March 5, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Anti-Semitism Issue Again Confronts UC Regents:

Back in June, the president of the University of California promised on national radio that the UC Board of Regents would vote in its next meeting – in July – on whether to adopt the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism.

It didn’t happen. There was no vote, no discussion, not even an agenda item.

No regent, including Gov. Jerry Brown, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom or Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, spoke a critical word on the quiet disappearance of that item from the meeting.

But the question is slated to reappear when regents gather again Sept. 16-17 in Irvine, not as a policy opposing anti-Semitism, but as a general discussion of “tolerance” on campus.

UC administrators, of course, know all about tolerating anti-Semitism. No suspects have yet been found in several episodes of Nazi-like swastikas daubed onto university buildings and there have been no penalties for student government members who publicly questioned whether Jewish students can make fair and objective decisions or judgments on campus issues.

That’s consistent with the lack of action against students who set up mock roadblocks on the Berkeley campus where Jewish-looking students – and no others – were accosted by toughs carrying machine-gun mockups. This was some Muslim students’ idea of a legitimate protest against Israel’s anti-terror tactics, which have cut deaths by car- and suicide-bombings to a fraction of their former level.

Toothless bromides about tolerance were all those events – and multiple others since 2010 – elicited from administrators and faculty apparently reluctant about doing anything to counter their system’s rising reputation for enabling outright anti-Semitism in the guise of a Palestinian-sponsored campaign to boycott Israel, divest from companies doing business there and create international sanctions against the Jewish state.

No one suggests Israel’s policies should be immune from criticism, protest or debate. They are debated ceaselessly in countless Jewish forums.

But adopting the State Department’s definition would let UC officials know when protest becomes bigotry. The State Department criteria, recently reaffirmed, are simple: If an action aims to delegitimize Israel, denying its very right to exist because it is a Jewish state, that’s anti-Semitic. If a protest demonizes Israel in ways not employed against any other country, that’s also anti-Semitism. And if a protest employs a double standard judging Israel differently from other countries, that’s anti-Semitic, too.

Here’s one clear-cut example: When Israeli terrorists firebombed a Palestinian home and killed a child this summer, government officials immediately condemned the act and began a manhunt for the perpetrators. Palestinian officials and police have never tried to capture any countryman who killed Jewish citizens of Israel. Similarly, campus protestors who vilify Israel for the baby killing ignore the many more similar acts against Israelis. That’s as clear as a double standard can get.

While UC President Janet Napolitano and the regents spent part of the summer backing off a tough stance against anti-Semitism, both the state Senate and Assembly passed a resolution calling on UC campuses to condemn it in all forms, a recognition that this age-old prejudice has morphed into new forms on campus, partly because of the presence of students from countries where anti-Semitism is official policy.

A formal definition is needed, say groups that battle anti-Semitism, because of confusion over the relationship between Jew-hatred and animosity toward Israel.

Since the Assembly under Atkins’ leadership passed its resolution unanimously, it seems logical she should lead her fellow regents back to specifics, rather than going along with the milquetoast attempt to simply discuss tolerance. The university already has myriad policies encouraging tolerance and excoriating “hate speech.”

While those policies have not been enforced against anti-Semites, they effectively prevent hate activities directed against African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Muslims and other groups.

“Action on anti-Israel behavior devolving into anti-Semitism is still on the table,” said a hopeful Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, lecturer at UC Santa Cruz and co-founder of the AMCHA Initiative, which fights on-campus anti-Semitism. “We need a formal definition of what Jewish students are experiencing as anti-Semitism.” Without that, she said, administrators struggle to separate ordinary student protests from acts of hate. This may be one reason many egregious anti-Semitic acts have elicited no punishment.

It’s high time the Board of Regents realizes that if it lapses into generalities and refuses to adopt specific guidelines like those of the State Department, it will be promoting an age-old hatred.

in Opinion
Related Posts

S.M.a.r.t Column: Five Saving Historic Santa Monica

March 3, 2024

March 3, 2024

Our beloved City is surrounded by many threats, from sea level rise to homelessness, to housing affordability, to cancerous overdevelopment,...

S.M.a.r.t Column: Gelson’s Looms Large

February 22, 2024

February 22, 2024

Our guest column this week is by SMCLC (the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City). SMCLC is a well-established...

S.M.a.r.t Column: Top Toady Town

February 18, 2024

February 18, 2024

Throughout history, from the ancient Romans and Assyrians to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, siege warfare has served as an...

S.M.a.r.t Column: The Sunset of Home Ownership

February 11, 2024

February 11, 2024

We are watching the sunset of our historical and cultural American dream of home ownership as we now are crossing...

SMa.r.t. Column: B(U)Y RIGHT

February 4, 2024

February 4, 2024

“By Right” state housing laws that give developers, in certain projects, the ability to ignore codes ‘by right.’ Well, that...

S.M.a.r.t  Column: Serf City

January 28, 2024

January 28, 2024

Homelessness is a problem in California, and nowhere is this more evident than in our fair city, where the unhoused...

S.M.a.r.t  Column: Bond Fatigue

January 22, 2024

January 22, 2024

Last week’s SMart article,  described two critical problems faced by our Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD): the declining...

S.M.a.r.t Column: Peace on Earth

December 27, 2023

December 27, 2023

We are all, by now, saturated with jingles, holiday cards, “ho ho ho’s,” countless commercial advertisements, and exhortations to feel...

S.M.a.r.t Column: On the Clock with Mayor Brock

December 17, 2023

December 17, 2023

I became Santa Monica’s Mayor on Tuesday, December 12, 2023, following a simple “switch of the chairs” transition with outgoing...

S.M.a.r.t Column: SANTA MONICA CITY COUNCIL 2024

December 10, 2023

December 10, 2023

Position:Seeking Santa Monica City Council Candidate(s) Introduction:Exciting opportunity for the right candidate(s) to work with like-minded Council members committed to...

S.M.a.r.t Column: ARB (NOT Ready to Build!)

December 3, 2023

December 3, 2023

Santa Monica City’s Architectural Review Board (ARB), established in 1974, acts “…to preserve existing areas of natural beauty, cultural importance...

SMa.r.t. Column: We are thankful for….

November 27, 2023

November 27, 2023

SMa.r.t. would like to wish you all a great Thanksgiving with friends and family and also to thank its readers...

S.M.a.r.t Column: Make the City New Again

November 19, 2023

November 19, 2023

When the COVID crisis struck, it cut the city’s income in half, demolishing many businesses and causing widespread layoffs and...

S.M.a.r.t Column: Four Futures

October 29, 2023

October 29, 2023

As well described by Paul Krugman, all cities have a core competency: things they do well or better regionally or...

SMa.r.t column: Beautiful Quartz Countertops Are Hurting Workers and Should Be Banned

October 9, 2023

October 9, 2023

Quartz countertops are super popular because they’re tough and can handle stains, scratches, and heat. But there’s a big problem:...