The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) strongly praises University of California (UC) President Janet Napolitano, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and former Governor of Arizona, for personally agreeing with the U.S. Department of State’s definition of anti-Semitism, and for agreeing that the UC Regents should adopt the definition. The State Department recognizes that denying Israel’s right to exist, demonizing Israel (by, for example, comparing Israeli policy to that of the Nazis), and applying double standards to Israel (by requiring of the Jewish State a behavior not demanded of any other country), is anti-Semitic.
The ZOA and 22 other organizations sent a letter, spearheaded by the AMCHA Initiative, to President Napolitano last March, expressing concern about anti-Semitism on the UC campuses, and urging the UC to adopt the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism. In addition, the ZOA has on several occasions addressed the Regents at their meetings, urging that the Regents adopt the State Department definition of anti-Semitism and strongly address all forms of anti-Semitism at the UC schools.
Morton A. Klein, ZOA National President, and Susan B. Tuchman, Esq., Director of the ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, praised UC President Janet Napolitano for her endorsement of the State Department definition of anti-Semitism: “By recognizing that anti-Semitism can be expressed as illegitimate, vicious anti-Israel and anti-Zionist sentiment – which is primarily the kind of anti-Semitism that is being expressed on our college campuses today – President Napolitano has taken an important step in protecting Jewish and pro-Israel students at the UC schools.
“College campuses should, of course, be places for vigorous debate, including about Israel and the Arab war against Israel. But when students and student groups falsely, unfairly and regularly demonize Israel (for example, by referring to Israel as a Nazi or an apartheid state, and to Israelis as baby-killers), single out Israel – the only true human-rights-loving democracy in the Middle East – for condemnation and hold it to an impossible double standard (by, for example, promoting boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns against Israel), and call for Israel’s destruction, that is anti-Semitic bigotry masquerading as legitimate political discourse. The groups that are promoting this kind of anti-Semitism ignore the Nazi-like policies of the Palestinian Authority and Iran which call for the murder of Jews.
“Anti-Semitic bigotry expressed as anti-Israelism can create a hostile campus environment for Jewish students, causing them to feel like pariahs on their campuses, and sometimes even afraid for their physical safety. The notion that a group of students – whether Jewish, African American, women or gays – can be targeted, and made to feel unwelcome or at risk at their schools, should be intolerable to all of us.
“Colleges and universities are appropriately cracking down hard when bigotry is directed against African Americans, women and gays on campus. Bigotry directed against Jews must be taken just as seriously and responded to with the same force. We thank President Napolitano for her leadership and urge the UC Regents to adopt the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism at its next meeting in July. A formal adoption of that definition will provide clearer guidelines for students, faculty and administrators to identify anti-Semitism on the UC campuses, which is a critical step to fixing the problem.”