Editor’s note: Below is a letter written by Phil Orenstein to UC Irvine administrators regarding UCI’s rejection of the Wallenberg Statue. It seeks to push back against and to expose the hostile anti-Semitic climate on the UCI campus. See Jamie Glazov’s Frontpage interview with Peter Lancz on “The Raoul Wallenberg World Campaign against Racism,” here.)
Dear Dean Lewis, President Yudof, and Chancellor Drake,
As a former college lecturer and current member of the National Conference on Jewish Affairs, I find it appalling and perplexing that University of California, Irvine would summarily reject, without explanation, the proposal for the erection of a commemorative Wallenberg statue on the University of California, Irvine campus (1). This would have served as an exemplary educational tool to teach the majority of the student body vastly unfamiliar with the heroic deeds of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who risked his life to save 100,000 Hungarian Jews from Nazi death camps (2).
Peter Lancz, son of Hungarian master sculptor, Paul Lancz who was saved by Wallenberg himself, had originally proposed to University of California president Mark Yudof that the statue be erected on the UC Irvine campus, which has in recent years become notorious for rampant anti-Semitic hate speech and obstruction of pro-Israel speakers. This stellar opportunity, funded through outside donors, has now been discarded, further tarnishing the reputation of UC Irvine.
During this centennial celebration year of Wallenberg’s birth, Peter Lancz is spearheading a nationwide effort to raise awareness and keep the memory of this true hero and savior alive, fulfilling his father’s dream of fighting bigotry and anti-Semitism on campus, which in his own words is “the cancer of the human soul.” The proposal was forwarded to UC Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake, and finally sent on to the Claire Trevor School of the Arts to be considered by the Public Art Program Council.
How ironic that a few days after the rejection letter, the Claire Trevor School of the Arts hosted a conference of rabid anti-Israel artists and filmmakers entitled “…and Europe will be stunned: The Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland,” envisioning the return of over three million Jews to Poland (3). This is not an actual political movement, but an artistic project to demonize Israel by deconstructing Zionism as the malicious product of European propaganda, “at the price of bringing a disaster upon the people already inhabiting that land” in the words of one of the speakers. Now anti-Semitic hate speech is considered rational discourse and even merits an arts conference espousing, under the umbrella of institutionalized “academic freedom” the proposition that Israel has no right to exist.
But the Wallenberg rejection further exposes “the cancer of the human soul” long entrenched at UC Irvine. The arts conference was bland compared to the epidemic of virulent hate speech and anti-Semitic attacks on the UC Irvine campus, that Judea Pearl, father of Daniel Pearl, journalist murdered by Islamic terrorists, called the “proving grounds for a nationally orchestrated Israel-defamation campaign.” Throughout the school year and especially during “Israel Apartheid Week” extremist speakers call for terrorist attacks on Israel and jihad against the United States. Imam Amir-Abdel Malik-Ali, a notorious supporter of Hamas, Hezbollah and al-Qaeda, has spoken at UCI numerous times, calling for the destruction of the “apartheid state of Israel,” comparing Jews to Nazis, and going on long anti-Semitic tirades about the “disproportionate numbers of Jews, Zionist Jews, in the media, in finance and foreign policy.” He preached suicide bombing of Israel to a campus audience saying: “That ain’t suicide, that’s martyrdom.” This is pure incitement to violence against Jews and it has precipitated hostile attacks, rock throwing and desecration of a Holocaust memorial on campus (4).