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August 30, 2016 / 26 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘AMCHA Initiative’

Proponent Rejoices: U Cal Recognizes Link Between Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism

Friday, March 25th, 2016

The full Board of Regents of the University of California (UC) today approved a policy that condemns anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism and says there is no place for those and other forms of discrimination at UC. The policy was approved unanimously by the Regents education committee yesterday.

The approval of this policy was welcomed by the force behind the creation and adoption of this policy, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, co-founder of the AMCHA Initiative.

Rossman-Benjamin explained why the new policy was so important. She said that Jewish students on campuses are frequently the victims of the pernicious anti-Zionist movement spreading across campuses. This is so regardless of a Jewish student’s views or even knowledge about Israeli policies. It is a victimization based solely on the student’s religion, not their political views, and that is why it rightly falls under the category of anti-Semitism.

After a lengthy battle to get the Board of Regents to recognize this fact, Rossman-Benjamin is elated.

“For the first time a university has acknowledged the blatant anti-Semitism within anti-Zionism. Anti-Zionism has now been linked to anti-Semitism and condemned by the most prestigious and largest public university in the United States. This is an unprecedented and remarkable step forward, which will benefit Jewish students across the country.

“We applaud all of the Regents for addressing the record-high and growing anti-Jewish hate. We would like to particularly acknowledge Regent Norm Pattiz, who personally championed this landmark policy on behalf of Jewish students,” Rossman-Benjamin said.

For over a year AMCHA has been bringing this issue to the attention of Regents through letters and meetings and by regularly testifying before the Regents. This started after AMCHA members began hearing from concerned parents and students about the rapid rise of anti-Semitism at UC.

AMCHA led a coalition of more than 40 Jewish and education advocacy groups that regularly communicated with the Regents on this matter.

The AMCHA Initiative is a non-profit organization focused on combating, monitoring and documenting anti-Semitism at institutions of higher education in America. In 2012 Rossman-Benjamin co-founded the organization with her colleague, Dr. Leila Beckwith.

Rossman-Benjamin pointed out that the latest public figures to recognize that anti-Semitism is a factor in the BDS (Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel) Movement are U.S. presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. These two join the Republican candidates for president, as well as Pope Francis, President Obama, British Prime Minister Cameron, French Prime Minister Valls and Pope Francis, all of whom have stated that denying Israel’s right to exist is anti-Semitism.

The AMCHA Initiative conducted a study of anti-Semitism at more than 100 U.S. colleges and universities in 2015. Five University of California schools ranked in the top 10% of schools with the most anti-Semitic activity, and four of those campuses were in the top five worst schools.

The AMCHA study also found the presence of anti-Zionist activities, anti-Zionist student groups and faculty who endorse an academic boycott of Israel were strong predictors of anti-Semitism.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Amcha Initiative: UC Davis Must Address Escalating Wave of On-Campus Anti-Semitism

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

(JNi.media) Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, AMCHA Initiative co-founder and director, issued a statement in response to recent anti-Semitic graffiti at UC Davis, saying, “What happened at UC Davis is incredibly frightening and alarming,” and noting that “to those of us monitoring this closely, it is clear the wave of anti-Semitism that has haunted UC’s Jewish students over the past few years is only escalating and must be addressed.”

Last Saturday, cars and walls at a UC Davis campus parking lot, outside an apartment complex, were defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti, swastikas and hate messages, including the message “[Expletive] Jews.” Chancellor Linda Katehi said in a statement earlier this week: “I am deeply troubled and disappointed that the campus community has experienced another incident that included damaged property and, even more grievously, offensive and disparaging slurs. This is conduct most unbecoming and completely against our principles of community.”

“We applaud Chancellor Katehi for swiftly condemning this most recent anti-Semitic act at UC Davis and calling for a welcoming, tolerant and safe community,” Rossman-Benjamin said, but insisted that “it is critical the UC Regents adopt the State Department definition of anti-Semitism to educate students and faculty about how some of the extreme rhetoric often used during divisive BDS campaigns breeds a climate of hate that encourages anti-Semitic incidents like this.”

