Courageous University of California Student Speaks About Continuing Campus Anti-Semitism

Anti-Semitism at Cal

By  Special to the Daily Cal

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

When a recent report from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, dismissed claims that the university had failed to protect Jewish students from anti-Semitism on campus, many thought that it could create a watershed moment for Berkeley.  Leading the fray was The Daily Californian, which made the almost Panglossian prediction that the report “could mark a new era for the campus community.”

Though I wish that the Daily Cal’s conclusion was correct, the fact is that the OCR’s conclusions are limited only to the legal matter of the university’s liability with regards to the civil rights of minority students. Although the OCR acknowledged the occurrence of hostile acts directed against Jews, they concluded that because there is no law compelling the university to prevent students from being personally offended or hurt, the university made no legal infractions. Indeed, for the OCR to have taken action, they would need evidence that the university had failed to stop direct coordinated actions against Jews.  Given that the issues faced by Jewish students come from a widespread general bias across the entire student body and not from a single organization, the OCR would never find Berkeley to be legally liable, no matter the degree of hostility faced by Jewish students.

However, as any Cal student or alum could likely confirm, Berkeley has chosen to commit itself to principles beyond the law. The university’s well-known dedication to protecting student rights and concern with matters of justice is at the very core of our identity.  These values, even if not made explicit in federal law, explicitly bar the actions that led to the legal complaint filed with the OCR. The report may legally exonerate Cal, but it does not excuse the university, faculty and students from the grave moral failing of our community in dealing with the baseless hatred in our midst.

It is an incontrovertible fact that over the past several years, Jewish students at Berkeley have had to deal with numerous hate incidents, including verbal, written and physical assaults.  Jewish students have been called horrendous, unprintable things. They have been shoved and pushed. In campus housing, the past several years have seen repeated occurrences of swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti. Continue reading

The University of Manitoba Student Union (UMSU) bans anti-Israel “Israel Apartheid Week” and strips anti-Israel group of official status.

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Canadian university student union strips anti-Israel group of official status
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Posted on April 15, 2013  by JNS.org.

(JNS.org) The University of Manitoba Student Union (UMSU) in Canada has become the first student group in North America to ban the anti-Israel “Israel Apartheid Week” and strip the anti-Israel “Students Against Israel Apartheid (SAIA)” group of official status.

The motion, which passed 19-15, bars SAIA from receiving student funding or using student activity space on campus, the Winnipeg Jewish Review reported.

Pro-Israel students argued that the anti-Israel student efforts violate university policy which protects the “dignity and self-esteem” of its students and prevents them from “discrimination or harassment.”

“According to the UMSU policy, I didn’t have to prove that IAW has actually incited hatred, but that it is likely to undermine the dignity or self- esteem of students on campus who are Zionists,” pro-Israel UM student activist Josh Morry told the Winnipeg Jewish Review.

The move at the University of Manitoba comes amid recent battles on North American college campuses between pro-Israel and anti-Israel students.

Last week, the student government at the University of California (UC), Santa Barbara rejected a resolution to divest from Israel, joining several other California schools—UC Riverside, UC Berkeley and Stanford University—who have rejected Israel divestment resolutions. But the student union at Toronto’s York University, Canada’s largest, recently endorsed an Israel divestment resolution.

http://www.jns.org/news-briefs/2013/4/15/canadian-university-student-union-anti-israel-group-of-official-status

Is the American Jewish Committee finally getting it right on campus anti-Semitism?

With any luck, the AJC’s reversal may facilitate a unified  Jewish communal response to the resurgence of anti-Semitic incidents that have  been seen around the country, and especially in California, over the past  decade…”

AJC Gets It Right on Campus Anti-Semitism, At Last

David Harris Stood Behind Moves to Protect Jewish Students
By Kenneth L. Marcus

Published August 23, 2011, issue of September  02, 2011.  Jewish Daily Forward

In early August, the American Jewish Committee’s executive director, David  Harris, finally renounced his organization’s highly controversial joint  statement on campus anti-Semitism.

The initial statement, which AJC anti-Semitism expert Kenneth Stern had  published four months before, with Cary Nelson, president of the American  Association of University Professors, had generated considerable criticism  within the Jewish community. Interestingly, the AJC reversal coincided with  disturbing revelations in the University of California, Berkeley campus  anti-Semitism case.

The context for the AJC statement can be found in California. Jessica Felber  had gotten national attention earlier this year when she filed a federal lawsuit  alleging an anti-Semitic attack at the University of California’s flagship  Berkeley campus. In her federal complaint, the recent graduate detailed how a  Palestinian activist assaulted her on campus by ramming her from behind with a  loaded shopping cart. In mid-August, Felber revealed to the court that this  assault was part of an ugly pattern on that campus.  In another incident, a campus protester stopped a lecture to berate Felber for  the Hebrew lettering on her sweatshirt, yelling that she must be a “terrorist  supporter.” In a third, the head of Berkeley’s Students for Justice in Palestine  allegedly spat at her.

Felber is not alone; a second Berkeley student, Brian Maissy, has now joined  her lawsuit.  Maissy submitted a declaration describing the “terrifying” atmosphere on the Berkeley campus during “Apartheid Week,” when protesters  toting realistic-looking guns taunt passing students, demanding to know, “Are  you Jewish?”  Even more disturbing, Mel Gordon, a senior member of the Berkeley  faculty, is now supporting Felber’s lawsuit with written testimony that he had  been, “savagely beaten and spat upon” by the Students for Justice in Palestine.  Gordon described “serious injuries” that he received from blows to the  stomach. Continue reading

Dear University of California President Yudof: Thanks for nothing!

