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CSUN President and Prof. attack us using University resources and name

From: Tammi Rossman-Benjamin <>
Date: Thu, May 17, 2012 at 9:49 AM
Subject: CSUN President and Prof. attack us using University resources and name

Dear Chancellor Reed,


We remain deeply dismayed that you have not responded to our letters to you, nor to the letters of numerous members of the Jewish community, urging you to remove Professor David Klein’s “Boycott Israel Resource Page” from the CSU Northridge server. Disappointingly, you have not even acknowledged our concerns.


Now, however, we are writing to inform you of a more personal matter.  We believe that CSUN Professor David Klein and Interim President Harold Hellenbrand have been using University and taxpayer resources unlawfully and the name and prestige of the California State University to mount what we believe are defamatory attacks targeting one or both of us:


1) For the last several weeks, Professor Klein has included as the first item referenced on his Boycott Israel webpage a link entitled “Rossman-Benjamin: The Face of a Police State Academic.” The article to which his webpage is linked bears the same title and was written by British anti-Zionist Tony Greenstein, a leader of the international campaign to boycott Israel.  Greenstein’s article includes the following verbal assault against Tammi Rossman-Benjamin and the AMCHA Initiative, a grassroots organization which we co-founded to promote the safety and well-being of Jewish students on California campuses:


  • Greenstein compares Tammi Rossman-Benjamin to a Nazi collaborator, writing: “Rossman-Benjamin reminds me of the court academics who prostituted themselves in 1933 when the Nazis came to power.” He has posted three photographs of Tammi next to a photograph of Martin Heidegger, whose caption reads: “famous philosopher who lent his talents to the cause of the 3rd Reich,” and he has accused her of “climbing into bed with Hitler supporters.”
  • Greenstein calls Tammi a “police state academic,” a “junk academic,” a “zombie,” a “fruit cake,” and a “McCarthyite apparatchick,” and he insinuates that she is part of the “racist right.”
  • Greenstein falsely implies that the AMCHA Initiative is funded by the Israeli government.


Professor Klein’s inclusion of a link to Tony Greenstein’s article on his CSUN-hosted webpage is further evidence of the misuse of university and taxpayer-funded resources to promote Klein’s own partisan agenda, in this case a vicious personal attack on Tammi and the AMCHA Initiative, among other things.


2) CSU Northridge Interim President Harold Hellenbrand has recently issued an official statement entitled “J’ACCUSE! THE NEW ANTI-ANTI-SEMITISM,” which he posted as the April ’12 “Provost’s Message” on the Academic Affairs home page and circulated widely by email to all CSUN faculty and administrators. In his statement, President Hellenbrand demonizes and delegitimizes the AMCHA Initiative’s efforts to address the issue of anti-Jewish bigotry at CSUN.  For example:


  • President Hellenbrand criticizes the recent policy articulated by the U.S. Department of Education affording civil rights protection to Jewish students, and he falsely accuses the AMCHA Initiative of capitalizing on the new policy “to denounce, with the fury of Jeremiah, dissent to policy as if it were apostasy.”
  • President Hellenbrand falsely accuses the AMCHA Initiative of being a Jewish messianic organization, which “fantasizes its inception as a Golden State recapitulation of the in-gathering of the Jews under the Word”.
  • President Hellenbrand falsely accuses the AMCHA Initiative of violating U.S. law through “entangling alliance with a foreign power [Israel]” and ignoring “the separation of church and state”.
  • Ironically, although President Hellenbrand accuses us of using University resources for engaging in political advocacy — by which he presumably means the occasional and legitimate use of our UC email accounts to send letters to university administrators urging them to ensure that Jewish students are protected on their campuses (hardly a use of University resources) — as we have noted in our previous letter to you, President Hellenbrand himself has used his administrative office and substantial taxpayer dollars to promote  his own highly partisan and political agenda.
President Hellenbrand’s statement contains false and wild charges and is unprofessional, politically-motivated, and highly unbecoming of the top CSUN administrator. Moreover, his astonishing lack of sensitivity to the issue of anti-Jewish bigotry is extremely offensive to a great many members of the Jewish community.


We believe that Professor Klein’s and President Hellenbrand’s behavior is in clear violation of California state law, including California Government Code 8314, which prohibits any state employee from using public resources for personal benefit, and California Education Code 89005.5(a)(2)(C), which prohibits the use of the state-owned name CSU Northridge for the purpose of promoting personal or political activities including boycott.


Moreover, we believe that Professor Klein and President Hellenbrand are using their University positions and privileged access to University internet and electronic services to silence the legitimate concerns we are raising about their misuse of University and taxpayer resources for promoting a political hatred of the Jewish state and its supporters. Indeed, we note that to the extent that Professor Klein and President Hellenbrand are violating our constitutionally-protected freedom of expression, their speech cannot be considered constitutionally protected.


Finally, besides the potential violations of state and federal law that we have enumerated, we believe the behavior of Professor Klein and President Hellenbrand suggests an egregious failure of leadership at CSUN.


We therefore urge you, as CSU Chancellor, to take the following actions immediately:


1) Remove Professor Klein’s offensive webpage from the CSUN server.


2) Remove President Hellenbrand’s “J’ACCUSE” statement from the Academic Affairs website and replace it with an apology to the AMCHA Initiative for misusing the CSUN Office of Academic Affairs to promote a highly partisan and political message.


3) Post on your Chancellor’s website and circulate widely among all CSU faculty and administrators a statement articulating the state and federal laws and University policies prohibiting the use of University resources for partisan or political purposes, and insist on the proper enforcement of these laws and policies by all CSU employees. 


We hope to hear from you soon regarding this matter, which is of great importance not only to us personally, but to the entire Jewish community.




Tammi Rossman-Benjamin
Co-founder the AMCHA Initiative


Leila Beckwith
Co-founder the AMCHA Initiative

CSU Presidents
CSU Board of Trustees
CSU General Counsel Christine Helwick
California Governor Jerry Brown
California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom
California Speaker of the Assembly John A. Perez
California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson
California Attorney General Kamala Harris
Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley
City Attorney for the City of Los Angeles Carmen A. Trutanich
Congressman Brad Sherman
Congressman Howard Berman
California State Senator Alex Padilla (Northridge)
California State Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield (Northridge)Bcc: Members and supporter of the Jewish community

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