Paying for Anti-Semitism in Public Universities

by Alexander Kreedman, UCSD Alumnus

Is criticism of the state of Israel Anti-Semitism??[1] By associating Anti-Semitism with Israel does it prevent criticism against Israel and incite hatred against Jews by proxy.[2] The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) defines hate speech, against Israel as Anti-Semitic only if it is used to prevent Jews from receiving equal benefits as any other ethnic or religious group would.[3] The European Union provides examples in which anti-Semitism manifests itself with regard to the state of Israel, which include “using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis, drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis, [or] holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.”[4] The existence of Anti-Semitism in the modern world can be seen from a case study of the University of California (UC) system.

During the July 9, 2012 meeting of the UC President’s Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture, and Inclusion, two reports were submitted dealing with the discussion of Middle Eastern politics from the perspective of  Jewish students[5] along with the perspective of Muslim and Arab[6] students. Both reports argue for increased rights, more protection of students, and maintaining the neutrality of the University. A month later, the California Assembly drafted a resolution called HR-35[7] in which the Assembly “commends the initial actions taken by the University of California (UC) to address anti-Semitism on its campuses.”

It proceeds to list items where bias could be found and argues that University of California’s politics should not be influenced by acts of intolerance. Notably, it emphasizes the BDS movement’s continued misuse of the term apartheid and its attempts to compare Israeli policies vis a vis Palestine to Nazi Germany’s attempt to systematically exterminate  the Jewish people. HR-35 wants the University of California system to maintain its neutrality and respect the rights of the students by “taking additional actions to confront anti-Semitism on its campuses, with due respect to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.”[8]

At the most recent University of California Student Association’s (UCSA) board meeting, their board passed a resolution (12 voted in favor, 2abstained, 0 voted against) condemning HR-35 and the University of California Jewish Student Campus Climate Fact-Finding Team Report & Recommendations. Their resolution describes HR-35 as a “direct effect to suppress legitimate criticism of Israeli policy and Palestine solidarity activism, and stifles robust political debate on public university campuses.”[9] Ironically, when students who identified as part of a Muslim group were asked about intimidation by the fact-finding mission for Muslim & Arab students, they  responded that they experienced “No intimidation” but rather claim to “do a good job of intimidating Jews and Christians who support Israel.”[10] The report further highlights multiple occurrences of people in Arab, Middle Eastern, or peace and justice group who “intimidate others who support Israel.”[11]One of many reported events took place at UC San Diego the week before ASUCSD voted on a divestment resolution during the academic year of 2011-2012 Jewish students celebrating the Jewish Sabbath felt threatened when students drove past the International Center with Palestinian flags in a threatening fashion.

The UCSA claims that HR-35 is  “written to unfairly and falsely smear as “anti-Semites” those who do human rights advocacy focusing on Israel’s illegal occupation, alleging that the UC faculty and staff involved in such work are motivated by anti-Semitism [5] rather than by the political ideals of equality and respect for universal human rights they affirm, ideals UCSA and most California students share.”[12] The 12-member board of the UCSA never made an attempt to reach out to get the opinions of pro-Israel students. There was no agenda published or communication sent to any pro-Israel organization but allotted ample time to Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) to argue their side.[13] .  This bias is clearly designed to throw pro-Israel students under the bus.  

Multiple pro-Israel organizations have come out with statements slamming the decision of the UCSA. StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein put it best by calling the resolution

“…attack on legitimate concerns about anti-Israel extremism and anti-Semitism and is deeply disturbing, but even more disturbing are the proponents’ devious, undemocratic tactics. They essentially ambushed Jewish and other pro-Israel students by using secretive tactics and not notifying anyone who might disagree with the proposed resolution. Adding to their lack of transparency, they debated the resolution during the weekend of Rosh Hashanah, the holiest days of the Jewish year, when Jewish students were unavailable to debate the anti-Israel resolution. It’s not surprising they reported that no dissenting views were heard. We’ve seen anti-Israel extremists use these guerrilla tactics in the past to shut down debate and ram through their hostile agenda.  This is a recurring pattern.”[14]

This is not the first time the UCSA has avoided neutrality. Following Ambassador Michael Oren speech at UC Irvine in 2010, the UCSA publically condemned the Orange County District Attorney’s office for (OCDA) its prosecution of eleven students that disrupted the ambassador’s speech.[15] The students that refused to accept plea deals were found guilty of one misdemeanor count of conspiring to disrupt Michael Oren’s February 8th, 2010 speech at UC Irvine and one misdemeanor count for disrupting it.[16] 

The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) at UC San Diego released the following statement on the UCSA resolution:

“While we recognize that members of the UCSA may have had concerns with HR35 that led to the passage of the UCSA resolution, we, the Union of Jewish Students at UC San Diego, take up issue with the fact that student input was not requested nor sought out. Decisions were made without consultation with neither the ASUCSD student body nor the stakeholders that are most affected by this resolution.”[17]

In addition to disregarding the opinions of Jewish communities at UC San Diego, almost all UCs are on the quarter system. This means that at the time of the passage of this resolution, most UCs were not in session. Additionally the UCSA discussion and vote were held on the Shabbat prior to Rosh Hashanah which further adds insult to injury of the communities affected.  UCSA has effectively undermined all campuses which are funding it who had no say in their decision.

