The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), together with 11 other groups, joined in a letter to University of California President Mark Yudof, urging him to explicitly focus on anti-Semitism, a problem that has plagued many University of California campuses for many years. (To read the letter, dated June 28, 2010, click here.)
The letter, signed by the ZOA and others, urges President Yudof to take several specific steps, which include issuing a written statement to the entire University of California community that (1) condemns all forms of anti-Semitism at the University of California (UC), including the demonization and delegitimization of the State of Israel; (2) acknowledges that anti-Semitism has been a problem on the UC campuses and has caused Jewish students to feel harassed and intimidated; and (3) commits the UC administration to addressing the problem. The letter also calls on each UC Chancellor to issue a similar written statement to his/her campus community, and to publicly condemn, by name, speakers who demonize Jews and Israel, and to denounce, by name, those student groups that promote this vicious hatred.
Included in the letter to President Yudof are the results of an on-line petition, protesting the anti-Semitism and Israel-bashing that Jewish students have been subjected to for many years on many UC campuses. Signed by more than 700 students, the petition states: Please understand that these [anti-Jewish and anti-Israel] speakers, exhibits, events and campaigns are as offensive and hurtful to Jewish students as . . . [the] Compton cookout [an off-campus event organized by UC San Diego students, whose invitation employed offensive racial stereotypes] or noose are to African-American students. We demand that the UC administrators recognize and address the concerns of Jewish students in the same way as they respond to those of all other minority groups.
The letter that the ZOA and others signed also refers to the results of an on-line questionnaire that Jewish UC students responded to. More than two-thirds of the respondents felt that anti-Israel events and campaigns promoted hatred of Jews and Israel. Respondents also expressed concern that such hatred might lead to violence against Jewish students on their campus. Almost all of the students who responded to the questionnaire felt that their administrators do not treat Jewish concerns as sensitively as they treat those of other minorities, such as African Americans, Hispanics and homosexuals.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, This letter calling on President Yudof to focus specifically on the longstanding anti-Semitism and Israel-bashing on UC campuses is just part of the ZOAs years-long commitment to ensuring that Jewish students can get their college education in an environment that is free from anti-Semitic bigotry, harassment and intimidation. The students who responded to the on-line questionnaire correctly recognized that the expression of hatred toward Jews can lead to actual physical violence against Jews. As noted historian Paul Johnson wrote in A History of the Jews, One of the principal lessons of Jewish history has been that repeated verbal slanders are sooner or later followed by violent physical deeds. Time and again over the centuries, anti-Semitic writings created their own fearful momentum which climaxed in an effusion of Jewish blood.
President Yudof and the UC Chancellors must respond to the ongoing anti-Semitism on UC campuses in a forceful and focused way. They must acknowledge that anti-Semitism in its many forms is a serious problem on UC campuses. They must also acknowledge that the anti-Semitism and Israel-bashing harm Jewish students and violate the values of tolerance and community that underpin the UC system. And they must commit themselves to exposing and eradicating all anti-Semitic bigotry from every UC campus.