Member of US Congress Brad Sherman writes letter to Chancellor Drake

May 26th 2008
 - Brad Sherman
Rep. Brad Sherman

In mid-May, I wrote a letter to Chancellor Michael Drake expressing my concern with the University of California at Irvine’s (UCI) Muslim Student Union’s campus event entitled “Never Again? The Palestinian Holocaust,” which was held on the campus from May 7th to May 15th. This event appears to have intended to encourage violence against the State of Israel and propagate the spread of anti-Semitism.

The title of the event itself is particularly inflammatory. Comparing current Israeli policies to the Holocaust, the systematic murder of the Jewish people of Europe, is clearly anti-Semitic. It wholly demeans the Jewish victims of the Holocaust and vilifies the Jewish citizens of Israel. The United States Department of State has officially declared that such a comparison is a prototypical example of anti-Semitism. In a recent report to Congress, the State Department adopted the following definition of anti-Semitism:

“Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities. Such manifestations of anti-Semitism could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity . . . . Contemporary examples of anti-Semitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to: Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.” [emphasis supplied] (Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism Report, Released by the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, U.S. Department of State, March 2008).

The titles of some of the lectures at the event — “Death to Apartheid: A Farewell to Zionism” and “Silence is Consent: Stop the Palestinian Holocaust” — are also disturbing. And, the guests invited to give these lectures have a record of making anti-Semitic statements. As is observable on YouTube, one of the lecturers, Amir Abdel Malik Ali, stated in a speech at UCI in May 2006, “The truth of the matter is: [Israel’s] days are numbered. We will fight you until we are either martyred or until we are victorious.” It should be of concern that a speech given at UCI calls for “martyrdom” – the euphemism for suicide bombing.

I grew up near UCI and I have even taken a course there. I recognize that it is an excellent educational institution with a history of intelligent, vigorous debate. While I strongly support the First Amendment rights of individuals to speak freely and without impediment at the UCI campus, I hope that readers share my belief that we all have a moral responsibility to denounce speech that is clearly and unambiguously hateful in nature.

As the leader of a public university, Chancellor Drake also has a duty to condemn anti-Semitism, especially when it occurs at the UCI campus. In my letter to the Chancellor, I asked him to publicly denounce this hate speech. I hope he does so.

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-California) represents California’s 27th District in the San Fernando Valley.

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