05 Dec, 2020
JERUSALEM WEATHER

As the University of California (UC) continues to grapple with how to address the recent rise of anti-Semitism on campus, AMCHA Initiative on Tuesday unveiled a website that chronicles the personal accounts of Jewish students’ experiences of anti-Semitism at UC.

Many students reported not being able to attend the UC Regents working group public forum on this issue in October but wanted a way to have input into the Statement Against Intolerance being developed by the Regents. More than 70 students have already submitted testimonials.

A complete list of student quotes to date can be viewed here. More are being added regularly.

The website will remain open to students who would like to share experiences. To submit a testimonial, click here.

Here are a few entries:

“I’m in a Jewish interest sorority and during divestment we’re encouraged not to wear letters because a few times people have come up to sisters during divestment and have started heckling them about BDS stuff. I try and stay away from anything having to do with BDS as much as possible because it makes me uncomfortable. In fact, during BDS I actually avoid Hillel, the quad, and even my sorority because I just really don’t want to have to deal with how unsafe campus feels during that time. Everyone in my entire Jewish sphere is stressed and anxious and I have never experienced that level of discomfort in my community until coming to UC Davis.” (UCD)

“I have been called an ‘Israeli terrorist’ and ‘Dirty Jew’ many times. I have seen students posting pro-Nazi things, and saying that all Israelis deserve to die on social media amongst a few other things.” (UCD)

[ubm_premium banners=95 count=1]

“Students questioning whether or not Jews can be true Americans if they support Israel (i.e dual loyalty accusations). Numerous people question how Jews can support social justice if they support Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. On a campus as liberal as mine, if you don’t support social justice any hateful act directed towards you is perfectly acceptable.” (UCB)

UC has experienced many incidents of anti-Jewish discrimination of late. In the last month since school resumed, swastikas and “F*** Jews” were carved into two cars and tires were slashed on multiple vehicles at UC Davis and a female Jewish student at UC San Diego was followed and harassed by a male SJP student who yelled “racist Zionist cow” at her. Last year, swastikas were spray-painted on a Jewish fraternity after fraternity brothers spoke against divesting from Israel, “grout out the Jews” and “Hitler did nothing wrong” was carved into school property after contentious BDS campaigns, a Hillel event for the LGBT community was protested and disrupted by anti-Israel students and faculty, flyers blaming Israel AND all Jews for 9/11 were plastered on campus and a Jewish student running for office was questioned about her eligibility by anti-Israel activists simply because of her religion. UC Jewish students report feeling afraid to tell fellow students they are Jewish, walk to the Hillel house for Sabbath dinner and wear a Jewish star necklace. Many report being bullied, harassed, intimidated and assaulted.

“We applaud the Regents for holding a public forum to hear directly from those on the frontlines, but logistics can make that difficult for students. They can’t easily take the day off from classes or have the transportation to get across the state” said Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, AMCHA co-founder and director. “We wanted to give them a virtual hearing, an online platform, to communicate with decision-makers.”

“While those opposed to adopting the State Department definition of anti-Semitism at UC claim students cry anti-Semitism when it’s only criticism of Israel, these testimonials demonstrate unequivocally that all Jewish students are targeted, regardless of their feelings on Israel, and that anti-Israel and BDS campaigns have gone far beyond scholarly debate and criticism directly into hate and anti-Semitism,” stated Leila Beckwith, AMCHA co-founder and a UCLA emeritus professor.

In September, the Regents formed a working group to address the rise of anti-Semitism on campus and develop a statement against intolerance. More than 50 Jewish organizations, including ADL, AJC, Hillel, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and AMCHA and more than 3,000 UC students, faculty, alumni, California residents, rabbis, Jewish day school principals and educators, including the world’s preeminent scholars of anti-Semitism, have written to UC in support of adopting an accurate definition of modern anti-Semitism to properly identify and educate the campus community about contemporary Jew-hatred. Specifically, the groups have urged the inclusion of the State Department definition of anti-Semitism into the intolerance statement.

The US State Department definition recognizes that contemporary anti-Semitism has assumed various disguised forms and, as the US Commission on Civil Rights found, is often “camouflaged as anti-Israelism or anti-Zionism.” The State Department definition acknowledges a distinction between criticism of Israel’s policies and calls for the destruction of Israel which are anti-Semitic and breed additional anti-Semitism. Pope Francis, President Obama, British Prime Minister Cameron and French Prime Minister Valls have all stated, as is concluded in the State Department definition, that denying Israel’s right to exist is anti-Semitism.