Recent news that organized groups of students at the University of California, San Diego have criticized the nation of Israel and called upon the university to divest itself of economic ties to corporations and groups that do business with the Jewish state is proof positive that the culture of intolerance exposed several months ago, then against African-Americans, has far from abated.
If UCSD is to repair its damaged reputation and be considered a campus that respects the humanity, dignity and rights of all people, UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox will refuse to overlook bigotry of any kind and will speak out forcefully against this reckless display of anti-Semitism at her school.
A proposed resolution condemning Israel for “war crimes” is a shameful, blatant expression of anti-Jewish rhetoric disguised as some kind of virtuous belief in human rights. It ignores the fact that Israel fights for survival, surrounded by neighboring governments, many controlled by radical Islamic groups, that will be satisfied with nothing less than the complete destruction of the democratic state.
If this resolution were truly an attempt to draw attention to all nations accused of committing human rights violations, then surely other countries would be named. China, for one, with its horrendous record of human rights abuses and patent disregard for personal freedom, should top the list. But no, only Israel is targeted, indicating a transparent ulterior agenda.
While free speech rights must be vigorously protected, words that inspire hate and intolerance must be countered by respected, intelligent people who out of a sense of duty are morally obligated to object.
The vote on the resolution, as of this writing, has been postponed, according to UCSD’s student newspaper The Guardian , but for many students not out of any sense of regret over the language. There are simply some political hurdles to be overcome before this racism, couched in “diplomatic” terms, can resurface, perhaps as soon as next week.
There are far too many students who fully support this discriminatory language and are stymied not by sudden pangs of conscience – nor, so far, by top UCSD officials and community leaders whose silence on this issue is deafening – but only by resistance from a handful of other students and responsible educators willing to step up and argue on the side of reason.
Are Jewish students at UCSD to feel as equally unwelcome and unsafe as African-American students have been made to feel?
The public looks forward to – nay, demands – vigorous statements of denunciation from Fox and others who must be pro-active against this sort of intolerant climate that continues to percolate on campus. Else, all that was promised several months ago – remember Fox’s “Done. Done. Done” when asked to take strong action against anti-black sentiment during the “Compton cookout” fiasco? – will be a sham.
Marsha Sutton is SDNN’s education editor and can be reached at: SuttComm@san.rr.com .