The US State Department definition recognizes that contemporary anti-Semitism has assumed various disguised forms and, as the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights found, is often “camouflaged as anti-Israelism or anti-Zionism.” The State Department definition acknowledges activity that demonizes and delegitimizes Israel and denies its right to exist as anti-Semitism.

According to AMCHA, UC has experienced many incidents of anti-Jewish discrimination this past academic year, including swastikas spray-painted on a Jewish fraternity after fraternity brothers spoke against divesting from Israel, “grout out the Jews” and “Hitler did nothing wrong” carved into school property after contentious BDS campaigns, a Hillel event for the LGBT community protested and disrupted by anti-Israel students and faculty, flyers blaming Israel AND all Jews for 9/11 plastered on campus and a Jewish student running for office questioned about her eligibility by anti-Israel activists simply because of her religion. UC Jewish students report feeling afraid to tell fellow students they are Jewish, walk to the Hillel house for Sabbath dinner and wear a Jewish star necklace. Many report being bullied, harassed, intimidated and assaulted.

The UC Regents recently formed a working group to address anti-Semitism on campus. Over the past six months, more than 50 Jewish organizations, including ADL, AJC, Hillel, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and AMCHA and more than 3,000 UC students, faculty, alumni, California residents, rabbis, Jewish day school principals and educators, including the world’s preeminent scholars of anti-Semitism, have written to UC in support of adopting an accurate definition of modern anti-Semitism to properly identify and educate the campus community about contemporary Jew-hatred. Specifically, the groups have urged the adoption of the State Department definition of anti-Semitism.

JNi.Media

AntiSemitic Experiences of American Jewish College Students Chronicled Online

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

An organization has set up a webpage which catalogues, by university, testimony by Jewish students who have experienced antisemitism on their campuses.

The AMCHA Initiative, which monitors, investigates and fights against antisemitism at institutions of higher learning in America, set up the webpage a year and a half ago.

Called “Student Voices,” the webpage reveals experiences of Jewish students on America’s campuses who have been targeted, intimidated and/or frightened because they are Jewish.

AMCHA reports that it has collected testimonials from more than 100 students, located at 47 different schools, in 20 states.

“Campus antisemitism is widespread and it’s escalating at an alarming rate,” said AMCHA director and cofounder Tammi Rossman-Benjamin.  “Students should know they are not alone.  We hope the compilation of concerns shared by brave Jewish students over the past year-and-a-half will help university leaders and elected officials understand the breadth of the problem and take action.”

TESTIMONIALS

All of the personal declarations on the AMCHA webpage, “Student Voices” were stated publicly at student government meetings or quoted in news stories, and the testimonials include links to those sources.

Here are just some examples:

♦ The Jewish flag was ripped off the dorm door and the mezuzah was torn off the doorway of a Jewish student at Claremont-McKenna College in California.

♦ Swastikas were spray painted on the walls of the Jewish fraternity at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

♦ At Loyola University in Chicago, Jewish students reported being “peppered with hostile questions such as “How does it feel to be an occupier?” and “How does it feel to be guilty of ethnic cleansing?” One member is worried about attending future Hillel events for fear of being attacked.”

♦ Mock eviction notices were shoved under the dorm room doors of a predominantly Jewish dorm while students slept at New York University.

♦ A Northeastern University (Boston) professor, “demonizes Israel, delegitimizes Jewish history and infringes on his student’s free speech by shutting down any differing views.”

♦ A Jewish student at Northwestern University in Chicago described being “terrified knowing I may not be able to discuss my Judaism without taunts, or worse, violence,” and that she is “told when I try to talk about anti-Semitism in the West to “check my privilege,” or that we are part of the machine fueling inequality.”

♦ A student at San Diego State University said that as a “Jewish student on this campus, and the grandson of Holocaust survivors, I was disgusted and horrified by the anti-Semitic comments.”

