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Contact: Nicole Rosen

Santa Cruz, CA, Jan 11, 2024 – A new study released today by campus antisemitism watchdog group AMCHA Initiative provides extensive evidence that faculty in the academic department considered ground zero for the highly politicized, “critical” version of the ethnic studies discipline at the University of California and for efforts to push the discipline into K-12 classrooms are using their department’s name and University resources to promote propaganda and activism to undermine and ultimately dismantle the Jewish state – in violation of University policy and California law.

According to the new research, the University of California Santa Cruz’s Critical Race and Ethnic Studies (CRES) department has engaged in anti-Zionist advocacy and activism since at least May 2021, when CRES pledged departmental allegiance to “the struggle for Palestinian liberation” and committed its faculty to bringing the academic boycott of Israel (the academic arm of the antisemitic BDS movement) onto campus and into their classrooms. However, according to the study, incidents involving CRES’s anti-Zionist political advocacy and activism have drastically increased in frequency and intensity since Hamas’ massacre of Israeli civilians on October 7, 2023.

Some of the newer incidents include: blaming Israel for the Hamas massacre and calling Israel’s defensive measures a “genocide”; incorporating anti-Zionist propaganda, including clear falsehoods, into their teaching and teacher training programs; shutting down their department as part of a “Global General Strike” against Israel and calling for students to boycott their classes; and promoting and participating in the “Shut It Down for Palestine” protest rally of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) that illegally blocked access to the campus. Even after a clear warning from the UCSC Provost highlighting UC policies proscribing political advocacy and activism “in the classroom and other instructional spaces,” CRES faculty doubled-down on their political activities, recently announcing on their university website the launch of Faculty for Justice in Palestine (FJP), a group designed to serve as the faculty-arm of SJP.

“CRES’s commitment to anti-Zionist political advocacy and activism, as a department and as a core element of its discipline, can’t help but corrupt the academic mission of the university and violate students’ fundamental right to be educated and not indoctrinated,” said Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, co-founder and director of AMCHA Initiative and a former UC Santa Cruz faculty member herself. But for Rossman-Benjamin, the most alarming consequence of CRES’s substitution of anti-Zionist activism for education is its harmful impact on Jewish students: “Our research has consistently shown that on campuses where individual faculty and departments use educational spaces for anti-Zionist political advocacy and activism, rates of antisemitic activity – including assaults, threats of harm, vandalism, and bullying – are significantly elevated. Against the backdrop of a more than 700% increase in campus antisemitism since Hamas’ horrific massacre of Israeli civilians on October 7th, CRES’s unbridled expression of animus towards the Jewish state and its supporters absolutely contributes to a hostile, antisemitic environment for Jewish students, faculty and staff at UCSC.”

The report also notes that CRES plays an important role in bringing the department’s highly politicized version of ethnic studies to K-12 classrooms in the state. Last year CRES became the first UCSC department outside the STEM fields to include an expedited pathway for students to earn a post-BA teaching credential. In addition, CRES leadership is behind a proposal for establishing a UC ethnic studies admissions requirement, which, if approved, would force almost every high school student in the state to take an ethnic studies course whose content standards were developed, in large part, by CRES faculty.

“Shockingly, these same professors who are using their university positions and resources to unabashedly promote anti-Zionism and antisemitism,” says Rossman-Benjamin, “are the ones who our state has entrusted with developing what will be taught to every California student about Jews and Israel.”

According to the report, CRES’s anti-Zionist advocacy and activism are likely in violation of several UC policies and state laws that prohibit the use of the name, facilities and resources of the University for political advocacy or indoctrination, and others that sanction the failure of individual faculty members and academic departments to fulfill their contractual and fiduciary responsibilities. The report concludes that there is more than enough evidence of departmental misconduct to warrant a thorough investigation of CRES by UC and state officials.


AMCHA Initiative is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to combating antisemitism at colleges and universities in the United States. The organization monitors more than 600 campuses for antisemitic activity, as defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and the U.S. government. AMCHA is not a pro-Israel advocacy organization, nor does it take a position on current or past Israeli government policies; criticism of Israel that does not meet the IHRA and U.S. government criteria is not considered antisemitic by the organization. AMCHA has recorded more than 6,000 antisemitic incidents on college campuses since 2015 which can be accessed through its Antisemitism Tracker.

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