We wonder if they have thought through the consequences, and if they have undertaken the requisite risk assessment of these feckless projects. Have they purchased kidnap, ransom, and torture insurance? Have they obtained waivers and indemnification from the participants, and have they received written opinions from credible counsel that the waivers and indemnification will stand up in court? They may want to take a look at their directors and officers liability policies while they’re at it. As a business attorney, I routinely advise clients to review their insurance coverages in light of their actual business operations. That is obviously an elementary and prudent step to take.
And, by the way, meeting with Hamas may have violated U.S. law. Not only that, but having the OTI faculty and advisors instruct the students to conceal the meeting, as disclosed in the October 2009 letter, may have violated U.S. and Israeli law, not to mention the university’s own policies of professorial conduct. Plus, it reeks of cover-up by all parties involved, including the Jewish Federation which failed to disclose this meeting with its own disgruntled community. The university, the Jewish Federation, and other supporters of OTI programs should be consulting with their compliance departments as well as with their risk managers.
If they haven’t assessed the risk and purchased enough coverage, which in and of itself is a very costly proposition, the taxpayers of California, as well as the generous donors to the Jewish Federation of Orange County, may be in for a great shock when they learn the extent of the multi-million dollar liabilities that these enterprises may someday face.
It is time to wise up, face reality, and act like adults. Abandon the Olive Tree Initiative before it is too late — before it spreads from UC Irvine to UCLA, UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego, and elsewhere. Or else, the University of California, and the organizations that fund ventures like the OTI, better use their hard-earned and scarce dollars to buy insurance and set aside the necessary reserves for when tragedy strikes.
And then explain to the taxpayers and benefactors why it is more worthwhile to spend their money on these programs rather than on advancing core programs. In the case of the university, for example, it might want to consider using state funds and student fees to offer more courses and class sections so that students can actually graduate in four years instead of the five or six that it now routinely takes. And the Jewish Federation might decide that it should focus on strengthening local synagogues and Hebrew schools, and helping community members facing economic hardship, rather than play-acting the diplomatic game with hardcore Palestinian propagandists.
It is time that the university and the Jewish Federation come to the proper conclusion. The OTI and similar programs are not worth the risk. Indeed, they jeopardize the very ability of the university and the Jewish Federation to carry out their other fine work. It is all a question of priorities. Setting priorities is what administrators are paid and expected to do wisely. Let’s hope that wisdom prevails.
 http://www.ha-emet.com/oti_students_meet_hamas.html contains the text of a letter written in October 2009 by the Jewish Federation of Orange County to UCI Chancellor Michael Drake,
 These include Vittorio Arrigoni, Rachel Corrie, and Angelo Frammartino. You could add Juliano Mer-Khanis, the Jewish-Arab Israeli citizen who founded a cultural theatre group in Jenin, to the list.
 For a revealing look at the brutal treatment often accorded to Western volunteers by the Palestinians, especially women, see http://frontpagemag.com/2011/04/18/how-supporters-of-palestinian-terrorism-are-murdered-and-raped-by-their-palestinian-sponsors/