♦ There are students who tuck their Star of David necklaces inside their shirts to hide that they are Jewish, according to a Jewish student at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

♦ Stanford University’s Hillel staff reported hearing from Jewish students that they no longer feel safe at Stanford, that they feel ostracized and targeted, and are unable to express their identities and opinions in the dorms and around campus.

♦ Students with a clear Zionist perspective are labeled and excluded from the discussion at Swarthmore University in Pennsylvania, a Jewish student explained. “We have been told we do not belong at this school, that our voices do not belong in the dialogue. We have been accused of supporting apartheid and of being racist.”

♦ A student at UCLA said, “Jewish students are being attacked — not because they are Jewish but because the Jewish state is Jewish, and they as Jews, have somehow become extensions of the Jewish state and its policies.”

♦ About the University of California, Davis, one student said, ““It’s an absurd reality that many Jewish college students have to question: is my college safe for me?”

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Empty Calif. BDS Vote Triggers Neutrality Reminder: Israel Wins

Friday, December 12th, 2014

The big news coming out of the west coast this week seems bad for Israel. If you listen to or read the news as most people do, the gist of the story was that the University of California voted to join the anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Divest from and Sanction Israel) movement.

What actually happened was that 65 percent of the voting members of the union representing the teaching assistants, readers and tutors and other student-workers at the University of California voted to join the national BDS movement.

That union, the UAW 2865, has more than 13,000 members. Fewer than 2,200 voted. That’s less than 17 percent of the total membership which voted, and of that number, only 65 percent voted in favor of the resolution. That means only 11 percent of the UAW 2865 membership voted to join the BDS movement. And that’s in California!

Still, it was a democratic election and the Resolution passed.

What exactly does the UAW 2856 BDS Resolution entail? Will Israeli academics no longer be permitted to speak at UC schools? Will Israelis be barred from attending UC schools? Will SodaStream no longer be used at UC events?

Of the three scenarios posed, only the last one could arguably be an issue under the UAW 2865 BDS Resolution, but it’s unlikely anyone is using SodaStream at UC events anyway.

The Resolution actually does very little. It calls on the University of California to “divest from companies involved in Israeli occupation and apartheid; it calls on the UAW International to do the same; and it calls on “the US government to end military aid to Israel.”

In other words, UAW 2865 BDS Resolution simply allows a group of self-righteous Israel haters to join together to ask the University of California to do something it will not do.

As for the U.S. government heeding the call from this tiny group of rabble-rousers? Not bloody likely. Finally, it is simply astounding that the UAW 2865 International has not already taken the action sought in this Resolution. Shouldn’t the members be sharing their hatred at home, first?

So, really, energy should not be expended worrying about the effects of this BDS resolution.

However, a group of knowledgeable non-profit organizations joined together and asked a very good question: are these teaching assistant and other student-workers permitted to engage in teaching their viewpoint about Israel to the UC students, as the organizers promised to do?

The AMCHA Initiative and 11 other pro-Israel organizations (see the full list at the end of this article) sent a letter to UC PResident Janet Napolitano several months ago, when the UAW 2865 vowed to push for a vote on its BDS Resolution.

In that letter, the pro-Israel organizations refer to a UAW 2865 public pledge:

We have a responsibility as educators to both learn about and teach the social issues of our time, including pressing global struggles such as the struggle of the Palestinian people for liberation from settler-colonialism and apartheid.

Given that pledge, the concerned organizations called on Napolitano to explain how the university system was going to enforce its “UC Regents Policy on Course Content.”

In response, the provost for the university system, Aimée Dorr, explicitly reminded all the university chancellors that the Policy on Course Content prohibits the UAW 2865 graduate student instructors from promoting BDS and anti-Israel propaganda in the classroom.

That policy, Regents Policy 2301, explicitly states: “Misuse of the classroom by, for example, allowing it to be used for political indoctrination, for purposes other than those for which the course was constituted… constitutes misuse of the University as an institution.”

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Non-Jewish Groups Join Protest against Campus Anti-Semitism

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

A group of 14 Jewish and non-Jewish organizations has issued a letter to more than 2,500 U.S. colleges and universities urging them to protect Jewish students on campus in light of rising anti-Semitism in America and abroad.

