AMCHA’S Responses to Antisemitic Activity at University of California Davis
6. A Jewish Fraternity House is De-Faced with Swastikas Days After BDS Vote
- INCIDENT: On January 31st, a Jewish fraternity house de-faced with swastikas days after BDS vote. On Feb 5, a janitor came forward with the information that the Hillel House was the target of graffiti in late January. Authorities said a janitor found the words, “grout out the Jews,” etched into the wall near a toilet stall.
- 3/19/15 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: In response to the upsurge in antisemitic incidents across the UC sysem, AMCHA Initiative coordinated a coalition letter to UC President Napolitano which included twenty two other groups, asking the UC system to:
- “Formally adopt the U.S. State Department’s definition of antisemitism in order to identify all forms of antisemitic expression on UC campuses.
- 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.”
5. Antisemitic Behavior by Students for Justice in Palestine and one of it’s Members Creates Hostile Environment for Jewish and pro-Israel Students
- INCIDENT: On January 29th, the UC Davis student government passed an anti-Israel divestment resolution written and promoted by the Students for Justice in Palestine. A video of the meeting at which the vote was taken shows that as Jewish and pro-Israel students left the meeting room, they were heckled with loud chanting of “Allahu Akbar.” Later that evening, Azka Fayyaz, who is not only an SJP member intimately connected with the anti-Israel divestment resolution but also a student senator, celebrated the passage of the resolution in postings on her Facebook page. Two of Fayyaz’s postings are particularly troubling, because they support and promote violence against Jews and the destruction of Israel. In one of the postings Fayyaz wrote: “Hamas and Sharia law have taken over UC Davis. Brb crying over the resilience.” As you surely know, Hamas is a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization; its charter calls for the murder of all Jews and the destruction of Israel. In the second posting Ms. Fayyaz is even more open about her call for Israel’s destruction, proclaiming, “Israel will fall insha’Allah #UCDDivest.” (These are not Ms. Fayyaz’s only openly hateful acts; on a separate occasion, she helped hold a sign depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with devil’s horns and an Adolph Hitler mustache and outrageously equating Gaza – which is controlled by the terrorist group Hamas, not Israel – with a concentration camp.)Both the SJP’s conduct and the conduct of Ms. Fayyaz are anti-Semitic, according to U.S. government standards.
- 2/10/15 – AMCHA’S AND COALITION RESPONSE: AMCHA Initiative coordinated a coalition letter including 23 groups, addressed to Chancellor Katehi urging “a full investigation into the conduct of the registered student group called Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and one of its members, Azka Fayyaz.” The letter further states, “We believe that the investigation will reveal that both the SJP and Ms. Fayyaz have violated university policies and fostered divisiveness, hatred and bigotry on campus in violation of the Principles of Community. They should be held accountable for their misconduct.”
- 2/20/15 – UNIVERSITY RESPONSE: UC Davis responds with a letter that fails to address the concerns of the 23 groups.
4. UAW 2865 Releases Statement of Intent to Support Antisemitic BDS Movement and Bring Propaganda to Classroom
- INCIDENT: The 83-member joint council of UAW 2865 – representing all of the TA’s, tutors and readers at the 9 teaching campuses of the University of California –issued a statement outlining the union’s intent to support the anti-Israel and antisemitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and to seek a full-membership vote on the statement this coming year. The nine teaching campuses include UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Los Angeles, UC Merced, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz, and UC San Diego. In the statement, the union exclaimed the need to “educate” others on the “settler-colonial” and “apartheid” nature of the Jewish state.
- 8/12/14 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: AMCHA Initiative coordinated a coalition letter to UC President Napolitano which included eleven other groups – Americans for Peace and Tolerance, Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, Hasbara Fellowships, Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel, Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Simon Wiesenthal Center, StandWithUs, The Lawfare Project and Zionist Organization of America. The letter asked President Napolitano to ensure antisemitic propaganda and BDS are not brought into UC classrooms by the Union of Student Workers.
- 9/8/14 – UC SYSTEM, PROVOST DORR: Provost Dorr responds to the coalition with a letter, confirming that the “University’s position as to the conduct of ASE’s in the classroom is rooted in its academic policies, including the UC Regents Policy on Course Conduct, referenced in your letter.” The letter further states, “We will ask the campuses to remind all the ASE’s about these policies and their obligation to adhere to them.”
