Not only that, the meeting took place during a university-sponsored trip partially funded by the Jewish Federation of Orange County, the Jerusalem Post reports:
A 2009 letter obtained from the University of California- Irvine and addressed to the university’s chancellor from Jewish Federations of Orange County divulges that students on a university-sponsored trip to the Middle East met with a “notable Hamas figure,” Aziz Duwaik, in an “unapproved” meeting in September 2009.
The trip was run by the Olive Tree Initiative (OTI), a student-led initiative which “aims to promote dialogue and discussion regarding the Israeli-Arab conflict,” according to its website. The group’s funding is derived at least in part from Jewish federations.
What’s curious is why this is coming to light now, over a year after the meeting occurred. Numerous Jewish federations across the country have been hit with a spate of bad PR recently, and this is just the latest example. The letter obtained by the Jerusalem Post, however, shows that JFOC was unaware of the meeting until after it took place, and was rightfully appalled to learn about it afterward. The federation also demanded in the letter that the university launch a full investigation into the incident, though it’s unclear what the outcome of that was.
Some may criticize JFOC for not making this issue public back in 2009. But it otherwise sounds like the federation took the appropriate action. And the real blame clearly lies with UC-Irvine. According to the Post, “UC-Irvine graduate students and faculty were reportedly in charge of making arrangements for the trip.” This raises several questions: How was the meeting with Hamas coordinated? Did faculty or graduate students have contacts within the terrorist organization prior to the trip? What was the purpose of the meeting? And why were students told to keep the encounter a secret afterward?
UC-Irvine is already facing a federal probe for alleged anti-Semitic incidents on campus. The fact that its employees were involved in planning such a trip is just one more disturbing piece of a larger trend.