The organizations include Alpha Epsilon Pi, AMCHA Initiative, American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, Americans for Peace and Tolerance, Christians United for Israel, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), David Horowitz Freedom Center, Hasbara Fellowships, Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel, Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Simon Wiesenthal Center Campus Outreach, StandWithUs, and the Zionist Organization of America.

“None of us should tolerate a campus climate of fear or disrespect, which can seriously impair the physical and psychological health of students and create conditions that negatively affect their learning and their ability to achieve their full potential,” the letter states.

The signatories raised concern over the actions of the anti-Israel Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which the letter notes has a history of “harassing and intimidating Jewish students.”

The letter goes on to cite several incidents on campuses, including a recent one at Temple University in which a pro-Israel student was physically and verbally assaulted by SJP members, as well as SJP’s planting of anti-Israel mock eviction notices under students’ dorm rooms.

“While justifying its hatred and bigotry as protected under the First Amendment, the SJP employs tactics geared to silencing and marginalizing the views of Jewish students who support Israel,” the letter says.

The letter also cited that these schools are responsible for protecting Jewish students from anti-Semitism under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

“Jews around the world are being held collectively responsible for Israel’s actions, which are defensive and undertaken to protect its people,” says the letter. “This is anti-Semitism, according to U.S. government standards.”

 

JNS News Service

Anti- Anti-Israel Group Lists Anti-Israel Professors on N.American Campuses

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

The AMCHA Initiative, an organization created to help protect students on North American campuses from the ever-increasing numbers and severity of attacks – physical and verbal – of anti-Semitism, has just provided a useful self-defense tool for students returning to campus for the 2014-15 academic year.

That tool is a comprehensive listing of the more than 200 self-identified Middle East scholars, who signed a petition dated August 6, 2014, calling on their colleagues “to boycott Israeli academic institutions,” and who pledged “not to collaborate on projects and events involving Israeli academic institutions, not to teach at or to attend conferences and other events at such institutions, and not to publish in academic journals based in Israel.”

“How can professors who are so biased against the Jewish state accurately or fairly teach students about Israel or the Arab-Israel conflict?” asked Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, AMCHA Initiative co-founder and faculty at the University of California Santa Cruz.

“Students who wish to become better educated without subjecting themselves to anti-Israel bias, or possibly even anti-Semitic rhetoric, may want to check which faculty members from their university to see whether they are signatories, before registering,” Rossman-Benjamin explained.

“It’s bad enough that these professors have revealed themselves to be wildly biased against one, and only one, Middle Eastern country. Even more troubling, however, is the fact that many of these patently biased boycotters of Israel are affiliated with government-designated, taxpayer-funded National Resource Centers (NRC) on their campuses,” stated Leila Beckwith, AMCHA Initiative cofounder and UCLA emeritus professor.

“Clearly NRC-affiliated faculty who have publicly vilified Israel and committed themselves to refusing ‘to collaborate on projects and events involving Israeli institutions’ have violated both the letter and spirit of the federal law which funds their teaching and research,” Beckwith said.

Established by Congress under Title VI of the Higher Education Act and administered by the U.S. Department of Education, university-hosted NRCs nationwide receive more than 30 million dollars annually for the purpose of equipping students with a full and unbiased understanding of the regions and countries of the world that are vital to U.S. security interests. These Centers are also required by law to maintain linkages with overseas institutions of higher education that “contribute to the teaching and research of the Center.”

Of the 20 universities which received federal funding to support Middle East Studies NRCs in the 2010 – 2014 grant cycle, faculty affiliated with 16 of them have shown their unambiguous anti-Israel bias by signing the petition to boycott Israeli universities and scholars: Columbia University, Duke University, Georgetown University, George Washington University, Harvard University, New York University, Princeton University, University of California Berkeley, University of California Los Angeles, University of Chicago, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, University of Pennsylvania, University of Texas at Austin, University of Washington Seattle, and Yale University.

The single school with the largest number of boycott petition signers is Georgetown University. Thirteen members of the Georgetown faculty signed the Aug. 6 Israel boycott petition. In a close second place is Columbia University, which has 11 faculty signers.

