Presentation for Campus Climate Assembly Members on 3/21/14 – Unabridged Remarks

  • We are University of California faculty members who are also co-founders of the AMCHA Initiative, a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to investigating, documenting, educating about and combating antisemitism at institutions of higher education.  AMCHA Initiative is comprised of thousands of California alumni, parents, grandparents, rabbis, religious school principals and synagogue members who have joined together to speak in one voice to ensure the safety and well-being of our Jewish students on campuses.
  • Like you, Dr. Weber, as fellow professors, we care deeply about the safety of all students.
  • And, we are grateful for the creation of your select committee and to each of you as you embark on this important task.
  • Unfortunately, antisemitism at U.S. colleges, and, especially, in California, is growing at an alarming rate.
  • It is a concern we hear about daily from members of California’s Jewish community including, university alumni, rabbis, professors, religious school principals and, of course, students, parents and grandparents.
  • Here are just a few examples:
    • At UC Davis, in February 2012, the Students for Justice in Palestine interrupted, heckled and physically threatened speakers at a pro-Israel event, causing it to be shutdown.  The attendees reported fearing for their safety at the event and for weeks after.
    • Later that year, also at UC Davis, forty protestors blocked Jewish students from entering a university administrative building and bullied and harassed Jewish students who slipped through the blockade.
    • This past fall, a San Francisco State University student group, the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS), hosted an event where participants could make posters that said, “My Heroes Have Always Killed Colonizers,” referring to Jews, as well as posters of the convicted hijacker Leila Khaled holding a gun.  Leila Khaled is a member of the State-Department designated terrorist group, the PFLP, which is responsible for 159 violent terrorist acts.
    • Over the last year, the President of this same organization repeatedly threatened SFSU Jewish students, Israelis, and anyone who supports Israel.  He also glorified the PFLP.  For example, this student was shown wielding a knife on social media with the caption, “I love this blade…it makes me want to stab an Israeli soldier” and “the only peace I’m interested in is the head of this f**cking scum on a plate, as well as the heads of all others like her, and all others who support the IDF.”  He also stated that he hopes members of the SFSU student group Hillel “trip down the stairs and break their necks.”
    • Earlier this year, three University of California campuses hosted known anti-Semitic speaker Omar Barghouti.  At the events, Barghouti spewed classic anti-Semitic rhetoric and lies.
    • And, just two weeks ago, SFSU professors hosted an official department event to inform students about a recent Middle East trip where they met with individuals affiliated with US State Department-designated terrorist organizations responsible for the murder of numerous Jews worldwide.
  • As you can see, antisemitism is a serious problem on California college and university campuses.
  • Students have reported to us that they feel uncomfortable speaking freely about their support for Israel and have felt unsafe at times in their classrooms and on campus because they are Jewish.
  • In addition, we believe that a number of professors and departments are misusing taxpayer dollars to promote their personal anti-Israel and anti-Semitic agendas in the classroom and on campus, contributing to, and sometimes, inciting a hostile and potentially dangerous environment for Jewish students.
  • As you embark on your important task, we hope that you will make the issue of antisemitism at California colleges and universities part of your agenda and ensure California’s campuses are safe and welcoming environments for Jewish students.