Urge UC President Napolitano and the UC Regents to Include State Department Definition of Antisemitism in UC Statement Against Intolerance
In a change of strategy, the UC Regents will now be discussing the adoption of a “statement of principles” against various forms of intolerance, including antisemitism, at their September meeting. On the one hand this is a positive step. Thanks to all of your letters, emails, op-eds and letters to the editor, UC is finally paying attention to the threat faced by Jewish students. UC is finally beginning to acknowledge that it must condemn antisemitic bigotry with the same promptness and vigor as other bigotries such as racism, sexism and homophobia.
However, before the Regents can properly condemn the antisemitic behavior that has created a hostile environment for many Jewish students, they will need to accurately understand it. It is therefore essential for the Regents to include in their statement of principles reference to the full U.S. State Department definition, which recognizes activity that demonizes and delegitimizes Israel and denies its right to exist as antisemitism.
TAKE ACTION: Please thank UC President Napolitano and the Board of Regents (President@ucop.edu, RegentsOffice@ucop.edu) for drafting a statement that condemns all forms of intolerance, including antisemitism, and explain that it is imperative for the Regents to reference in their statement the full State Department definition, in order to correctly identify and address the serious and growing problem of antisemitism on UC campuses. Anything short of the full State Department definition and the acknowledgement that anti-Israel expression may cross the line into outright antisemitism, fails to address the problem.
Helpful background information for your letters:
The frightening rise of antisemitism at UC is well-documented, and the current obsession with Israel is a major part of it. Fierce and often ugly anti-Israel campaigns have led directly to increased discrimination and anti-Jewish bigotry. Jewish students are suffering.
Criticism of Israel is not antisemitism. Scholarly debate about Israel is not antisemitism. But when Israel is demonized and delegitimized in order to deny its right to exist, that is unquestionably antisemitism.
Pope Francis and President Obama understand this. Both have said that denying Israel’s right to exist is antisemitic.
Sixty-one well-established Jewish communal organizations including the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, Hadassah, International Hillel, Jewish Federations of North America, all three major Jewish denominations (Orthodox Union, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, and Union for Reform Judaism) as well as both the Republican Jewish Committee and the National Jewish Democratic Council all affirmed in a statement in 2011 that “[c]riticism becomes anti-Semitism…when it demonizes Israel or its leaders, denies Israel the right to defend its citizens or seeks to denigrate Israel’s right to exist.”
The State Department’s definition accurately identifies this form of antisemitism as one of multiple expressions of anti-Jewish bigotry. Adopting the definition as a standard across all 10 UC campuses will help educate students and faculty about antisemitism in all of its contemporary forms.
There is overwhelming support for UC’s adoption of the State Department definition:
- 32 additional Jewish and advocacy organizations including the Simon Wiesenthal Center, StandWithUs, Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity (AEPi), American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, Iranian American Jewish Federation, National Conference on Jewish Affairs, and Zionist Organization of America;
- 3 UC student governments — UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UC Santa Barbara —who all unanimously approved resolutions adopting the U.S. State Department definition of antisemitism;
- 17 UC student organizations, including Hillel and Chabad;
- the Anti-Defamation League;
- Congressman Brad Sherman;
- 58 California rabbis; and
- thousands of UC students, faculty, alumni and community members.
Contrary to false claims by detractors, there is nothing unconstitutional about adopting a definition in order to identify and educate the campus community about antisemitic bigotry. The UC Regents themselves have a constitutionally protected right to adopt principled viewpoints on matters of important social concern such as this.
Anything short of the full State Department definition and the acknowledgement that anti-Israel expression may cross the line into outright antisemitism, fails to address the problem.
Sign the Petition
Alongside writing to UC President Napolitano and the Regents, PLEASE SIGN and SHARE the important UC Stakeholder petition if you haven’t already. All stakeholders can sign, including alumni, donors, students, parents and California taxpayers.
UC Riverside Update
Many of you received a disappointing email from the University of California stating that the administration does not believe the blatantly biased UC Riverside course, “Palestine & Israel: Settler-Colonialism and Apartheid,” taught by the leader of UCR’s Students for Justice in Palestine, violated UC policy against political indoctrination. We want to assure you that we are preparing a response to the administration, and we will keep you posted on new developments regarding this campaign in the near future.
ARTICLES ABOUT OUR EFFORTS:
J Weekly – 7/16/15 –
New website collects anti-Semitism quotes from U.C. schools, other campuses
Daily Bruin – 7/16/15 –
California Senate approves resolution condemning anti-Semitism
LA Times – 7/16/15-
Legislature urges UC campuses to condemn anti-Semitism
Jewish Journal – 7/13/15 –
Who should define anti-Semitism?
Daily News – 6/26/15 –
How anti-Zionism has turned into anti-Semitism on UC campuses