The AMCHA Initiative Wishes You a Happy New Year

Recent Developments in Fighting Anti-Semitism on California Campuses

 

How You Can Get Involved

Dear Friends,

There have been significant developments in the past two months concerning the protection of Jewish students from anti-Semitism on California college campuses. Two of them are very positive: a resolution condemning anti-Semitism on California campuses was unanimously approved by the California State Assembly, and a report documenting a hostile environment for Jewish students at the University of California was issued by the UC  President’s Advisory Committee on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion.Unfortunately, both the State Assembly’s resolution and the UC report on Jewish student campus climate have been loudly protested by members of student, community, and faculty organizations who themselves have been implicated in promoting anti-Jewish bigotry on UC campuses.In addition, this summer the UCLA Academic Senate Committee for Academic Freedom issued a very troubling statement affirming a professor’s right to promote an anti-Semitic boycott of Israel on his class website.

You can read more below about these developments, the AMCHA Initiative’s continuing efforts to promote the safety and well-being of Jewish students on California campuses, and how you can get involved.

We wish you and your loved ones a Shana Tova U’metuka, a sweet year filled with many blessings.

Sincerely,

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin and Leila Beckwith
AMCHA Initiative Co-founders

*****************************************

 

California State Assembly Unanimously Condemns Campus Anti-Semitism

In a bold and courageous action, the California State Assembly has unanimously passed resolution HR 35. This resolution, while not binding, recognizes a serious problem of anti-Jewish bigotry on California campuses and urges more decisive action by university administrators.

TAKE ACTION: Thank your California Assembly Representative for his/her courageous action in approving an important resolution condemning campus anti-Semitism.

You can find your Assembly Member here, then fill in his/her last name to the following email address: assemblymember.[LAST NAME]@assembly.ca.gov.

 

**********

University of California Will Not Support Resolution Condemning Anti-Semitism

University of California President Mark Yudof has acknowledged an acceptance of most of California State Assembly resolution HR 35 concerning campus anti-Semitism and its findings, however, he has stated that the UC will not support the resolution due to reservations he has about two key recommendations. These reservations came to light in his letter to the author of HR 35, Assemblymember Linda Halderman, as well as in his response to a letter sent by the AMCHA Initiative asking him to clarify why he did not support the resolution.

President Yudof and UC are ready to accept the recommendations to swiftly and unequivocally condemn acts of anti-Semitism on campus and to use resources, such as the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights’ Working Definition of anti-Semitism to guide policy and educational programs.

However, President Yudof alleges that due to considerations of the 1st Amendment and academic freedom, UC will not accept the recommendations to ensure that anti-Semitic activity will not be tolerated in the classroom or on campus, and that no public resources will be allowed to be used for anti-Semitic activity.

In striking contrast, there have been incidents of racist bigotry in which university officials, including President Yudof, without any concern for the 1st amendment, acted in complete accord with the recommendations that they are now disputing. In AMCHA’s latest reply,  President Yudof is urged to accept Resolution HR 35, particularly to ensure that a double standard does not exist in which anti-Jewish bigotry is responded to differently than bigotry against other student groups.

TAKE ACTION: Write to President Mark Yudof (president@ucop.edu) urging him to fully support the unanimously-approved State Assembly resolution condemning anti-Semitism and to ensure that an anti-Jewish double standard does not exist at the University of California.  Consider copying your letter to other UC leaders and the State Assembly members who co-authored HR 35, whose email addresses are provided here for your convenience.  In addition, please copy or blind-copy the AMCHA Initiative (administrator@AMCHAinitiative.org).

**********

 

UC Committee on Campus Climate Report: Hostility on Campus for Jewish Students

The University of California President’s Advisory Committee on Campus Climate, Culture, and Inclusion released a report on July 9, 2012 entitled, “Jewish Student Campus Climate Fact-Finding Team Report & Recommendations.” The report was the culmination of investigatory visits to six UC campuses by two members of President Yudof’s Advisory Committee on Campus Climate, Richard Barton, the Anti-Defamation League National Education Chair, and Alice Huffman, California NAACP President.

Barton and Huffman found that manifestations of anti-Israel sentiment, including Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns, promote hostility and create significant and difficult campus climate issues for Jewish students, including harassment, intimidation, and undermining Jewish students’ sense of belonging.

The report made eight recommendations for reform, including: adopting a definition of anti-Semitism, such as the EUMC working definition, that recognizes that there are ways in which anti-Semitism is manifested in regard to Israel; adoption of a hate-speech free campus policy; access to kosher food, and inclusion of Jewish students in future Campus Climate meetings. Currently, the UC administration is reviewing the findings and recommendations.

Unfortunately, several known anti-Israel groups, including the UC Ad Hoc Committee on Jewish Campus Climate and Jewish Voice for Peace, have expressed their opposition to the report. Jewish Voice for Peace has also condemned State Assembly resolution HR 35, which condemns anti-Semitism on campus. These groups claim that the report seeks to silence legitimate anti-Israel discourse and misrepresents the characterization of support for Palestinian rights. They have urged President Yudof to table the report and its recommendations. AMCHA has sent letters to the Advisory Committee on Campus Climate to demonstrate support for the findings of the Committee’s report and to explain why the groups in opposition to the report are problematic. (See AMCHA’s letters here and here).

TAKE ACTION: Sign the StandWithUs petition, that affirms the report’s findings, urges its endorsement by UC, and calls on the Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion to work toward implementation of the report’s recommendations.

**********

 

 

UC Regents Neglect Their Responsibility to Keep Propaganda Out of the Classroom

In early July, the UCLA Committee on Academic Freedom made the appalling decision that Professor David Delgado Shorter’s promotion of an academic boycott of Israel on a course website meets academic standards. In response, AMCHA sent a letter to the UC Regents, signed by more than 1,000 AMCHA supporters. The letter asked the Regents to publicly acknowledge their legal responsibility under UC Regents’ policy and California State Law to ensure that UC classrooms are free from the promotion of political propaganda. In two separate letters to AMCHA co-founders (see here and here), UC Regents Chairwoman Sherry Lansing claimed that the UC Regents do not sanction anti-Semitism, but she nevertheless refused to take any action to enforce University policy and the law, stating: “we simply must support free speech and academic freedom on all UC campuses. Therefore, we are not able to agree to your requests.” AMCHA replied to both of Chairman Lansing’s letters, expressing deep distress at the Regents’ unwillingness to exercise their legal and moral obligations. See AMCHA’s replies here and here.

TAKE ACTION: Write to UC Regents Chairwoman Sherry Lansing and the Board of Regents (regentsoffice@ucop.edu) expressing your disappointment with their unwillingness to exercise their legal and moral responsibility to ensure that University of California classrooms are not used for political indoctrination, including the promotion of anti-Semitism.  Consider copying your letter to other UC and state leaders, whose email addresses are provided here for your convenience.  In addition, please copy or blind-copy the AMCHA Initiative (administrator@AMCHAinitiative.org).