- 9/8/14 – UC SYSTEM, PROVOST DORR: Provost Dorr sends a letter to all 9 Chancellors, which states, “Attached is a letter from Tammi Benjamin, AMCHA Initiative, raising concerns about academic student employees (ASE) supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in classrooms. In the last several weeks, we have received over a hundred emails similar to Ms. Benjamin’s. You may have received such inquiries as well. Since we have had queries from your campuses about this issue, I am writing to clarify that the University’s position as to the conduct of ASEs in the classroom is rooted in its academic policies, including the following…” The letter further listed the Policy on Course Content, Management and Academic Rights, Academic Freedom, and the Faculty Code of Conduct.
- 10/7/14 – AMCHA & COALITION THANK YOU LETTER RESPONSE: AMCHA and coalition respond to Provost Dorr’s positive actions with a letter expression gratitude, including stating, “We were very concerned that this would happen with UC teaching assistants, and are therefore grateful that you confirmed: “The University’s position as to the conduct of ASE’s in the classroom is rooted in its academic policies, including the UC Regents Policy on Course Content”. In addition, we greatly appreciate that you sent a letter notifying every UC Chancellor of the need to inform ASE’s that they are obligated to adhere to several university policies which prohibit them from using their instructional positions to promote political propaganda or advocacy, including the promotion of a boycott of Israel. These policies were established for a reason, and we appreciate your reminding the Chancellors to uphold them.”
- 12/8/14 – AMCHA & 21 ORGANIZATIONS PROACTIVELY WRITE UC PRESIDENT NAPOLITANO AND UC PROVOST DORR: Following the UAW 2865 Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) vote on December 4 2014, 22 education, civil rights and Jewish advocacy groups wrote to inquire of UC President Napolitano and UC Provost Dorr whether University of California (UC) policies that prohibit UAW 2865 graduate student instructors from promoting BDS and anti-Israel, and often anti-Semitic, propaganda in the classroom also apply to UC faculty.
- 12/11/14 – ASSEMBLYMEMBER BLOOM WRITES TO UC PRESIDENT NAPOLITANO: Out of concern for Jewish and pro-Israel students, Assemblymember Bloom sent a letter to UC President Napolitano and the UC Regents which stated in part: “I greatly appreciate that Provost Dorr took the time to explicity remind all chancellors that the Regents Policy on Course Content prohibits UAW graduate student instructors from promoting BDS and anti-Israel propaganda in the classroom. Earlier this week, in a letter authored by Tammi Benjamin of AMCHA, 22 education, civil rights and Jewish advocacy organizations wrote to you asking if the Regents Policy on Course Content also applies to UC faculty. I join in asking that question. The classroom must be a place where all views are welcomed and all students feel they can have a voice. The classroom should not be a soapbox for a professor’s political advocacy.”
- 12/18/14 – AMCHA & COALITION OF 21 ORGANIZATIONS WRITE 9 UC CHANCELLORS: Following the passage of the adoption of BDS by UAW 2865, AMCHA Initiative and 21 other education, civil rights and advocacy groups sent a letter to nine University of California (UC) Chancellors urging them to publicly state their commitment to upholding UC policies which prohibit academic student employees (ASEs) from using their instructional positions to promote a boycott of Israel. The letter concludes by stating, “We therefore call on each of you to issue a public statement affirming your commitment to strictly enforcing the Regents Policy on Course Content and to ensuring that Jewish and pro-Israel students have access to a safe and non-discriminatory learning environment.”
- 12/19/14 – UC SYSTEM, PROVOST DORR: In response to a letter sent from the AMCHA-led coalition of 22 groups on December 8, 2014 asking if the UC policies that prohibit UAW 2865 graduate student instructors from promoting BDS in the classroom also apply to UC faculty, Provost Dorr responded by stating, “I understand from your letter that you are concerned that UC faculty may promote the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in the classroom and that you are seeking clarification as to whether the Regents Policy on Course Content applies to UC faculty members. In response to your question, the Regents Policy on Course Content does apply to UC faculty members.”
- 12/22/14 – AMCHA & COALITION OF 21 ORGANIZATIONS THANK PROVOST DORR: The AMCHA-led coalition thanked University of California (UC) Provost Aimee Dorr and UC administrators for protecting the well-bring of Jewish students, stating “Thank you very much for your response to our letter …We are…extremely grateful for your acknowledgement that the Regents Policy on Course Content, which prohibits the misuse of the classroom for the advance of partisan interests and political indoctrination, applies equally to graduate student instructors and faculty. We also appreciate that you copied all of the UC Chancellors on your response, and we hope that in light of your very clear statement, administrators on each campus will strictly enforce the Regents Policy on Course Content in the case of both graduate student instructors and faculty, thereby ensuring that all students — including Jewish and pro-Israel students — have access to a quality learning environment that is safe and non-discriminatory.”
