AMCHA Initiative’s letter to UC President Yudof
September 19th, 2011
Over 5,200 members and supporters of the Jewish community signed a letter expressing their grave concern over University-sponsored antisemitism across the University of California. The signers included:
- more than 70 rabbis of all denominations
- more than 1,200 individuals who lead, work, or volunteer at local Jewish organizations
- more than 3,200 members of Jewish organizations
- more than 1,400 UC alumni and current students
- more than 2,200 UC parents and family members
- more than 230 UC faculty and staff members
“I was a student at UC Berkeley from 2006-2009 and encountered many threatening situations by the anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic community — I never felt so afraid to reveal my Jewish or Israeli background. The amount of hatred on this particular issue ruined my experience in classes and I really hope other students like me will not need to feel this way. No one should ever be ashamed or afraid to reveal their background.”
“This must be taken care of immediately. As a Jewish student on the UCSD campus, I experienced first-hand anti-Semitism and feel that this is a dire problem that is affecting the UC campuses.”
“I went to UC Riverside for undergrad and UCLA for grad school. While anti-Israel sentiments were worse at UCR, I felt uncomfortable on both UC campuses, I was afraid to wear my star-of-David necklace, and hesitated to speak Hebrew out of fear that I would become a victim to Muslim and Palestinian groups.”
“I am appalled when my children who graduated from Cal and UCLA each expressed their concern for their safety on these campuses. They felt intimidated and harassed by Palestinian students, in particular. Very little seems to be done to protect their rights and safety.”
“My daughter attended UC Berkeley and personally witnessed the virulent hostility against Jewish students by SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine). She joined the pro-Israeli student activist group Tikvah in an effort to dispel and counterbalance the SJP propaganda. She can testify to the accuracy of the allegations brought by her classmate against UC Berkeley that the administration “did not effectively deal with anti-Semitic harassment and intimidation by Muslim and anti-Israel student groups, leading to a ‘dangerous and threatening’ environment for Jewish students.”
“I am so relieved that my daughter has graduated from UCI and no longer has to walk through the gauntlet of annual hate fests. Had she and I known of the antisemitism at that campus, she would have chosen to attend any number of other universities, some with greater prestige, to which she was accepted.”
“My daughter had to leave UC Santa Cruz because of the anti-Jewish environment. She felt sick being on campus. She now attends school in Israel.”
“Even though our family has had multiple family members graduate from Cal, we will not be sending our children there due to the hostile environment.”
“I have been a regular donor to two campuses. During the past six months I have not donated and will not do so until this matter is resolved. I hold degrees from both campuses and have up until now have been proud to be a UC alum.”
“I am already a six-figure donor to UCLA. Until this is resolved, no UC will get a cent from my family!”
Dear President Yudof,
We are members and supporters of the California Jewish community – rabbis, cantors, principals, teachers, alumni, parents, grandparents, family and friends of Jewish students – who are deeply distressed by the harassment and intimidation of Jewish students on many University of California campuses.
On June 28, 2010, twelve Jewish organizations wrote to you to urge you, the Chancellors, and the Regents to address this serious problem. In your reply, you urged these Jewish leaders to be patient and have faith in the ability of the newly-established Advisory Councils on Campus Climate, Culture, and Inclusion to address the problem.
However it has been over a year, and the Advisory Councils have recommended no policies and issued no public statements informing the UC community about the problem of anti-Semitism or how it will be addressed.
At the same time, evidence has mounted that there is a persistent and pervasively hostile, discriminatory environment against Jewish students on several UC campuses. There is now a lawsuit pending against UC Berkeley, from a Jewish student who was physically assaulted by a Muslim student on that campus. Her lawsuit alleges that the administration over the years did not effectively deal with anti-Semitic harassment and intimidation by Muslim and anti-Israel student groups, leading to a “dangerous and threatening” environment for Jewish students.
Further, a faculty member at UC Santa Cruz has filed a federal complaint alleging that faculty and administrators on that campus have misused their official university positions to promote a virulently anti-Israel political agenda that has created a hostile environment for many Jewish students. The complaint is now being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
Moreover, the Olive Tree Initiative (OTI), an interfaith program touted by UC administrators as a remedy to anti-Semitic bigotry and harassment, has been revealed as deliberately exposing students, many of them Jewish, to a confirmed terrorist and leader of Hamas, an organization whose stated mission is the murder of Jews and the destruction of Israel. Yet even after it was revealed that students had not only met a Hamas leader but also been instructed to cover up the meeting, the OTI was given prestigious awards and generous funding by UC administrators.
More than a year after you urged Jewish leaders to have patience and trust, the problem of anti-Semitic bigotry has not been adequately addressed on UC campuses. Now we, as Jewish community members, urge you to address this problem effectively and promptly.
We ask the following:
1. Can we, the Jewish community, be given a timeline of when substantive measures to address the problem of the harassment and intimidation of Jewish students will be taken on UC campuses, including one or more of the following actions?
a) Define anti-Semitism and provide concrete examples in accordance with the EUMC and U.S. State Department “Working Definition”;
b) Provide clear guidelines for reporting and resolving complaints about the harassment and intimidation of Jewish students and for disciplining anti-Semitic behavior;
c) Incorporate these policies and practices on anti-Semitism into appropriate training for students, faculty, administrators, and staff, consistent with best practices for addressing other forms of discrimination, eg., racism and sexual harassment.
2. Can we, the Jewish community, be given assurance that the University of California will issue no awards, funding, or recognition of programs, such as the Olive Tree Initiative, which associate with organizations that call for the murder of Jews or the elimination of the Jewish state?
We look forward to your response.