AMCHA Initiative Bulletin – May 30, 2017

A Hillel-sponsored Israeli Independence Day event at UCSC was intentionally disrupted, access was blocked and the event was ruined by student protesters while the administration remains silent. Write to Chancellor Blumenthal today.

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133 UCSC Stakeholders and Santa Cruz Jewish Community Leaders Write Open Letter (Drafted & Coordinated by AMCHA) to Chancellor Blumenthal Demanding Implementation of the Regents’ Statement Against Intolerance

      

 
TAKE ACTION: Write to Chancellor Blumenthal (chancellor@ucsc.edu) echoing the requests of UCSC Stakeholders: “Dear Chancellor Blumenthal, Following a letter you received from 133 UCSC Stakeholders and Jewish Community Leaders about your office’s silence in the face of egregious civil rights violations committed against Jewish students, I stand with the Jewish community in urging you to immediately issue a public statement committing to fully implementing the Regents Statement Against Intolerance and developing a long-term plan of action. This plan needs to include ensuring that prompt disciplinary measures are taken when any individual or group engages in behavior that suppresses the freedom of expression or civil rights of others. Thank you.”  
 
NOTE: The Santa Cruz Sentinel published both an article about the letter and the letter itself. Below is the full letter, and you can read the article about AMCHA’s campaign in the Sentinel here

 

 

Open Letter To Chancellor Blumenthal By 133 UCSC Stakeholders and Santa Cruz Jewish Community Leaders

Dear Chancellor Blumenthal,
 
We are Santa Cruz Jewish community leaders and UCSC stakeholders – students, alumni, faculty, staff, parents and donors – who write to you today because we are gravely concerned about recent acts of egregious intolerance towards Jewish students at a UCSC Hillel event, and the university’s wholly inadequate response to them.  
 
Two weeks ago a Hillel-sponsored, university-approved event in Quarry Plaza — a celebration of Israeli Independence Day that scores of Jewish and pro-Israel students had devoted hours of planning for many months and that was to be Hillel’s largest event of the year – was intentionally disrupted and ruined by student protesters led by the African/Black Student Alliance (A/BSA). Last year, hundreds of students attended the Israeli Independence Day celebration and were intending to do so again this year.  
 
However, shortly after the Hillel students had set up their event, protesters streamed into Quarry Plaza and, for more than an hour, purposefully blocked Hillel’s tables from being accessed and used a public address system at full blast, making it impossible for attendees to hear and enjoy the program planned for the Hillel event.  In addition, after A/BSA leaders called for standing in solidarity with their Palestinian brothers and sisters, some protesters yelled “Free Palestine,” “F*** Jewish Slugs,” “F*** Zionist Slugs,” and tore down an Israeli flag at the Hillel event.
 
Despite the fact that the previous week Hillel Director Sarah Cohen Domont had informed UCSC administrators of the impending A/BSA protest and asked for assistance in ensuring that the Hillel event would not be disrupted, only one member of the university staff, Associate Vice Chancellor Jean Marie Scott, was present during the protest. No security was there to prevent the disruption or was called once it began. 
 
Even worse, it has been more than two weeks since these events took place, and your office has yet to say a single word even acknowledging, let alone condemning, this blatant suppression of Jewish and pro-Israel students’ freedom of expression and assembly.  Nor have the students who perpetrated these acts been subject to disciplinary actions or held accountable for their reprehensible behavior.  This is an outrage.
 
Worst of all, however, is that this latest incident is part of a longstanding and pervasive pattern of intolerant behavior targeting Jewish and pro-Israel students that has gone unaddressed by your administration for many years.  For example, within the last two years:

  • A pro-LGBTQ Hillel event entitled “Being Queer in Israel” was disrupted by a group of anti-Israel protesters, who entered the event bearing anti-Zionist placards and disrupted the talk by reading a prepared statement falsely accusing Israel of genocide and shouting “Long live the intifada!” Jewish students who had organized the event reported feeling “violated” and “attacked” by the protestors. 
  • Jewish students complained about being targeted and harassed after members of Students for Justice in Palestine set up mock checkpoints on campus, insisting that students show ID cards before entering the library during finals week. 
  • A talk by two Israeli soldiers promoted by Slugs for Israel was disrupted by anti-Israel protesters, who shouted down the speakers and prevented them from speaking.  
  • A  Jewish member of the student government was warned to “abstain” from voting on an anti-Israel divestment resolution because he was the president of the school’s Jewish Student Union and was “elected with a Jewish agenda.” 

As you know, last year the UC Regents unanimously approved a Statement of Principles Against Intolerance, in which they called on all UC chancellors “to respond promptly, and at the highest levels of the University…when intolerant and/or discriminatory acts occur.” In fulfillment of the responsibilities articulated by the UC Regents, as well as your legal obligation to protect the civil rights of all UCSC students, we urge you to immediately issue a public statement committing to fully implementing the Regents Statement Against Intolerance and developing a long-term plan of action.  
 
