U. of California adopts amended denunciation of anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism

The University of California logo. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

(JNS.org) The 10-school University of California (UC) system's Board of Regents on Thursday adopted what Jewish groups are calling a landmark report condemning anti-Semitism on campus, including forms of anti-Zionism that are anti-Semitic. The Regents took a voice vote on the report, and there were no objections to adopting it.

The “Principles Against Intolerance” report—originally proposed last September—was compiled in response to Jewish students’ campaign to get UC leaders to take action against various forms of anti-Jewish racism throughout UC’s campuses. The incidents have included vandalism with swastikas, discrimination in the selection of student government leaders, and disruption of pro-Israel speakers.

The Regents’ adopted report declares, “Anti-Semitism, anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism, and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California.” That language marks an amendment from the original version of the report, which stated, “Anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California.”

“Jewish students now have an important protection against the anti-Semitic harassment, especially when it takes the form of anti-Zionism,” said Kenneth L. Marcus, head of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law. Marcus served as one of the Regents’ two national experts on anti-Semitism for their process of compiling of the report.

“What an important day for Jewish students in California, nationally, and internationally,” said Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, director of the AMCHA Initiative, an anti-Semitism watchdog group. “There is absolutely no doubt that anti-Zionism is the driving force behind the alarming rise in anti-Semitism at UC and at schools across the country....This is a significant step forward for the wellbeing of Jewish students at UC, and its impact will be felt nationwide.”

Eric D. Fingerhut, president and CEO of Hillel International, said the Regents “have taken an important step in ensuring the safety of Jewish students on all California campuses.”

“There are lines that cannot be crossed on American campuses, and anti-Semitism should be one of them,” said Fingerhut.

“Denying Israel’s right to exist and opposing the rights of the Jewish people to self-determination in their homeland is racism, pure and simple,” said Roz Rothstein, CEO of the pro-Israel education group StandWithUs. “I commend the Regents for hearing the voices of Jewish students and recognizing that anti-Semitism manifests itself in relation to Israel far too often within the UC system.”

The Regents’ amended language on anti-Zionism was less “unequivocal” than the original version, but was still a “major step forward in educating the UC community about the nuanced forms of anti-Semitism Jewish students face today,” StandWithUs added.

Posted on March 23, 2016 .