23 GROUPS DEMAND UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA ADOPT U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT DEFINITION OF ANTISEMITISM

Swastikas Spray Painted at UC Davis, Rachel Beyda Interrogated at UCLA Are Inevitable Consequence of Anti-Israel BDS Crusade

 

 

Contact: Nicole Rosen
202-309-5724
[email protected]

 

Santa Cruz, CA, March 19, 2015– Following a rash of antisemitic incidents at the University of California (UC), 23 education and Jewish advocacy groups today urged the UC President and Regents to adopt the U.S. State Department definition of antisemitism, which states that antisemitism may manifest itself with regard to the state of Israel.  The Board of Regents is the governing body of the University of California.

“What these recent antisemitic incidents have in common is that they are an inevitable consequences of pervasive anti-Israel activity, particularly Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaigns, being promoted on UC campuses,” wrote the groups.  “We believe that the UCLA and UC Berkeley student senates’ unanimous acknowledgement and condemnation of antisemitism on UC campuses should be taken extremely seriously by your office, and we ask you to take the following steps to address the problem:

  1. Formally adopt the U.S. State Department’s definition of antisemitism in order to identify all forms of antisemitic expression on UC campuses.
  2. Charge UC chancellors with training campus administrators and staff involved in discrimination prevention, student affairs, and equity, diversity and inclusion, to identify antisemitic behavior, and direct them to develop clear protocols for addressing campus antisemitism with the same promptness and vigor as they do other forms of racial, ethnic, and gender bigotry and discrimination.
  3. Charge UC chancellors with developing initiatives for educating the campus community about antisemitism and anti-Jewish discrimination.”

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, AMCHA Initiative co-founder and director, will speak and deliver the following letter on behalf of the groups at today’s UC Regents meeting:

Dear President Napolitano and the Board of Regents,

We are 23 organizations representing hundreds of thousands of supporters who are deeply concerned about the safety and well-being of Jewish students at the University of California.

First, we acknowledge and appreciate your statement strongly condemning the recent antisemitic incidents at the University of California that have included swastikas drawn on a Jewish fraternity house at UC Davis and the inappropriate questioning of a candidate for student judiciary board about her Jewishness and Jewish affiliations at UCLA.  We are also extremely pleased that in response to the escalating antisemitic activity on UC campuses, the student senates at UCLA and UC Berkeley have each unanimously approved resolutions condemning campus antisemitism.  

What these recent antisemitic incidents have in common is that they are an inevitable consequence of pervasive anti-Israel activity, particularly Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaigns, being promoted on UC campuses.  For example, the swastikas drawn on the Jewish fraternity house at UC Davis appeared less than two days after a contentious vote in the student senate on an anti –Israel divestment resolution sponsored by the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).  Just after the vote, an SJP-affiliated student council member who had sponsored the divestment bill wrote on her Facebook page: “Israel will fall insha’Allah  #UCDDivest”.  And the four student senators who challenged the candidate for the judicial board based on her Jewishness and Jewish affiliations were authors, sponsors and supporters of the most recent anti-Israel divestment bill at UCLA.

There is a well-documented relationship between BDS and acts of anti-Semitism, particularly on college campuses. At schools where BDS campaigns are promoted, Jewish students have routinely reported being harassed, physically and verbally assaulted, threatened, vilified, and discriminated against. Jewish students’ property and the property of Jewish student organizations have been defaced, damaged, or destroyed, while Jewish student events have been disrupted and shut down.

Student leaders have themselves recognized the clear connection between virulent anti-Israel expression and these recent antisemitic incidents, and it is for this reason that the UCLA student senate included in their unanimously-approved resolution language from the U.S. State Department’s definition of antisemitism which acknowledges that antisemitism may manifest itself with regard to the state of Israel by, for example:

    • Demonizing Israel:
      • Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism to characterize Israel or Israelis
      • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis
      • Blaming Israel for all inter-religious or political tensions
    • Double standards towards Israel:
      • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation
      • Multilateral organizations focusing on Israel only for peace or human rights investigations
    • Delegitimizing Israel:
      • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist”

We believe that the UCLA and UC Berkeley student senates’ unanimous acknowledgement and condemnation of antisemitism on UC campuses should be taken extremely seriously by your office, and we ask you to take the following steps to address the problem:

  1. Formally adopt the U.S. State Department’s definition of antisemitism in order to identify all forms of antisemitic expression on UC campuses.
  2. Charge UC chancellors with training campus administrators and staff involved in discrimination prevention, student affairs, and equity, diversity and inclusion, to identify antisemitic behavior, and direct them to develop clear protocols for addressing campus antisemitism with the same promptness and vigor as they do other forms of racial, ethnic, and gender bigotry and discrimination.
  • Charge UC chancellors with developing initiatives for educating the campus community about antisemitism and anti-Jewish discrimination. 

We look forward to hearing that you will take these steps to ensure the safety and well-being of Jewish students at the University of California.

Thank you again for your leadership on this matter of such vital importance to members and supporters of the Jewish community.

Sincerely,

 

Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity (AEPi), AMCHA Initiative, American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, Americans for Peace and Tolerance, BEAR: Bias Education, Advocacy & Resources, Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), CUFI on Campus, Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), Hasbara Fellowships, Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel, Iranian American Jewish Federation, Israeli-American Council (IAC),  National Conference on Jewish Affairs, Middle East Political and Information Network (MEPIN), Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, StandWithUs, Students and Parents Against Campus Anti-Semitism, The Israel Group, The Lawfare Project, Training and Education About the Middle East (T.E.A.M.), Zionist Organization of America

 

AMCHA Initiative is a non-profit organization, based in California, dedicated to monitoring, investigating and combating antisemitism at institutions of higher education in America.  AMCHA Initiative’s efforts are bolstered by a network of more than 5,000 members and supporters of the Jewish community — including university alumni, parents and grandparents, rabbis, religious school principals and synagogue members — who have joined together to speak in one voice to ensure the safety and well-being of Jewish students on college and university campuses across the country.

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