University of California forms panel to probe anti-Semitism on campus

The decision on Friday came after Jewish representatives issues scathing denunciations of a proposed list of Principles Against Intolerance that did not directly mention anti-Semitism.

September 21, 2015 02:31
2 minute read.

Jewish groups at UC Berkeley campus rally against anti-Israeli events. (photo credit: FACEBOOK)

The governing body of the University of California voted to establish a committee to evaluate campus anti-Semitism following an intense lobbying campaign by Jewish organizations.

The decision on Friday came after Jewish representatives issues scathing denunciations of a proposed list of Principles Against Intolerance that did not directly mention anti-Semitism.

The regents had been expected to vote on a statement regarding anti-Semitism after intense lobbying for the university to officially adopt the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism, which includes the delegitimization of Israel.

More than 30 organizations, including Jewish fraternity AEPI, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Zionist Organization of America wrote to University of California regent Bruce D. Varner in July, requesting that substantive measures be taken to combat rising anti-Semitism on affiliated campuses.

Among the various incidents recalled by the complainants were one in which “Zionists should be sent to the gas chamber” was found written on a bathroom wall at UC Berkeley, one in which a Jew applying for a student union position found her suitability questioned on the basis of her religion, and the discovery of swastikas painted on a Jewish fraternity house at UC Davis.

“Originally expected to address the dramatic rise in anti-Semitism at UC, the UC office of the president instead released a proposed Principles Against Intolerance statement last week that didn’t even mention anti-Semitism and was a shocking disappointment. At today’s meeting, more than six regents condemned the statement for not addressing the serious problem of anti-Semitism on UC campuses,” the AMCHA Initiative, one of the groups pushing for the changes said.

“What is happening at UC to Jewish students is ugly and frightening and it’s only getting worse,” AMCHA’s Tammi Rossman-Benjamin told the regents. “In the wake of virulently anti-Israel activity, especially BDS campaigns, Jewish UC students have reported being harassed, assaulted, threatened, vilified and discriminated against, their property defaced and destroyed, and their events disrupted and shut down. This must be addressed immediately.”

“For years, Jewish students have been subjected to anti-Semitism. For years, we have been forced to wear the badges of our politicized identities. For years, UC administrators have allowed anti-Semitism to go unchecked. For years, we have suffered in silence. But we endure in silence no more,” a group of students at Friday’s meeting said in a joint statement to the regents.

“Enough is enough. It is time for our university to recognize, address and take a stance against anti-Semitism and all forms of identity-based hatred. It is time to give students the opportunity to speak about and define their experiences. Only then can we begin to heal the toxic campus climate, which has developed here due to years of inaction.”

“It was clear that their voices were heard because every single regent who spoke afterward expressed outrage at the notion that a generalized ‘statement against intolerance’ would be enough to address the toxic climate that has developed on UC campuses,” the campus activist group StandWithUs said Sunday.

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