As expressed in the University of California Jewish Student Campus Climate Fact-Finding Team Report & Recommendations, “This absence has created a perceived gap… regarding Jewish campus climate and rests on assumptions and stereotypes. This last point was made evident at UC San Diego where several students and faculty insisted that their Climate Council was reserved for underrepresented minorities…which ignore the history of bigotry and hostility directed at Jews which is still very much a part of the campus community and society at large.”[18] This shows how minorities once they ascertain power will do whatever it takes to avoid having it marginalized which defeats the purpose of minority rights and turns them into the monster which they claim to be against, “privilege”. The hostility effecting Jewish students as seen by the statement released by the UJS at UCSD shows the education environment that our children face today. If only there could be a way for these students to defend themselves and defund the UCSA for violating neutrality to actively plot and side against pro-Israel and Jewish students.

Unfortunately, the marginalized students are also paying for the UCSA. For all campuses that are a part of UCSA[19], they are required to submit payment of funds to the UCSA and currently there is no way for any student who disagrees with the politics the UCSA is spewing to protest by requesting their funds back. The expected financial contribution that ASUCSD pays to UCSA is $1.50 per student for this academic year. But UCSA membership may be granted as low as $1.30 per student. Last year UC San Diego paid $2.24 per student to UCSA. For the sake of lower student fees, based on enrollment costs going to minimum, ASUCSD should cut its financial ties to UCSA and save the dwindling financial resources of the students. If so, ASUCSD could save $21,416.

If you would like to assist with the protection of rights of Jewish UC Students, we urge everyone to mail a physical letter to your local California Assemblymember expressing disappointment with the University of California Student Association (UCSA) recommendation to the UC Office of the President to ignore HR-35 at all UC campuses. If you need a bit of help with writing, a form letter can be found below. Additionally the organization Stand With Us has set up a petition condemning UCSA actions and to recommend to institute official efforts to address anti-Semitism on UC campuses.[20]

 

Name

    

[Street Address]— [City], [State] [Postal Code]— Phone: [Your Phone] — Fax: [Your Fax]
E-Mail: [Your E-Mail] Web: [Web Address]

Date: [Insert Date]

[Recipient]
[Title]

[Company]
[Address 1]
[Address 2]
[Address 3]

Dear Assemblymember __________________:

I would like to thank the Assembly and the Assemblymember for their recent passage of HR-35: Relative to anti-Semitism. As a ______[Jewish, Pro-Israel, Israeli]_____ [student, alumni] ______ at UC San Diego, I feel that the passage of HR-35 will ensure a positive campus climate for my fellow like-minded students.

Unfortunately, as of September 15, 2012, the University of California Student Association (UCSA) has called for the recommendations of HR-35 to be ignored by the University of California Office of the President and its associated campuses, including UCSD. UCSA takes between 1.30 and 7.05 per student within the entire UC system to fund its operations, including this misguided campaign against HR-35. As your constituent, I feel that this is a misuse of my student fees and the ability to opt out of UCSA dues or allowing greater representation should be mandated within UCSA. There is no one clearly representing our community and standing up against anti-Semitism on UCSA.

I encourage the Assembly to consider action to ensure that University of California student fees are not used to contribute towards an anti-Semitic campaign by the UCSA.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]
[Your Title]

 

 


[1] As defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary. See Entries 1 & 4: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/judaism

[2] “Harassment policies in the university”, Alan Charles Kors, Society, vol.28, no.4 (May/June 1991), pp.22-30, Springer, ISSN:0147-2011 (Print), ISSN:1936-4725 (Online)

[3] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 20: “Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law”.

[4] University of California Jewish Student Campus Climate Fact-Finding Team Report & Recommendations: http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/documents/campus_climate_jewish.pdf  : Page 9

[5] ^See 4

[6] Muslim & Arab Student Campus Climate at the University of California Fact-Finding Team Report & Recommendations: http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/documents/campus_climate_muslim-arab.pdf

[8] ^See 7: Section 8

[9] A Resolution Regarding California Assembly Bill HR 35: Approved by the University of California Student Association: 9/15/2012 (12 for, 2 abstain, 0 against): 4th Paragraph [Collected from:  http://calsjp.org/?p=1297%5D

[10] ^See 5: Page 53, Question 8, Response 2

[11] ^See 5: Page 58: Question 12: Response 1

[12] ^See 8: 9th Paragraph

[13] Stand With Us: Devious Tactics Lead to UC Student Association to Pass Anti-Israel Resolution: http://standwithus.com/app/iNews/view_n.asp?ID=2435: 4th Paragraph

[14] ^See 9: 3rd Paragraph

[15] UCSA Passes Legislation in Support of Irvine 11: Against the Criminalization of Peaceful Protest: http://www.irvine11.com/ucsa-passes-legislation-in-support-of-irvine-11/

[16] Students guilty of disrupting speech in ‘Irvine 11’ case: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/sep/24/local/la-me-irvine-eleven-20110924

[17] Statement Regarding UCSA Transparency and Campus Climate Concerns: https://www.facebook.com/ujs.ofucsd/posts/356193364468161

[18] ^See 4: Page 10

[19] A notable exception is UC Davis who is not apart of the UCSA.

[20] Stand With Us: UC Petition: http://www.standwithus.com/petitions/uc/

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