University of California rules not to equate anti-Zionism with religious bigotry

The new statement of principles stems from concerns among Jewish students and faculty about a rise in anti-Semitism on several UC campuses in response to recent student activism in support of Israel.

By REUTERS
March 24, 2016 08:14
2 minute read.
berkley

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

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

SAN FRANCISCO - The University of California's regents declared on Wednesday they would not tolerate anti-Semitism on campus but rejected a proposal to equate anti-Zionism with religious bigotry, as they tried to defuse tensions between pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian students.

The statement of principles, approved unanimously by the university's governing board, stems from concerns among Jewish students and faculty about a rise in anti-Semitism on several UC campuses in response to recent student activism in support of Israel.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


Pro-Palestinian campus activists, however, say they are simply voicing legitimate criticism of Israel, which, they say, is being misconstrued, creating a pretext for pro-Israeli activists to squelch the Arab side of the Mideast debate.

The regents rebuffed draft language that would have broadly defined opposition to Israel as anti-Jewish bigotry, with the board instead voting to disapprove "anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism."

The action by California's flagship public university, reflecting a broader conflict playing out on college campuses nationwide, sought to strike a balance between condemning intolerance and protecting free speech.

The UC system is considered one of the most prestigious higher education institutions in the country, comprising 10 campuses including the University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, Los Angeles.

Critics said a blanket condemnation of anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism, as contained in the original draft, would have trampled academic freedom and opened the university to costly litigation.



Pro-Palestinian students called the statement the latest in a series of efforts to muzzle political criticism of Israel, including student movements pressing for divestiture or boycotts against the Jewish state.

"Are our stories and our struggles simply meant to be built over, forgotten?" asked Omar Zahzah, a UCLA graduate student whose relatives, he said, were forced from their homes with the 1948 founding of Israel.

But supporters of the draft, including student regent Abraham "Avi" Oved, whose parents were born in Israel, said anti-Zionism has evolved into a politically coded contemporary brand of anti-Semitism.

From their perspective, anti-Zionist rhetoric - marked by calls for Israel's destruction or denial of its right to exist - frequently feeds more overt forms of anti-Jewish hatred.

He cited an instance in which the phrase "Zionists should be sent to the gas chamber" was scrawled on a building at UC Berkeley after a student senate campaign calling for university divestment from U.S. companies doing business with Israel.

Regents, meeting at UC's San Francisco campus, ultimately adopted an amended statement declaring: "Anti-Semitism, anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California.

Some students said the final language still conflated a political doctrine with anti-Jewish bias and could suppress free speech.

"Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism have very little to do with each other," said Tallie Ben Daniel, an academic advisory council coordinator for the group Jewish Voice for Peace.

Related Content

August 20, 2018
Britain's Labour Party accused of censoring antisemitic material

By JTA