We strongly recommend that you incorporate the following into your plan of action:

  1. Review, update and diligently enforce campus policies and procedures to guarantee that all members of the campus community, irrespective of their opinions, beliefs or identity, are equitably and adequately protected from intolerant behavior that infringes on their freedom of expression and denies them equal rights. 
  2. Ensure that prompt and appropriate disciplinary measures are taken when any individual or group engages in behavior that suppresses the freedom of expression or civil rights of others.  To be a credible deterrent against campus abuses, “appropriate disciplinary measures” must include rigorous penalties such as suspension and expulsion for individuals, and the loss of university approval for groups.
  3. Develop educational and training programs that can: 
    • Help members of the campus community to recognize and avoid intolerant behavior that suppresses others’ freedom of expression or denies them equal rights, and to be aware of all campus policies and procedures regarding such behavior;
    • Teach and encourage the expression of a wide range of views in a productive and respectful manner; 
    • Inculcate an understanding of and appreciation for the First Amendment and its critical role in supporting the academic mission of the university.

 
We look forward to hearing what steps you will be taking to ensure that Jewish and pro-Israel students, and all UCSC students, are free to express their opinions, beliefs and identities and to fully participate in campus life, now and in the future.
 
Sincerely,
 
133 UCSC Students, Faculty, Alumni, Parents and Donors 
Rabbi Eli Cohen, Chadeish Yameinu
Sanford Diller, Helen Diller Family Foundation
Angela Eisenpress, President Congregation Kol Tefillah
Rabbi Debbie Israel, Congregation Emeth
Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, AMCHA Initiative
Anastasia Torres-Gil, Board Member and Immediate Past President Santa Cruz Hadassah

 
 






Sampling of Antisemitic Activity in May 2017

 For all activity, please see AMCHA’s Antisemitism Tracker 

A video summarizing the disruption of a Students Supporting Israel event at UC Irvine on May 10, 2017. Source credit of video footage: Gary Fouse. AMCHA Initiative created this summary video. Please share with your family and friends. 

May 18, 2017 – UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA ASHEVILLE – 
UNC Asheville’s Department of Political Science, the Palestinian/Jewish Egalitarian Team of Asheville, and Just Peace for Israel/Palestine of Black Mountain co-sponsored a film screening of “The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States.” In the film, several speakers condoned terrorism against Israelis by justifying all violence against Israel, including acts of terrorism against Israeli citizens, as legitimate “resistance.” Many of the speakers demonized Israel, falsely accusing the Israeli government of “terrorism,” “murderous attacks,” and “acting like a monster,” and calling Israeli soldiers’ actions “inhumane” and “brutal.”
(ANTISEMITIC EXPRESSION: CONDONING TERRORISM; DEMONIZATION)

May 15, 2017 – NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY – 
As part of “Israeli Apartheid Week,” SJP invited convicted PFLP terrorist Rasmea Odeh to speak on campus for an event entitled, “When you come for Rasmea you come for all of us.” According to an article in the Forward, during the event, Odeh told audience members, “Aside from Israel, this is the main front in the battle for Palestinian rights. You must continue to fight American Zionism.” Odeh further called for the “right of return” which would effectively eliminate Israel as a Jewish state.
(ANTISEMITIC EXPRESSION: DENYING JEWS SELF-DETERMINATION)


Swastikas found at the University of New Hampshire on May 12, 2017. Source Credit: Fosters.com
May 12, 2017 – UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE – 
At least nine swastikas were found drawn in black marker on the wall of a stairwell in Stoke Hall, the largest dorm on campus. The swastikas appear to have been written backward.
(TARGETING JEWISH STUDENTS AND STAFF: GENOCIDAL EXPRESSION; HISTORICAL)

May 11, 2017 – CITY COLLEGE OF NEW YORK – 
SJP members disrupted the Q & A portion of an SSI event with Israeli Ambassador Dani Dayan. Protesting audience members hurled hostile accusations of “ethnic cleansing, apartheid, forced sterilization, and genocide” as well as repeatedly disturbed Ambassador Dayan when he would try to answer a question, then finally ended the disruption with loud chants of “No Justice, No Peace” and “Free, Free Palestine” before leaving. 
 (TARGETING JEWISH STUDENTS AND STAFF: SUPPRESSION OF SPEECH/MOVEMENT/ASSEMBLY; DEMONIZATION; DELEGITIMIZATION)

May 10, 2017 – UC SANTA BARBARA – 
The student government discussed and voted on a divestment resolution. The resolution failed with 0 yes, 15 no and 7 abstentions.
(BDS ACTIVITY: BDS VOTE)

May 10, 2017 – CSU LONG BEACH – 
The student government discussed and voted on a third and final reading of a divestment resolution to divest from companies doing business with Israel. The resolution passed 15-7 with one abstention. According to the school newspaper, during public comments at the meeting, one student demonized Israel and its supporters saying, “I support this resolution because it is the right thing to do as a human being. If you actually believe that Israel ever intends for peace, your entire cognitive development is a disaster, disaster! They are trying to justify genocide!”
(ANTISEMITIC EXPRESSION: DEMONIZATION; BDS ACTIVITY (BDS VOTE))

