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AMCHA Co-founders Respond to UC Regents Chairwoman Sherry Lansing’s Letter

September 12, 2012

Re: Letter from the Jewish Community to UC Regents and President

Dear UC Regents Chairman Lansing,

On August 14, we sent the Regents a petition signed by more than 1,000 members and supporters of the California Jewish community, including more than 250 UC alumni, more than 250 UC parents, and more than 100 UC donors.  The signatories expressed outrage at the recent decision of the UCLA Academic Senate Committee on Academic Freedom to allow a professor to promote on his class website a boycott of Israel deemed anti-Semitic by the U.S. Department of State.  We are very disappointed by your response (forwarded below).  In particular, we find your silence regarding the concerns of the Jewish community deeply disturbing, for the following reasons:
1) More than 1,000 members and supporters of the Jewish community asked the Regents to publicly acknowledge their legal responsibility to ensure that UC classrooms are free from the promotion of political propaganda, and you were silent.  As you know, the Regents Policy on Course Content (also known as the Regents Policy on Academic Freedom) states:

“They (The Regents) are responsible to ensure that public confidence in the University is justified. And they are responsible to see that the University remain aloof from politics and never function as an instrument for the advance of partisan interest. Misuse of the classroom by, for example, allowing it to be used for political indoctrination… constitutes misuse of the University as an institution.”
In your response, you did not even mention the Regents Policy let alone publicly commit the Regents to its enforcement.  The Regents’ abnegation of responsibility in this matter is causing many in the Jewish community to lose confidence in the leadership of the University of California.

2) More than 1,000 members and supporters of the Jewish community expressed their anger and outrage at the fact that a professor used his classroom to promote an anti-Semitic boycott of Israel, and you were silent.  The Regents’ unwillingness to exercise the moral authority of their office and their Constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of speech to condemn the academic and cultural boycott of Israel and all other anti-Jewish bigotry on UC campuses belies your claim that “the Regents do not sanction anti-Semitism at the University of California.”
3) More than 1,000 members and supporters of the Jewish community reached out to the Regents to address their serious concerns about the safety and well-being of Jewish students on UC campuses, and you were silent. We firmly believe that the Regents would not treat the concerns of any other ethnic or minority group with the indifference and insensitivity they have shown to the concerns raised by members of the Jewish community, and we find the Regents’ double standard deeply offensive.

We believe the UC Regents owe the Jewish community an apology, and we call on them, once again, to exercise their legal and moral responsibility in this matter.

Please note that Jewish community leaders from across the state have been copied on this email.

We look forward to hearing from you.


Leila Beckwith
Professor Emeritus, University of California at Los Angeles
Co-founder the AMCHA Initiative

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin
Lecturer, University of California at Santa Cruz
Co-founder the AMCHA Initiative

UC Regents
UC President Mark Yudof
UC Chancellors
UC Provost Dorr
UC Academic Senate Chair Anderson
UC Academic Senate Vice Chair Powell
UC General Counsel Robinson
UC Secretary and Chief of Staff Kelman
UC Interim Diversity Coordinator Bernal
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 Senator Fran Pavley (UCLA)
California Senator Ted W. Lieu (UCLA)
California Senator Curren D. Price, Jr. (UCLA)
California Assembly Member Holly J. Mitchell (UCLA)
California Assembly Member Mike Feuer (UCLA)
United States Congressman Howard Berman
United States Congressman Brad Sherman
California Jewish community leaders

Members and supporters of the Jewish community

From: Marsha Kelman

Date: Tue, Aug 21, 2012 at 8:59 AM
Subject: RE: Letter from the Jewish Community to UC Regents and President
To: Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, Leila Beckwith

Dear Professor Beckwith and Ms. Rossman-Benjamin,

On behalf of Chairman Lansing, I want to acknowledge your email of August 14 which included a petition signed by members and supporters of the California Jewish community. Please be clear that the Regents do not sanction anti-Semitism at the University of California. We continue to work to be sure that the UC campuses are safe and welcoming for everyone.

President Yudof, Regent Gould, and Regent Lansing issued the attached statement in May 2010 declaring that they would not bring a recommendation before the Board to divest from companies doing business with the State of Israel.  This continues to be the Board’s position and they feel as strongly about that now as they did then. The Regents will only consider divestment from a foreign government or companies doing business with a foreign government only when the United States government declares that a foreign regime is committing acts of genocide.

The Regents are in agreement with President Yudof that the Senate, and UCLA administration, are handling this matter as stated according to the University policy and the principles of academic freedom. I will reference your letter in the monthly communications summary sent to the Regents.


Marsha Kelman

Secretary & Chief of Staff to the Regents


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