The JFOC’s credibility problem surfaced with a response to a California Public Records Act request by local activists. That information uncovered a “smoking gun” letter sent by JFOC President Elcott to UCI Chancellor Drake in October 2009. It revealed a meeting between OTI students and Duwaik. The JFOC leaders seized upon this letter as evidence that they had brought this to the attention of UCI administrators seeking an investigation. But they never informed the community. It appears that JFOC donated nearly $60,000 to the OTI over the period from 2009 to the present.
There were allegations of fraud and character assassination perpetrated by the student president of UCI Hillel in a petition supporting OTI, purportedly containing 87 student signatures. It has been reported that there were fewer than six. The petition also attacked a local community activist, Dee Sterling of the Ha’Emet (The Truth) website, for “disrupting Jewish life on campus.” Sterling had organized two pro-Israel rallies by community members, including non-Jewish Zionists, opposing the MSU Apartheid Awareness Weeks in both 2010 and 2011.
Joe Wolf, a PhD candidate at UCI, described the Hillel student petition signature fraud at PJ Media. “Sterling’s reputation,” he said, “was slandered in a letter that mischaracterized her intentions.” These disclosures began unraveling a conspiracy to cover up the truth about the OTI. The 2011 OTI program is set to roll out this summer in the midst of roiling Palestinian protests, raising concerns about possible dangers to OTI students from kidnapping or worse.
The JFOC and Rose Project leaders might find themselves confronting an incensed Jewish community for creating the OTI credibility problem. As comments in the Jerusalem Post article titled “A Very Balanced Itinerary?” reveal, JFOC leaders persist in white-washing a malformed and dangerous program indeed.