After numerous instances of anti-Semitism on University of California campuses, the UC Board of Regents formally adopted a statement condemning such behavior. This is the first public statement of its kind, which resulted in large part due to numerous instances of students committing acts of antisemitism on campus, often under the guise of anti-Zionism and the BDS movement.
The Board of Regents also published a report urging university administrators to condemn anti-Semitism immediately after students bring such instances to light. They went on to add that denying Israel’s right to exist as an independent Jewish state falls under the same category and should be addressed.
As would be expected, the report came with some criticism. Those who are opposed claim the statement will interfere with free speech and student life. Another issue people found was that it specified anti-Semitism alone and didn’t address Islamophobia.
However, according to a recent study, Jewish students are three times more likely to experience an anti-Semitic attack or violent rhetoric than any other group. There is a strong need to tackle this head on. No Jewish student, regardless of their relationship to Israel, political viewpoints, or religious affiliation should undergo this kind of abhorrent treatment.
“For far too long, Jewish students have become victims in the often profoundly contentious anti-Zionist movement on campus,” stated Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, who is a Hebrew lecturer at UC Santa Cruz who was involved in leading the campaign. The 10 -paragraph declaration differentiates between healthy intellectual debates and acts of hatred that campus leaders have been trying to oppose.
The UC administration saw a problem come up time and again, and the Board of Regents finally took a formal approach to combatting it. This move will not compromise freedom of expression, rather it will promote it. Prior to this ruling, Jewish students felt threatened to voice their positions regarding the Middle East, but even more disturbingly, their Jewish roots in general. A toxic feeling of intolerance was strongly felt by students prior to this decision. Hopefully this is the first step to dissipating the dangerous environment felt by some students at University of California campuses.
I thank the University of California Board of Regents for condemning anti-Semitism and working to combat this ever prevalent threat.
Contributed by Bar-Ilan University CAMERA intern, Jasmine Esulin.