A lecturer in the University of California in Santa Cruz came under fire for accusing two Muslim students associations of having connections to Hamas and Hezbollah in a lecture given at an off-campus event in June 2012.
In a video posted on YouTube in February 2013, lecturer Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, who teaches Hebrew at UCSC, is shown addressing a crowd at Temple Ahavath Torah.
Benjamin is shown describing students from the Muslim Students Association and Students for Justine in Palestine as often being foreign students arriving at American universities from Muslim countries where they are "fed on a diet of anti-Semitism."
She accuses these student groups of having strong ties to terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood, and adds that they take part in international campaigns to demonize and illegitimize Israel.
"The MSA and SJP students have forcefully promoted their message on campus and in most cases there has been little resistance. As a result of the sheer quantity of MSA and SJP materials, an advanced anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian discourse has really dominated the campus square for over a decade, negatively affecting perceptions of literally hundreds of thousands of California University students," Rossman-Benjamin said.
Rossman-Benjamin co-founded the Amcha Initiative, an organization
that aims to protect the "safety and well-being of Jewish college and
university students" and to fight against anti-Jewish and anti-Israel discourse and behavior in classrooms and university-sponsored events.
An online petition by the Committee for Justice in Palestine at UCSC urges UCSC President Mark Yudof to condemn Rossman-Benjamin's "racist and defamatory claims."
In the petition, the group accuses the UCSC President's office of facilitating and promoting such remarks, saying that in an e-mail sent out to university students, Yudof adopted a "false narrative" presented to him in a letter written by Rossman-Benjamin, where she also makes claims tying the two student groups to Hamas and Hezbollah.
"The University of California and the Office of the President must take a clear stand against hate speech directed at marginalized communities, and distance itself from extremists like Tammi Benjamin and the Amcha Initiative that work to smear and silence student human rights campaigners," the group writes.
The petition has gathered almost 1,700 signatures of its 2,500 signature goal.
Last month, the Associated Students at the University of California (ASUC) at Berkeley condemned the "Islamophobic hate speech at the University of California." The ASUC also called on UCSC President Yudof to condemn Rossman-Benjamin's remarks.
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