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