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August 1, 2015 / 16 Av, 5775
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Cal. Univ. Pro-Israel Professor Harassed and Defamed

In the snake pit of academia, where unfashionable explicit Jew-hatred has morphed into enthusiastic and widespread over-the-top anti-Zionism, Professor Tammi Rossman-Benjamin stands out.
Tammi Rossman-Benjamin

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin

For some years, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin has been almost the sole faculty voice in the University of California system speaking out against harassment of Jewish students who support Israel. Here is an excerpt from a complaint she filed with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights in 2009:

Professors, academic departments and residential colleges at [The University of California, Santa Cruz] promote and encourage anti-Israel, anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish views and behavior, much of which is based on either misleading information or outright falsehoods. In addition, rhetoric heard in UCSC classrooms and at numerous events sponsored and funded by academic and administrative units on campus goes beyond legitimate criticism of Israel.  The rhetoric – which demonizes Israel, compares contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis, calls  for the dismantling of the Jewish State, and holds Israel to an impossible double standard – crosses the line into anti-Semitism according to the standards employed by our own government. …

The impact of the academic and university-sponsored Israel-bashing on students has been enormous.  There are students who have felt emotionally and intellectually harassed and intimidated, to the point that they are reluctant or afraid to express a view that is not anti-Israel.

In the snake pit of academia, where unfashionable explicit Jew-hatred has morphed into enthusiastic and widespread over-the-top anti-Zionism, Rossman-Benjamin stands out — even among pro-Israel faculty members, most of whom are happy to  keep their mouths shut and their noses clean for the sake of promotions and tenure.

Now it seems that her enemies have decided to make an example of her, attributing to her the worst possible sins — the 21st century equivalent of witchcraft — racism and Islamophobia.

In the fantasy world of our universities, being accused of crimes against political correctness can get you in big trouble. And there is a degree of viciousness there that those of us who live on Earth and have real jobs can barely imagine. Rossman-Benjamin recently wrote a letter to University of California President Mark Yudoff, where she wrote in part,

… I have recently come under a vicious and unjustified personal attack from a pro-Palestinian student group on my campus, the Committee for Justice in Palestine (CJP) and members of affiliated Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) groups on other UC campuses. They claim that I made “openly racist” and “Islamophobic” comments about the SJP and Muslim Students Association (MSA) during a talk I gave at a synagogue near Boston last summer. …

Most recently, in response to a 2-minute video clip taken from a much longer video of my talk last summer, the UCSC CJP and affiliated SJP groups on other UC campuses have not simply voiced dissent but waged a virulent and harmful campaign to assassinate my character that includes: posting and promoting a defamatory on-line petition accusing me of racism and censorship and calling on you to condemn me; widely posting defamatory flyers about me on the UCSC campus; launching over a dozen videos about me on YouTube that wrongfully accuse me of being “hateful,” “dangerous,” and “Islamophobic;” instructing SJP studentsUC-wide to fill out hate/bias reports against me on their respective campuses; passing libelous resolutions condemning me for my “inflammatory, hateful, and racist assumptions” in the UC BerkeleyUC Santa BarbaraUC Davis, and UC Irvine student senates; and, perhaps most egregiously, appearing to collaborate with groups sympathetic to terrorists (e.g. the International Solidarity Movement) and associated on-line publications (e.g.Electronic Intifada and Mondoweiss) to more widely circulate these defamatory materials about me.

Please understand that the CJP/SJP’s targeted and well-orchestrated campaign of intimidation, harassment, and defamation has caused me to feel real concern for my safety and my ability to carry out my responsibilities as a faculty member at UCSC.

It is no longer remarkable that supporters of the most racist, misogynist, homophobic, intolerant, anti-free-speech and violent forces in the world today — for example, Hamas — take shelter behind Western concern for the complete opposite of all of those. They are expert at the game of political correctness (here is another example). At the same time, their behavior conveys veiled physical threats against their targets.

I find it interesting to recall the atmosphere on campus when I went to school, before the upheavals of the mid-1960′s. One significant difference was the attitude of the Jewish students, who weren’t cowed and apologetic, still not having been beaten into submission to the idea that the Jewish state was an evil, apartheid, Nazi-like oppressor of ‘indigenous’ brown Palestinians. How this happened is a long story, but there certainly is no hope for reversing it if the few faculty members who can serve as models and mentors for Jewish students are intimidated or even driven out.

Check out Rossman-Benjamin’s request for letters of support here.

Visit Fresno Zionism. Previous posts about Tammi Rossman-Benjamin are here and here.

About the Author: Vic Rosenthal created FresnoZionism.org to provide a forum for publishing and discussing issues about Israel and the Mideast conflict, especially where there is a local connection. Rosenthal believes that America’s interests are best served by supporting the democratic state of Israel, the front line in the struggle between Western civilization and radical Islam. The viewpoint is not intended to be liberal or conservative — just pro-Israel.

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

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7 Responses to “Cal. Univ. Pro-Israel Professor Harassed and Defamed”

  1. The anti Israel campaign on university campuses is a disgrace. The pro Israel crowd needs to mobilize and push back against such bigotry. Freedom of speech allows us to stand up for ourselves and to do nothing about this problem would be irresponsible and wrong. Israel is a great nation that is morally based and ethic centered, it has done more in just sixty five years than many countries have in hundreds of years. No country in the world has done more with less than Israel. Israel has nothing to be ashamed about. Stand up, fight for your rights, and don't let anyone disrespect or abuse you.

  2. Alice Lemos says:

    The Tolerant Left and their Islamist buddies at work.

  3. David Baden says:

    What a lot of pathetic hypocrytes, the anti Israel lobby are.Why don't they turn their attention to the human rights abuses carried out daily in the Muslim world in general and Arab countries in particular? Does Syria ring a bell in their muddled prejudiced brains for example, Boston etc. the list goes on forever.Israel is in the front line of Islamic hate for the West, and deserves everyones support.

  4. Gil Gilman says:

    This just shows how much academia has descended into the realm of the thought police. Not that you aren't allowed to think as long as you don't give utterance. I spent 15 years in that climate, from 1965 to 1980. Of course there was always pressure to conform to the norm, especially in campus politics, but also in prevailing notions of what constitutes reality. This is a social phenomenon that exists for the most part in every organized group of people, but it once was that opposing viewpoints were actually debated rather than subsumed into a bias or pre-conceived conclusion. Since academic debate has all but disappeared, what we have left is ignorant hardened viewpoints and sloganeering. As a result we have an academic environment hearkening back to the dark ages.

  5. Gil Gilman says:

    Mark Yudoff was president of my alma mater as well, long after my time there. I do not say this glibly, mockingly, or with braggadocio. I'm just curious about his response. Perhaps Tammi Rossman-Benjamin's letter was the burr under the saddle that impelled him to announce his resignation from UCal effective August 31, 2013 ;-).

  6. Barak Thunder says:

    It is past time to go on the offensive, and not simply "react". Mimic the tactics of our opposition, as distasteful as that might be. Literally – an eye for an eye; even violence for violence (when it is permitted, facilitated, or ignored by those whose job it should be to protect us.)

  7. I can understand if this happened in a Arab country but in America shocking

Comments are closed.

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