Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Berkeley campus votes overwhelmingly to remove Zionist from Senate, following campus beating of Palestinian students:

"ASUC Senator John Moghtader Recalled"

March 5, 2009

By Valerie Woolard,
Daily Cal Staff Writer

DAILY CALIFORNIAN (University of California; Berkeley, California)

On the Web at:

Preliminary results of the ASUC's recall election of Senator John Moghtader indicate that the senator will be removed from office.

The vote tally announced today was 2,689 students in favor of the recall and 1,021 against it.

A two-thirds vote in favor of the recall was required to remove the senator.

The recall effort began after a Nov. 13 altercation on an Eshleman Hall balcony involving Moghtader.

Moghtader said he only broke up the fight, while other students said he took part in it. The Alameda County District Attorney's Office decided not to press charges in the incident.

A recall petition was presented to the senate Dec. 3, 2008 with more than 1,000 signatures. The election took place on Feb. 23 and 24.



"Student Tells Her Side of Eshleman Fight"

February 6, 2009

By Dina Omar,
Contributing Writer

DAILY CALIFORNIAN (University of California; Berkeley, California)

On the Web at:

While holding a flag on the balcony in Eshleman Hall, I was violently confronted and attacked by three males. I would like to take the opportunity to tell you what happened Nov. 13th, and why I support the recall election against ASUC Senator John Moghtader.

On Nov. 13th, two other students and I walked by a concert hosted by Tikvah (Students for Israel) and the Zionist Freedom Alliance. As a response to the content of the event, myself and two other Palestinian students, Dalia Marina and Husam Zakharia, decided to hang two Palestinian flags on a balcony overlooking the event, as a way of expressing our silent dissent to an event that denied our existence and legitimized our erasure. The balcony is two stories above the event, and we were silently holding the flags there. We only wanted to make a statement-and had no interest in starting a confrontation. That is why we opted to stand on a balcony 70ft away from the event, rather than in the middle of it.

Less than five minutes later, three male organizers for the Zionist Freedom Alliance entered the balcony. These three individuals were later identified by the Daily Californian to be current ASUC Senator John Moghtader, Gabe Weiner, and non-student Yehuda De Sa. I had never seen these individuals before so I did not know who they were until I later identified one of them (John) to police from a photo line-up.

Immediately, two of the men attempted to push Dalia and I to get us away from the balcony railing, where we were holding the flags. They were attempting to remove the flags we were holding. Husam was further away and was not holding a flag, but when he saw them begin to shove us, he yelled, "You can't touch them, I'm recording you," as he pulled out his cell phone to pretend he was video taping them. Once Husam took out his phone, Weiner rammed him against the balcony rail. At that point, all three men were rushing to get to Husam and I was in the way. I got socked very hard in the back of my shoulder, and Moghtader pushed me.

After witnessing what happened to Dalia and I, and after being hit himself, Husam began to defend himself by swinging his arms. It was shortly after this point that people inside the building opened the balcony doors, and the three attackers ran away. While running, Mohtader shouted, "I am going to kick your Arab ass," and Weiner yelled, "You Arab dogs should watch out."

After conducting an investigation, the police recommended that John Moghtader and Gabe Weiner be charged with three counts of assault and battery with the enhancement of a hate crime. However, the District Attorney chose not to push forward with the case.

As a victim of these attacks, which left me with documented injuries, mainly bruises, I am outraged that Moghtader and Weiner have repeatedly lied about what happened to portray themselves as innocent bystanders or victims. I am even more disheartened that the justice system has failed to hold my attackers accountable, and that now I am forced to attend classes on a campus where they roam freely.

The campaign to recall Moghtader from the ASUC Senate is one meager way to achieve at least a small degree of justice. I did not lead the recall efforts, and I had very little to do with the process. However, given the failures of the justice system, I support them wholeheartedly. Someone who has used fighting words to intimidate students for their views, and violence in order to harass them, absolutely is NOT someone who deserves the privileges of being an ASUC Senator.

Unfortunately, the Daily Cal has misrepresented the situation and the campaign, and has said that the recall is politically motivated based on the fact that some people disagree with his views. As I said, I never knew of or spoke to John Moghtader before Nov.13th. I don't even know what his "views" are-all I know is that he attacked me when I tried to express mine. That is enough for me to support this recall, and I hope that it is enough for you, too.