Recent Op-Eds by AMCHA Co-Founder Discuss the Antisemitism of BDS
AMCHA co-founder Tammi Rossman-Benjamin exposes the antisemitic aspects of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaigns at the University of California and beyond in two recently published op-eds in the Los Angeles Daily News and JNS.
March 26, 2015
By Tammi Rossman-Benjamin
What is the campus climate like for Jewish students at the University of California? As the old Jewish joke goes: in one word, good; in two words, not good.
Let’s start with the good.
Last week, UC President Janet Napolitano and Board of Regents Chair Bruce Varner issued a strong statement condemning recent anti-Semitic incidents on UC campuses, which have included swastikas spray-painted on a Jewish fraternity house at UC Davis and the inappropriate questioning of a candidate for the student judiciary board about her Jewishness and Jewish affiliations at UCLA.
The Napolitano-Varner statement was issued on the heels of two other unprecedented responses to escalating anti-Semitic activity on UC campuses: the student senates at UCLA and UC Berkeley each unanimously approved resolutions condemning campus anti-Semitism.
Both resolutions invoked the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism as a standard for identifying anti-Semitic activity. The world’s most authoritative and well-accepted formulation of contemporary forms of anti-Semitism, the State Department’s definition recognizes that anti-Semitism often “manifests itself with regard to the state of Israel” and can include language or behavior that “demonize[s] Israel” by “blaming Israel for all inter-religious or political tensions,” “delegitimize[s] Israel” by “denying Israel the right to exist” or applies “double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”
These three statements by UC officials and student leaders acknowledging and condemning the heretofore officially unacknowledged problem of anti-Semitism on UC campuses are all good, and the student resolutions invoking the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism, which recognizes that certain expressions of animosity towards Israel are anti-Semitic, are very good indeed.
Now let’s turn to the not so good.
March 12, 2015
By Tammi Rossman-Benjamin
Last month, in a breathtaking display of anti-Semitism reminiscent of Nazi Germany, members of the student government at South Africa’s Durban University of Technology (DUT) called for the expulsion of all Jewish students from their campus. The very next day, halfway around the world, the student government at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) engaged in a similar display of anti-Jewish bigotry, nearly denying a highly qualified young woman a position on the student judiciary board after four student representatives brazenly argued that her Jewishness and affiliation with Jewish organizations should make her ineligible for the position.
Besides a shared proclivity for anti-Jewish bigotry, the DUT and UCLA student governments have something else in common: both bodies had previously voted to embrace the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. This is not a coincidence, but rather further evidence of the well-documented relationship between BDS and acts of anti-Semitism, particularly on college campuses. At schools where groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) promote BDS, Jewish students have routinely reported being harassed, physically and verbally assaulted, threatened, vilified, and discriminated against. Jewish students’ property and the property of Jewish student organizations have been defaced, damaged, or destroyed, while Jewish student events have been disrupted and shut down.
The link between BDS and anti-Semitism should come as no surprise to anyone who knows the history of the BDS movement, which ironically emerged at the 2001 U.N.-sponsored World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance—held in Durban, South Africa. Dubbed by former Canadian Minister of Justice and Attorney General Irwin Cotler as “the tipping point for the coalescence of a new, virulent, globalizing anti-Jewishness,” the Durban conference and its concomitant NGO Forum featured posters displaying Nazi icons, anti-Jewish cartoons, hecklers chanting “Jew, Jew, Jew,” and wide distribution of the virulently anti-Semitic “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” forgery. Tom Lantos, the late member of the U.S. Congress and Holocaust survivor, was part of the American delegation to the Durban conference and said the following: “For me, having experienced the horrors of the Holocaust firsthand, this was the most sickening and unabashed display of hate for Jews I have seen since the Nazi period.”
If you haven’t already, join our Alumni Network!
Thank you for taking action to protect Jewish students!