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AMCHA co-founders’ response to President Koester

Dec 7, 2011

Re: Responding to your letter about anti-Semitic webpages on the CSUN server

Dear President Koester,

We thank you for your letter responding to our email and those of numerous members of the Jewish community regarding what we consider to be abuses of CSUN’s — and therefore the California taxpayers’ — resources, through the hosting of Professor David Klein’s anti-Semitic webpages (including this one) on the CSUN server.   However, we are appalled by your response and believe that it indicates an egregious failure of leadership.  You  have chosen to  abdicate and misapply the authority vested in you as President of CSUN:

  • You have willfully ignored the CSUN policy that prohibits the name of the University to be associated with boycotts and other politically-motivated activity;
  • You have willfully ignored the CSUN policy which states: “Use of computers, networks and computing facilities for activities other than academic purposes or University business is not permitted”;
  • You have willfully ignored the CSUN policy that gives the University the right to remove “any defamatory, offensive, infringing, or illegal materials” from its website.
  • You have mistakenly interpreted academic freedom and freedom of speech to mean that a university-sponsored, publicly-funded website can be used to promote defamatory lies and purvey a vile anti-Semitic screed.
  • You have willfully ignored the fact that Professor Klein’s webpages have almost certainly contributed to a hostile environment for Jewish students on your campus, in violation of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

As you state in your response, you do so because the University “upholds academic freedom, eschews censorship, and defends rights to express points of view.”  Yet, we are not referring here to the right of an academic to disseminate his controversial ideas in his area of expertness. Nor are we referring to the right of an academic, as a private citizen, to express his provocative ideas on his own blog.  Professor Klein is a professor of mathematics.  By no stretch of the imagination can his academic freedom rights in mathematics be used as a cover for anti-Semitic propaganda against the Jewish state and its supporters.

If, as you say, CSUN has no choice but to tolerate Professor Klein’s speech on its website, we question why you and the CSU administration have not exercised your own freedom of speech.   You have remained silent and chosen not to acknowledge or condemn blatant anti-Jewish bigotry, although you yourself have stated that your responsibility is “to speak out and even condemn ideas and views that are racist.”

We demand that you exercise your responsibility and declare to the University community that Professor Klein’s views are deeply offensive and violate the University’s policy of tolerance and inclusiveness.

We demand that you exercise the full authority vested in you as University President by removing Professor Klein’s anti-Semitic webpages from the CSUN server.

We look forward to hearing what further actions you will take.

In the meantime, we will continue our own efforts to investigate and expose the problem of anti-Jewish bigotry at CSUN, and we will use every means available to us to address it.

Please understand that the Jewish community will not remain silent while anti-Semitism goes unchecked on your campus.


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

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

CC:  CSU Chancellor Charles Reed
CSUN Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Harold Hellenbrand
CSUN Department of Mathematics Chair Werner Horn


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