We wish to thank the author for sending a copy of the following article to the Orange County Independent Task Force on Anti-Semitism:

Jewish University Presidents Who Abandon Jews 

By Stella Paul

Since we live in a craven age, let’s salute our few heroes.  Meet Jessica Felber, a 21-year-old Lioness of Judah, who’s suing the University of California for failing to protect her civil rights.

Felber is a student activist at Berkeley who simply asserts her right to stand on campus and hold a sign saying, “Israel Wants Peace,” without subsequently needing urgent medical attention.  What Jew can count on that right on a UC campus these days?

In March 2010, Felber was violently assaulted by Husam Zakharia, the leader of Students for Justice in Palestine, as she peacefully held her sign at a pro-Israel event.  UC authorities “were fully aware that Zakharia, the SJP and similar student groups had been involved in other incidents on campus to incite violence against and intimidate Jewish and other students,” says her renowned lawyer, Neal Sher.  Nevertheless, “[d]efendants took no reasonable steps to protect Ms. Felber and others.”

Felber names UC President Mark Yudof in her lawsuit and therein lies a tale.  Continue reading

Sign the Petition to UC President Mark Yudof

Dear Task Force friends,

As a follow-up to last  year’s letter to UC President Mark Yudof, which 12 organizations  — including  your own — signed, my colleague Dr. Leila Beckwith and I have recently posted  another on-line letterto President Yudof, urging him to forcefully and  promptly address the problem of the harassment and intimidation of Jewish students on UC campuses.  We are hoping that thousands of Jewish community members will join us in signing this follow-up letter.

Could you please forward the following to your email subscribers?

Many thanks,
Tammi

Dear Jewish Community of California,

Bigotry against Jewish students has occurred on University of California campuses over many years and on many campuses.  Jewish students have been subjected to: swastikas; acts of physical aggression; speakers, films and exhibits that use anti-Semitic imagery and discourse; speakers that praise and encourage support for terrorist organizations; the organized disruption of events sponsored by Jewish student groups; and most recently the promotion of student senate resolutions for divestment from Israel that seek to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish State.

Last May, more than 700 Jewish UC students signed a petition expressing outrage at anti-Jewish rhetoric and imagery on their campuses.  They asserted that these incidents are as offensive and hurtful to Jewish students as a “Compton cookout” or a noose are to African American students. In addition, dozens of Jewish students from three different UC campuses, who responded to an on-line questionnaire, described feeling harassed and intimidated by the promotion of hatred against the Jewish State and of Jews.  Almost all of the students felt that the administrators on their campuses did not treat Jewish concerns as sensitively as they did the concerns of other minorities such as African Americans and Latinos.

In June 2010, leaders of 12 Jewish organizations, including the Orthodox Union and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, wrote to UC President Mark Yudof, expressing their concerns about the hostile environment faced by Jewish students on UC campuses, and calling on him to address this serious problem immediately.  President Yudof responded by asking Jewish leaders to have patience and faith in the newly-established Advisory Councils on Campus Climate, Culture, and Inclusion. Over the last year, however, these Advisory Councils have failed to address, or even acknowledge, the problem of anti-Semitism on UC campuses.  In fact, the aims and actions of the Advisory Councils since their inception, as revealed by documents released under a  Freedom of Information request, show that Jewish students are not a focus at all. Continue reading

Is The University of California Revising its Policies in Wake of Berkeley Student’s Lawsuit?

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Student Affairs <studentaffairs@uci.edu>
Date: Tue, Mar 8, 2011 at 7:31 PM
Subject: Policies Applying to Campus Activities, Organizations, and Students
To: Multiple recipients of list <all-grad@nextday.oac.uci.edu>

Dear Student,

The University of California Office of the President has made two revisions to the Policies Applying to Campus Activities, Organizations, and Students to address student conduct matters.  The new policy language reads:

Section 102.24: Conduct, where the actor means to communicate a serious expression of intent to terrorize, or acts in reckless disregard of the risk of terrorizing, one or more University students, faculty, or staff.  ‘Terrorize’ means to cause a reasonable person to fear bodily harm or death, perpetrated by the actor or those acting under his/her control. ‘Reckless disregard’ means consciously disregarding a substantial risk.  This section applies without regard to whether the conduct is motivated by race, ethnicity, personal animosity, or other reasons.  This section does not apply to conduct that constitutes the lawful defense of oneself, of another, or of property. Continue reading

Divestment and campus anti-Semitism

Excerpt: “…the resolution at Berkeley singled out Israel, while ignoring all human rights violations in counties like Iran, Russia, Sudan, China and Rwanda, all among the most egregious violators of human rights on the planet, some of them sites of mass slaughters. If singling out the Jewish state for special condemnation when its actions don’t even belong in the same category as those others is not anti-Semitism, it’s hard to see what is.”

UC campuses are hotbeds of anti-Semite vitriol

By thomas d. elias

San Jose Mercury News

Posted: 07/13/2010 11:00:00 PM PDT

Updated: 07/13/2010 11:26:29 PM PDT

You’d think tempers on University of California campuses last spring were hotter about the upcoming tuition increases than anything else. You’d be wrong. Continue reading

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