The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) calls on Dr. Michael Drake, the Chancellor of the University of California, Irvine (UCI), to finally end his silence and publicly condemn the anti-Semitism that routinely occurs on his campus, as well as the group that is promoting it. Every year at this time, the Muslim Student Union (MSU), a registered student group at UCI, sponsors a week-long event on campus that vilifies and demonizes Israel, with speakers and programs that cross the line into anti-Semitism. This years event, which begins today, will span two full weeks and has the disgraceful and grotesquely false title, Israel: The Politics of Genocide. Based on the title of the event, the speakers that will be featured, and the programs that are scheduled to occur, there is no doubt that the MSU will once again be promoting vicious falsehoods about Israel that will promote hatred of Israel and Jews, as well as violence against them.
Despite the fact that the MSU has sponsored vicious Israel-bashing events on a regular basis at UCI which have crossed the line into anti-Semitism, and despite the fact these events violate UCIs own Principles of Community, Chancellor Drake has never once condemned the events as anti-Semitic, or denounced the MSU for perpetrating bigotry. In the past, the Chancellor has justified his silence by relying on the First Amendment and his need to remain so-called content neutral. Would the Chancellor dare to remain silent and content neutral if programs vilifying gays, African Americans, Hispanics, or women were sponsored on his campus?
The Chancellor has his own First Amendment rights and he should be exercising those rights to denounce speech that is hateful and anti-Semitic. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, an independent bipartisan federal agency that studies discrimination and civil rights issues and reports its findings and recommendations to the President and Congress, has specifically recommended that university leadership condemn anti-Semitic and other hate speech. This is also the position of the American Association of University Professors and the American Civil Liberties Union. Last year, when the MSU was holding its Israel-bashing event, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) wrote to the Chancellor to express his concern. The Congressman could not have been clearer in his call to the Chancellor: As an American, you have a right to speak out. As Chancellor, it is your duty to condemn anti-Semitism, especially when it occurs at the UCI campus.
But the Chancellor has maintained his silence, going so far as to deny that anti-Semitism is even a problem at UCI. When asked in May 2007, by the local Daily Pilot, whether he believed that there is intolerance on the campus, he had the temerity to say: I dont think it is a problem at all. I have no evidence that its different or worse than anyplace else. In fact, I think we have a very tolerant community.
Morton A. Klein, the ZOAs National President, and Susan B. Tuchman, Esq., the director of the ZOAs Center for Law and Justice, called on the Chancellor to exercise his moral leadership: Its time for the Chancellor to finally speak honestly and directly about a problem that has been plaguing his campus for years. The MSU brings hateful anti-Israel speakers and programs to campus year after year, causing many Jewish students to feel harassed, intimidated and even physically unsafe to the point that a few years ago, at least two students left UCI and enrolled elsewhere to complete their studies. The public should be told who is funding these programs.
The Chancellors failure to recognize that anti-Semitic bigotry is being promoted on campus, and his failure to condemn those who are behind it, sends the wrong message to the victims and the perpetrators: That anti-Semitism is tolerable and acceptable, when it is not. He would never dare to ignore campus programs that demonized or promoted hateful lies about gays, African Americans, Hispanics or women.
It was UCIs failure to address the longstanding problem of campus anti-Semitism that led the ZOA to file a student-supported complaint against the university with the U.S. Education Departments Office for Civil Rights under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. UCI bears the shameful distinction of being the only university in the country, to our knowledge, that has been under federal investigation for failing to respond to claims of anti-Semitic harassment under Title VI. A second investigation into UCIs response to campus anti-Semitism is still pending. Its time for the Chancellor to acknowledge the problem and make it crystal clear that he and his administration will no longer tolerate it.
There is an online petition calling on the Chancellor to speak out against the anti-Semitism at UCI. (Go to http://www.PetitionOnline.com/msu509/petition.html). We urge concerned individuals to sign it, as hundreds already have, and let the Chancellor know that his silence is wrong, and that anti-Semitism has no place on a college campus or anyplace else.