UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA ANNOUNCES COMMITTEE WILL ADDRESS ALARMING RISE OF ANTI-SEMITISM ON CAMPUS
Victory for Students, Alumni, Faculty and Activists Who Have Relentlessly Raised Concerns for Student Safety
Contact: Nicole Rosen
Irvine, CA, Sept. 17, 2015 – After hearing from dozens of students, faculty, alumni and Jewish groups today and more than 3,000 University of California (UC) stakeholders over the past six months, the UC Board of Regents today withdrew a broad and vague Principles Against Intolerance statement and announced the formation of a committee that will address the rash of anti-Semitism that has plagued the university. Under the California Constitution, the University of California is governed by the Regents.
“What is happening at UC to Jewish students is ugly and frightening and it’s only getting worse,” testified Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a UC faculty member and the director of AMCHA Initiative, today before the Regents. “In the wake of virulently anti-Israel activity, especially BDS campaigns, Jewish UC students have reported being harassed, assaulted, threatened, vilified and discriminated against, their property defaced and destroyed, and their events disrupted and shut down. This must be addressed immediately.”
“For years, Jewish students have been subjected to anti-Semitism. For years, we have been forced to wear the badges of our politicized identities. For years, UC administrators have allowed anti-Semitism to go unchecked. For years, we have suffered in silence. But we endure in silence no more,” read dozens of UC Jewish students jointly. “Enough is enough. It is time for our university to recognize, address and take a stance against anti-Semitism and all forms of identity-based hatred. It is time to give students the opportunity to speak about and define their experiences. Only then can we begin to heal the toxic campus climate which has developed here due to years of inaction.”
UC has experienced many incidents of anti-Jewish discrimination this past academic year, including swastikas spray-painted on a Jewish fraternity after fraternity brothers spoke against divesting from Israel, “grout out the Jews” and “Hitler did nothing wrong” carved into school property after contentious BDS campaigns, a Hillel event for the LGBT community protested and disrupted by anti-Israel students and faculty, flyers blaming Israel AND all Jews for 9/11 plastered on campus and a Jewish student running for office questioned about her eligibility by anti-Israel activists simply because of her religion. 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. Many report being bullied, harassed, intimidated and assaulted.
Originally expected to address the dramatic rise in anti-Semitism at UC, the UC Office of the President instead released a proposed Principles Against Intolerance statement last week that didn’t even mention anti-Semitism and was a shocking disappointment. At today’s meeting, more that six Regents condemned the statement for not addressing the serious problem of anti-Semitism on UC campuses. One Regent called the statement’s lack of sensitivity to Jewish concerns “insulting.”
“We commend the Regents for rejecting the watered-down and overly broad proposal that neglected to even mention anti-Semitism and would have done nothing to mitigate the serious bigotry that Jewish students are currently facing at the University of California,” praised Rossman-Benjamin after the meeting. “And we applaud the Regents for recognizing how serious the situation is for Jewish students and taking action to address it.”
The new committee will be comprised of Regents, faculty and students and will be chaired by Regent Eddie Island.
In the past six months, more than 50 Jewish organizations, including ADL, AJC, Hillel, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and AMCHA; thousands of UC students, faculty, alumni and California residents; hundreds of California rabbis, Jewish day school principals and educators; and the world’s preeminent scholars of anti-Semitism have written to UC in support of adopting an accurate definition of modern anti-Semitism to properly identify and educate the campus community about contemporary Jew-hatred. Specifically, the groups have urged the adoption of the State Department definition of anti-Semitism.
The U.S. State Department definition recognizes that contemporary anti-Semitism has assumed various disguised forms and, as the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights found, is often “camouflaged as anti-Israelism or anti-Zionism.” The State Department definition acknowledges activity that demonizes and delegitimizes Israel and denies its right to exist as anti-Semitism. The definition has been used by the U.S. government for more than 10 years.
AMCHA Initiative is a non-profit, grassroots-based, organization, dedicated to monitoring, investigating and combating anti-Semitism at institutions of higher education in America.