May 10, 2017 – SAINT OLAF COLLEGE – 
Oles for Justice in Palestine created a petition asking the College to remove Arne Christenson from the Advisory Board of the Institute for Freedom and Community at St. Olaf College, claiming that “his continued leadership in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)” poses “a serious threat to academic freedom at St. Olaf College.” The petition further states, “Mr. Christenson’s ability to assess the handling and distribution of finite resources in an unbiased manner is almost certainly compromised….It should thus be clear that the removal of Mr. Christenson from the Advisory Board reclaims the liberties promised to students and faculty without infringing upon the rights of any other member of the St. Olaf community.” Carleton SJP (the chapter at nearby Carleton College) further shared this petition, stating, “Arne Christenson is a key member of the Apartheid lobby and an outspoken Christian Zionist. He ought to have no position at any institute for “freedom” or “community” and certainly no position at St. Olaf.”
(TARGETING JEWISH STUDENTS AND STAFF: DENIGRATION; DISCRIMINATION)

May 10, 2017 – UC IRVINE – 
An SSI event with Israeli reservists was disrupted by about 40 protesters. According to video footage, after a verbal confrontation between protesters and presenters, a protester denigrated a participant of the event who had started to cry, by screaming multiple times, “You don’t deserve to cry!” before the rest of the protesters started breaking out into loud, sustained chants that included, “Israel, Israel you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide,” “Israel, Israel what do you say? How many people have you killed today?” “Hey hey, ho ho, these colonizers have got to go” “When people are occupied, resistance is justified” and “When people are occupied, disruptions are justified.” The leader of the chants then said, “You people who are colonizers and occupiers, you should not be allowed on this f*cking campus….F*ck you!” Chanting and protesting then continued outside in the hall, blocking the main exit with chants of “No justice, no peace,” “They think it’s a game, they think it’s a joke” “F*ck the police,” “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free,” and “Intifada, Intifada, long live the Intifada,” among other chants. The Israeli reservists and the audience that came to hear them were escorted out by campus police.
(TARGETING JEWISH STUDENTS AND STAFF: SUPPRESSION OF SPEECH/MOVEMENT/ASSEMBLY; DENIGRATION; DISCRIMINATION; CONDONING TERRORISM; DEMONIZATION; DELEGITIMIZATION)

May 7, 2017 – GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY – 
Antisemitic graffiti that included a death threat was found in a restroom adjacent to the Makom Jewish Gathering Space. 
 (TARGETING JEWISH STUDENTS AND STAFF: GENOCIDAL EXPRESSION; HISTORICAL)

May 2, 2017 – STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY – 
SJP published a statement condemning Stony Brook University MSA for collaborating with “Zionist Hillel” on an event to benefit Syrian refugees, saying, “The MSA could have done a Syria fundraiser by themselves, but still with our club informing them, decided to work with the Zionist group.” The statement continues, “We believe that Zionism should not be on campus…Zionism is a racist nationalistic ideology which has led to genocide, ethnic cleansing, military aggression, apartheid etc. MSA has shown that they do not believe in boycotting or divesting from Zionism.” The statement pulls various quotes from SJP members in New York, with one saying, “As an active Muslim member of MSA at CUNY, I believe it is our duty as Muslims to condemn any forms of collaboration with Zionist organizations. These associations brainwash us into thinking that the discrimination and ethnic cleansing of an indigenous population is justified”. 
(TARGETING JEWISH STUDENTS AND STAFF: DISCRIMINATION; DENYING JEWS SELF-DETERMINATION; DEMONIZATION; DELEGITIMIZATION; BDS ACTIVITY (CALLS FOR BDS))


A demonizing protest disruption of a Hillel Israeli Independence Day event at Cornell University on May 1, 2017. Source Credit: Cornell Sun
May 1, 2017 – CORNELL UNIVERSITY – 
About 20 SJP members disrupted a Hillel-sponsored event for Israeli Independence Day with a “die-in” and a large banner that read, “Celebrating 69 Years of Genocide” as well as handing out fliers claiming, “…the modern day Jewish state was founded on the expulsion of the indigenous population.” Protesters gained access to the event only after promising police and organizers that they would not disrupt the event. 
(TARGETING JEWISH STUDENTS AND STAFF: SUPPRESSION OF SPEECH/MOVEMENT/ASSEMBLY; DEMONIZATION)

May 1, 2017 – GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY – 
A divestment resolution was discussed and voted on. The resolution failed 15-14-1. 
(BDS ACTIVITY: BDS VOTE)


Six parked cars across the street from the Hillel Center at the University of Denver were found with swastikas and KKK scratched into them on May 1, 2017. Source Credit: The Denver Channel
May 1, 2017 – UNIVERSITY OF DENVER – 
Six parked cars had swastikas and “KKK” scratched into them. The cars were all parked across the street from the Merage & Allon Hillel Center at the University of Denver. 
(TARGETING JEWISH STUDENTS AND STAFF: DESTRUCTION OF JEWISH PROPERTY; GENOCIDAL EXPRESSION; HISTORICAL)

 
See all entries HERE with nearly 1,500 antisemitic incidents recorded from 2015 to present.

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