AMCHA TO UC REGENTS: JVP, SJP, & Palestine Legal Are Living in a Misleading, Self-Serving Fantasy World
Anti-Zionism is Not ‘Mere’ Political Speech and is Not Synonymous with Criticism of Israel; Anti-Zionism is Blatant Discrimination and it Fuels Anti-Semitism at UC
Contact: Nicole Rosen
Santa Cruz, CA, March 21, 2016 – AMCHA Initiative today released a fact sheet to the University of California (UC) Board of Regents demonstrating how complaints that anti-Zionism does not belong in the Regents proposed Statement of Principles Against Intolerance do not reflect the reality for Jewish students at UC. In addition, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Palestine Legal are misrepresenting the true meaning of anti-Zionism.
“Contrary to the self-serving tale JVP, SJP and Palestine Legal would like to tell, anti-Zionism is the driving force behind the alarming rise in anti-Semitism at UC. 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. Anti-Zionism is not mere political speech and it is not synonymous with criticism of Israel. Anti-Zionism is an extreme call for the destruction of the only Jewish state. It is thinly veiled anti-Semitism; it is blatant discrimination and it is what is inciting record-high anti-Jewish hate on campus. The Regents understand that a statement without anti-Zionism would be mere window dressing. An examination of actual anti-Semitic incidents at UC shines a spotlight on the reality on the ground for Jewish students,” said Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, AMCHA Initiative director and a UC faculty member.
Incidents of anti-Semitism incited by anti-Zionism at UC in the past two academic years:
2015 – 2016:
- A Jewish member of the UC Santa Cruz student government was warned to “abstain” from voting on an anti-Israel divestment resolution because of his presumed “Jewish agenda.”
- In responding to a pro-Israel post by actress Mayim Bialik, a UCLA student and employee posted vile anti-Semitic comments on social media including, “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.
- A male member of SJP at UC San Diego recognized a fellow female Jewish student and followed and harassed her. The female student reported, “They followed me…calling my name…yelling that I was a ‘racist Zionist cow.’ I have never felt so unsafe in my life…I didn’t know anyone would…put me in danger…This problem is way more serious than I had imagined.”
2014 – 2015:
- At UC Davis, swastikas were spray-painted on a Jewish fraternity days after fraternity brothers spoke against divesting from Israel.
- 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, stereotypical and demonizing statements of Jews were made during a divestment resolution vote. One student explained, “I am disgusted by the normalization of anti-Semitic language so casually thrown around at the [divestment] meeting. In those eight hours, I was told that Jews control the government, that all Jews are rich, that Zionism is racism, that the marginalization of Jewish students is justified because it prevents the marginalization of other minority groups.”
- At UC Santa Barbara, flyers blaming Israelis and all Jews for 9/11 were posted on campus.
- At UCLA, a Jewish student running for office was questioned about her eligibility by anti-Israel activists simply because of her religion.
- At UCLA, campus activists led a pledge drive to keep Jewish students known to support Israel from serving on the student government.
The Regents are scheduled to vote this week on the proposed Statement which condemns anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism and states they “and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California.”
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, the only Jewish state’s, right to exist and/or calling for its destruction.
“The situation has gotten so bad UC Jewish students report feeling afraid to tell fellow students they are Jewish, walk to the Hillel house for Sabbath dinner and wear a Jewish star necklace, particularly during what has become frequent anti-Israel divestment campaigns. That is the daily reality for Jewish students. Many report being bullied, harassed, intimidated and assaulted,” said Leila Beckwith, UCLA emeritus professor and cofounder of AMCHA. “This must stop. We must return our campus to a climate of respect for students of all races, religions, sexual preferences and backgrounds.”
A study 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 found a strong correlation between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. In fact, 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.
There is tremendous momentum and support for the inclusion of language condemning anti-Zionism in the UC Principles Against Intolerance Statement. More than 50 Jewish and education advocacy groups, including Hillel International, Jewish Federations of North America, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, approximately 750 UC faculty and alumni, the California Legislature’s Jewish Caucus and U.S. Congressman Brad Sherman have written letters supporting the Regents condemnation of anti-Zionism in the Statement.