which either supported her or in which she holds membership. Indeed, no matter how distateful her own opinions are, she is the student regent and was accepted to the Board of Regents as the student government nominee. Oved was also later elected to become student regent and we have absolutely no proof that he has either now nor in the past denigrated any race or creed.

    The authors of the above commentary know full-well that the Regents will vote-most likely unanimously-to confirm Mr. Oved as student regent. The trio of authors realize this inevitability and even though their absurd complaints are akin to pissing in the wind, they nonetheless have done just that and will thus reap the well merited resultant fallout…

    • Kisa

      Your analogy is so flawed. Your example fails because if anyone said statements against a specific group, Sadia would not have accepted their money. This individual clearly DID take money from someone who has made clear statements against a particular group.

      • Dan Spitzer

        First of all, Kisa, it is not against the current electoral by-laws to take financial donations. Second, in our own national and state politics, it is not illegal to take donations from individuals with whom we may or may not differ. Third, do we have a context for Milstein’s alleged statement? It is not written in the commentary above. Finally, do we know that Sadia did not accept money from CAIR which was put on trial by the US for donating money to the manifestly anti-Semitic terrorist group (designated such by the US, the EU, and Japan) Hamas? I’ve heard SJP and JVP members state that they support Hamas, which openly calls for Jewish genocide. Yet Sadia was, at least at one time, a member of SJP. You can’t get anymore hateful than that.

        In sum, there never was an investigation into Saifuddin’s source of donations and you know this to be the case. Yet your fellow pro-Palestinian pals single out Oved just as their pro-Palestinian partners such as Sadia single out Israel for sanctions while ignoring the on-going butchery in Islamic nations between Sunnis and Shiites which is presently taking thousands of lives. Also ignored is the overt Muslim discrimination in the Palestinian territories and elsewhere toward women, homosexuals and dissidents. And, of course, in Pakistan-the land of Saifuddin’s heritage-the constant attempt to murder girls who wish to attend school…

        • Mel Content

          Come on, Dan, you should know by now. Hatred and bigotry isn’t a problem if it’s committed by the side with the stronger PC credentials…

      • Sherman Boyson

        Don’t feed the troll, Kisa. Just laugh at how insecure he is that he has to “like” his own posts. It’s so adorable and so 4th grade.

      • Dan Spitzer

        It would be unfortunate, Kisa, if you made book on Sadia not having accepted money from a group which exhibited hatred toward Jews. I mean, we certainly don’t know whether or not that is true as there has not been an investigation into such matters. However, we do know that some members of SJP, CAIR and the Muslim Student Association have defended the Covenant of Hamas which openly and clearly calls for genocide against all Jews…