3. Three UC Campuses Sponsor Boycott Event, Violate State Law and University Policy – Including UC Davis
- INCIDENT: Three University of California campuses appear to have violated university policy and state law when they used taxpayer dollars to sponsor events featuring Omar Barghouti, the founder and most vocal advocate of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, on three UC campuses – UC Riverside, UCLA, and UC Davis. At UC Davis, four academic units — ME/SA, Asian American Studies, Native American Studies, and Asian American Cultural Politics Research Cluster – co-sponsored the Omar Brargouti event entitled “Revisiting the Pedagogy of the Oppressed” with Students for Justice in Palestine. Despite Barghouti being neither a university professor nor an academic, his status as founder of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel has garnered him support from many on UCD’s faculty who also support the academic boycott of Israel.
- 1/15/14 –AMCHA’S RESPONSE: AMCHA Initiative wrote UC Davis Chancellor Katehi, notifying her of the pro-boycott speaker, the endorsement of this event by UC Davis departments, the concentration of pro-boycott faculty in support of the event, the public proclamation of such support by said faculty, and raising concerns of partisan political agendas playing a crucial role. Recent public statements on academic boycott from UC leaders, as well as code violations were cited.
- 1/17/14 –UC DAVIS’ RESPONSE: Chancellor Katehi responded to AMCHA’s letter, saying that the departmental sponsorship of an event to boycott Israel was a legitimate exercise of academic freedom.
- 1/21/14 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: AMCHA Initiative responded to Chancellor Katehi’s letter defending the departmental sponsorship of an event promoting the boycott of Israel, explaining why the sponsorship was not a legitimate exercise of academic freedom, and in fact violated university policy and state law.
- 1/22/14 –AMCHA’S RESPONSE: AMCHA Initiative went before the UC Regents to speak about this issue.
- 2/1/2014 –AMCHA’S RESPONSE: After numerous requests to administrators were ignored, AMCHA orchestrated a petition to reach out to legislators for help.
- 4/23/14 –AMCHA’S RESPONSE: More than 1,000 California residents signed the petition asking legislators to help stop University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) faculty from using taxpayer dollars for antisemitism. AMCHA delivered the signed petition along with a letter to the legislators.
2. Discrimination and Harassment of Jewish Students during “Occupation” of a UC Davis Administrative Building
- INCIDENT: Jewish students were threatened and harassed within view of University administrators during an anti-Israel “occupation” of a University of California Davis administrative building on November 19, 2012.
- 1/28/13 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: The AMCHA Initiative sent a letter to UC Davis Chancellor Katehi providing her with a detailed description of the event, including the discrimination and harassment that occurred, a list of state and federal laws and university policies which were likely violated, and asking her to take five specific actions to protect Jewish students on her campus.
- 1/31/13 – UC DAVIS’ RESPONSE: UCD Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor, Ralph Hexter, wrote AMCHA Initiative a letter that UCD was taking the allegations seriously.
- 2/5/13 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: In response to the letter sent to AMCHA by Ralph Hexter, UCD Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor, the AMCHA Initiative sent a letter to UCD Chancellor Katehi asking her for more answers and urging further steps to be taken to protect Jewish students at UC Davis.
1. Heckler Disrupts Jewish Student Event
- INCIDENT: A program put on by Jewish students at UC Davis on February 27, 2012 was disrupted and almost shut down. The Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Davis illegally planned and executed coordinated action to interrupt and heckle the event’s speakers, and in so doing suppressed the freedom of speech and freedom of assembly of the Jewish students and their invited speakers.
- 3/6/12 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: In February, UC Davis and UC San Diego both saw vicious anti-Israel demonstrations, including organized hecklers attempting to shut down a Jewish-organized event. AMCHA called on President Yudof to condemn these incidents of harassment and denounce the economic and academic boycott of Israel.
- 3/8/12 – UC SYSTEM’S RESPONSE: Two days after AMCHA co-founders and supporters sent letters urging him to condemn a series of harassments against Jewish students at the UC, President Yudof did just that. In his open letter he addressed specific incidents and both condemned them and noted their terrible effects on the Jewish community across the UC.
- 3/16/12 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: President Yudof’s condemnation of the series of harassments of Jewish students across the UC incorrectly asserted that the UC Davis officials “dealt appropriately” with the organized attempted shutdown of a Jewish event. In response, AMCHA co-founders sent a letter thanking him for the appropriate condemnations and outlining suggested steps to improve campus officials’ response to future attempts to disrupt and harass Jewish students’ events.