Press release from the AMCHA Initiative, a non-profit organization dedicated to combating, monitoring and documenting anti-Semitism at institutions of higher education in America.
San Francisco, CA, March 23, 2016 – To address a rash of anti-Semitic incidents, largely incited by anti-Zionist activity on campus, the University of California today passed a resolution condemning “anti-Semitism, anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination” and stating they “have no place at the University of California.”
“What an important day for Jewish students in California, nationally and internationally,” said AMCHA Initiative director Tammi Rossman Benjamin, who began this fight a year ago and led the effort. “There is absolutely no doubt that anti-Zionism is the driving force behind the alarming rise in anti-Semitism at UC and at schools across the country. Far too often, anti-Israel activists single out, harass, intimidate and even assault Jewish students, regardless of how that student feels about Israel. Far too often, what starts as acceptable, welcomed and appropriate criticism and debate on Israel becomes anti-Zionist discrimination and hate. We applaud the Regents for their leadership and courage today. We offer a special thank you to Regents Working Group chair Eddie Island, members Norm Pattiz and Avi Oved and California legislators Marty Block and Travis Allen who championed this important policy. This is a significant step forward for the well-being of Jewish students at UC, and its impact will be felt nationwide.”
AMCHA began communicating with UC Regents and community members a year ago after hearing from concerned parents and students about the rapid rise of anti-Semitism at UC. In September the Regents appointed a task force to address the problem. The task force held numerous public meetings and hearings to hear from the community and experts. Last week they released the proposed Statement of Principles Against Intolerance that was approved unanimously today.
Dozens of UC students and faculty, representatives from Jewish organizations, including, the Anti-Defamation League, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Jewish Community Relations Council, and AMCHA Initiative, and State Assembly Member Travis Allen testified before the Regents today urging them to support the measure. In addition, over the last week, more than 4,000 UC students, faculty, parents, alumni and stakeholders; 60 Jewish and education advocacy groups, including Hillel International, Jewish Federations of North America, and the American Jewish Committee; as well as the California Legislature’s Jewish Caucus and U.S. Congressman Brad Sherman urged the Regents to condemn anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in the Statement.
Criticism of Israel, Israeli policies, settlements, the living conditions of Palestinians or criticism similar to that leveled against any other country is not anti-Zionism. Anti-Zionism is denying Israel’s right to exist and/or calling for its destruction.
Far too often, what starts as acceptable, welcomed and appropriate criticism and debate on Israel at UC becomes anti- Zionist discrimination and often includes classic, centuries-old anti-Semitic tropes:
· Jewish UC Santa Cruz student government rep warned to “abstain” from voting on Israel divestment resolution because of his “Jewish agenda.”
· At UC Santa Barbara, stereotypical and classic anti-Semitic statements about Jews, including Jews control the government and all Jews are rich, were made during a debate to divest from Israel.
· A UCLA student wrote, “Fucking Jews. GTFOH with all your Zionist bullshit. Crazy ass fucking troglodyte albino monsters of cultural destruction. Fucking Jews. GTFOH with your whiny bullshit. Give the Palestinians back their land, go back to Poland or whatever freezer-state you’re from, and realize that faith does not constitute race.”
· The online promotion of an anti-Israel UC Berkeley SJP event stated, “No to University Coordination and Strategizing with the ADL, JCRC, AJC, StandWithUS, ZOA...” The targeting of Jewish organizations, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Community Relations Council and the American Jewish Committee, demonstrates how anti-Israel student groups target and alienate all Jewish groups.
· At UC Berkeley, “Zionists should be sent to the gas chamber” was scrawled on a bathroom wall in the wake of a student senate campaign to pressure the university to divest from American companies that do business with Israel.
· At UCLA, “Hitler did nothing wrong” was carved into school property after a contentious BDS campaign.
· At UC Davis, “grout out the Jews” was scrawled on the university’s Hillel House following a heated BDS debate.
· At UC Santa Barbara, flyers blaming Israelis and all Jews for 9/11 were posted on campus.
A study, conducted by AMCHA Initiative, of anti-Semitism at more than 100 U.S. colleges and universities in 2015 ranked 5 UC campuses in the top 10% of schools with the most anti-Semitic activity. In fact, 4 of those UC campuses rose to the top 5 worst schools. The study also found the presence of anti-Zionist activities, anti-Zionist student groups and faculty who endorse an academic boycott of Israel were strong predictors of anti-Semitism.
For months UC Jewish students have reported feeling afraid to tell fellow students they are Jewish, walk to the Hillel house for Sabbath dinner and wear a Jewish star necklace. Many report being bullied, harassed, intimidated and assaulted.