Letter to UC President Mark Yudof Requesting Clarification of UC’s Position on State Assembly Resolution Condemning Anti-Semitism

From: Tammi Rossman-Benjamin <tammi@amchainitiative.org>
September 4, 2012 10:54:07 AM PDT
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request for clarification of UC position on anti-Semitism resolution

Dear President Yudof,

We are deeply troubled by reports that the University of California leadership has rejected the California State Assembly’s unanimously-approved resolution condemning anti-Semitism in California’s colleges and universities.

Although symbolic, this resolution is an important step in acknowledging the long-standing and pervasive problem of campus anti-Semitism in our state. Using a definition of anti-Semitism embraced by the U.S. State Department, the United Kingdom and the European Union, the State Assembly’s resolution accurately describes manifestations of anti-Jewish bigotry on California campuses, including at the University of California, such as: physical aggression, harassment and intimidation directed against Jewish students; speakers, films and exhibits that engage in anti-Semitic rhetoric or use anti-Semitic imagery; swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti in residence halls and public areas on campus; campaigns to boycott and otherwise harm Israel; student groups that encourage support for terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah and openly advocate terror against the Jewish state; and the suppression and disruption of speech in support of Israel.

The resolution urges that serious attention be directed towards combating anti-Jewish bigotry on California campuses, specifically calling on college and university leaders to take the following four actions:

  1. ensure that no administrator, faculty, or student group can be in any doubt that anti-Semitic activity will not be tolerated in the classroom or on campus;
  2. ensure that no public resources will be allowed to be used for anti-Semitic;
  3. increase efforts to swiftly and unequivocally condemn acts of anti-Semitism on campus;
  4. utilize existing resources, such as the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights’ working definition of anti-Semitism, to help guide campus discussion about, and promote, as appropriate, educational programs for combating anti-Semitism on campus.

It is important to point out that nowhere in the resolution does the State Assembly call for limiting free speech. Rather, it focuses on ensuring that Jewish students are not singled out for intimidation, harassment or discrimination and that public resources are not being used to promote anti-Semitism, both of which are prescribed by law.

Given that the University of California has called on California taxpayers to vote for legislation which would raise our taxes in order to support the University in this time of fiscal crisis, it is only fair that you clarify for the Jewish community the University’s position on this important resolution on campus anti-Semitism, which has been unanimously approved by our elected state legislators.

The Jewish community deserves to know: will you commit to carrying out the four actions cited in the State Assembly’s resolution?

Please note that Jewish community leaders from across the state have been copied on this email.

We look forward to your reply in the near future.


Tammi Rossman-Benjamin
Lecturer, University of California at Santa Cruz
Co-founder the AMCHA Initiative

Leila Beckwith
Professor Emeritus, University of California at Los Angeles
Co-founder the AMCHA Initiative

UC Regents
UC Chancellors
California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson
Speaker of the State Assembly John A. Perez
State Assembly Members who introduced and co-authored the resolution regarding campus anti-Semitism
California Jewish community leaders

Members of the Jewish Community