Tiny Brown University in Rhode Island has three faculty members who signed the Israel boycott petition. Harvard University has two faculty members who signed the Israel Boycott petition, Princeton has three (all of whom appear to be Jewish), two signers are from Yale, one faculty member from Stanford University signed the Boycott Israel petition, and nine faculty members from the University of California at Berkeley signed the petition.

A full list of professors who have signed the petition at each U.S. college and university can be found HERE.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Echoes Of McCarthyism In UCLA Anti-Israel Campaign

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

UCLA has some proud moments in the history of civil liberties.

After World War II, UCLA and the University of California, Berkeley, were hotbeds of opposition to an anti-communist loyalty oath that California tried to impose on academics. Ultimately the professors won in court in 1954.

Sixty years later, a different pressure group purportedly speaking for the “progressive” grassroots wants to impose on UCLA students a loyalty oath of sorts – a pledge foreswearing going on trips to Israel sponsored by certain Jewish organizations.

Issued by five pro-Palestinian groups, the call demanded that candidates for student government take the pledge.

Who would have thought that McCarthyite tactics would be used to target, harass and intimidate pro-Israel students, Jewish and non-Jewish, at UCLA? There are ominous echoes here of both the medieval witch hunts against Jews and Stalin’s show trials.

Leading the charge is Students for Justice in Palestine, which is funded in part by two organizations dedicated to the destruction of Israel, American Muslims for Palestine and Al-Awda.

SJP is using cyberbullying to punish Jewish students in the UCLA student government majority who voted against a recent resolution to divest from and boycott Israel. Jewish students who opposed the resolution reportedly feel uncomfortable even walking on campus because of the hate mail they have received.

Adding insult to injury, SJP has introduced an initiative calling for a judicial board investigation of student council members who have taken trips to Israel sponsored by groups such as the Anti-Defamation League, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and Hasbara Fellowships; the SJP deems the groups have “political agendas that marginalize multiple communities on campus.”

On other campuses across the country, SJP tactics include mock eviction notices against Jewish students, “die-ins,” and promotions of virulently anti-Israel speakers and events.

The SJP initiative demanding that candidates for student government positions sign a pledge not to take certain trips to Israel violates both the UCLA Principles of Community Conduct and the Student Conduct Code against harassment of all kinds.

Unfortunately, what’s happening at UCLA is not an aberration but part of a national trend. Here are examples from a coast-to-coast report compiled by Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a founder of the AMCHA Initiative, a nonprofit group that combats campus anti-Semitism:

  • At UC Davis, a student who expressed concern about anti-Semitic banners displayed at an anti-Israel “occupation” rally was physically assaulted by a protester who screamed in his face, “You are racist and you should die in hell.”
  • At UC Berkeley, a Jewish girl holding an “Israel wants peace” sign was ramrodded with a shopping cart by the head of the local SJP chapter.
  • At San Francisco State University last fall, the General Union of Palestine Students hosted an all-day event where participants could make posters and T-shirts that said, “My heroes have always killed colonizers” – meaning Jews.
  • At Harvard, the Palestine Security Committee frightened Jewish students by placing mock eviction notices on their dormitory rooms.
  • At Northeastern University in Boston, SJP vandalized a menorah and disrupted Jewish events.
  • At the University of Michigan, anti-Israel student activists hurled death threats at Jewish student council members and called them “dirty Jew” and “kike.”

Why is it that so many university administrators and academics seem paralyzed to act if the victims of campus bullying are Zionist Jews?

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block’s reactions to the developments on his campus have been unsatisfactory. First, according to the Daily Bruin, he wanted to “leave the matter to be resolved by students.” Later, he said, “I am troubled that the pledge can reasonably be seen as trying to eliminate selected viewpoints from the discussion,” but he nevertheless stood up for the pledge as free speech protected by the First Amendment.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper and Aron Hier

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/echoes-of-mccarthyism-in-ucla-anti-israel-campaign/2014/06/04/

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