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Jewish Advocacy Group: California Must Address Campus Anti-Semitism

Friday, March 21st, 2014

The leadership of the Jewish advocacy group the AMCHA Initiative, will testify on Friday, March 21, before a California Assembly Select Committee on Campus Climate.

AMCHA Initiative will be urging members of the state committee to examine campus antisemitism and to take the proper steps to ensure Jewish students feel safe and welcome at California’s colleges and universities.

“Unfortunately, antisemitism at U.S. colleges, and, especially, in California, is growing at an alarming rate,” stated Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a UC professor and AMCHA Initiative cofounder.

“It is a concern we hear about daily from members of California’s Jewish community, including university alumni, rabbis, professors, religious school principals and, of course, students, parents and grandparents.”

“Students have reported to us that they feel uncomfortable speaking freely about their support for Israel and have felt unsafe at times in their classrooms and on campus because they are Jewish,” explained Leila Beckwith, a UC professor and AMCHA Initiative cofounder.

“In addition, we believe that a number of professors and departments are inappropriately using taxpayer dollars to promote their personal anti-Israel and antisemitic agendas, contributing to, and sometimes, inciting a hostile and potentially dangerous environment for Jewish students.”

Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles) announced the creation of the Select Committee in January. March 21 is the first of four public hearings the Committee will hold over the next few months. The Committee was tasked with investigating issues pertaining to student welfare on college campuses. Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), who worked as a San Diego State University professor, chairs the Committee.

Rossman-Benjamin and Beckwith will provide information to the committee members about the following recent incidents:

• UC Davis, February 2012: Students for Justice in Palestine interrupted, heckled and physically threatened speakers at a pro-Israel event, causing it to be shutdown. The attendees reported fearing for their safety at the event and for weeks after.

• UC Davis, November 2012: Forty protestors blocked Jewish students from entering a university administrative building and bullied and harassed Jewish students who slipped through the blockade.

• San Francisco State University, November 2013: General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS), hosted an event where participants could make posters that said, “My Heroes Have Always Killed Colonizers,” referring to Jews, as well as posters of the convicted hijacker Leila Khaled holding a gun. Leila Khaled is a member of the State-Department designated terrorist group, the PFLP, which is responsible for 159 violent terrorist acts.

• San Francisco State University, 2013-2014: The President of GUPS repeatedly threatened SFSU Jewish students, Israelis, and anyone who supports Israel. He also glorified the PFLP. For example, this student was shown wielding a knife on social media with the caption, “I love this blade…it makes me want to stab an Israeli soldier” and “the only peace I’m interested in is the head of this [expletive] scum on a plate, as well as the heads of all others like her, and all others who support the IDF.” He also stated that he hopes members of the SFSU student group Hillel “trip down the stairs and break their necks.”

• UC Davis, UCLA and UC Riverside, January 2014: Three University of California campuses hosted known anti-Semitic speaker Omar Barghouti. At the events, Barghouti spewed classic anti-Semitic rhetoric and lies.

SFSU Student Continued Posting Violent Threats Against IDF, Jews

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Back in December, The Jewish Press ran a story about Mohammad Hammad, the San Francisco State University student and president of SFSU’s General Union of Palestine Students.

Hammad had posted a picture and a message on the social media site Tumblr, which shows Hammad with a knife, beneath which is the caption, “I seriously can not get over how much I love this blade. It is the sharpest thing I own and cuts through everything like butter and just holding it makes me want to stab an Israeli soldier.”

The California-based AMCHA Initiative, which brought Hammad’s original threats to the public’s attention, released another statement today. This statement links to many more violent and threatening statements by Hammad which he made after the one that was the original focus of the group’s concern. The AMCHA Initiative is dedicated to documenting, exposing and eradicating anti-Semitism on American campuses.

In its Feb. 18 statement, AMCHA said that although its documentation of Hammad’s violent postings had been submitted to SFSU president Leslie Wong in mid-January, there had been no response.

Because Wong had not responded to AMCHA’s documentations, and due to serious concern about the health and safety of SFSU students, earlier on the day it released its statement, AMCHA alerted San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr, and the San Francisco District Attorney, George Gascòn, about Hammad’s violent predilection. They also provided copies of the many threatening and hostile public statements issued by Hammad.

The lurid messages continued right through November 22, when the student posted a public message in which he wrote:

You know what?
Israelis ARE colonizers, there is literally no way around it
And you know what else?
My heroes have always killed colonizers
I literally see nothing wrong with this
and my only regret is that not all colonizers were killed
HMM

In Hammad’s other violence-glorifying posts, he targeted not only members of the IDF and all Israelis, but anyone who is pro-Israel, as well as American soldiers. He also posted several more general paeans to murder, decapitation and depraved violence.

Something that AMCHA found particularly troubling was that Hammad revealed his excitement about being made the president of SFSU’s General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS), because then, he wrote, he hopes “to radicalize half of our population and bring them back with me as fighters.”

GOOD NEWS FOR SFSU, BAD NEWS FOR SAN FRANCISCANS?

Although Robert Nava, SFSU’s vice president for university development, initially told The Jewish Press by telephone that SFSU was engaged in the process of discipline with respect to Hammad, he later called back to provide a far more definitive statement.

Nava said that the student we had been discussing – Mohammad Hammad -  “is no longer a student on campus.” Hammad no longer is in student housing and he is no longer enrolled at SFSU.

When Tammi Benjamin-Rossman, co-founder of AMCHA, was told that SFSU officially stated that Hammad was gone from the SFSU campus, she expressed both relief and continued concern.

“The GUPS students knew who Hammad was, what kinds of things he said and has done, and yet they selected him as their representative,” said Rossman-Benjamin. “SFSU cannot just breathe a sigh of relief and end its diligence with the dismissal of Hammad.”

“What steps is SFSU taking to protect students who remain in harms way?” Rosmman-Benjamin wanted to know. “Their continued silence suggests they have done nothing more than get rid of one problem, without ensuring that it won’t be repeated.”

Officer Albie Esparza, the spokesperson for the San Francisco Chief of Police acknowledged that the office had received a packet of material earlier in the day and told The Jewish Press that the office was “looking into the matter.”  He said that an investigator had already contacted the person who provided the department with the information.

UCLA Officially Protects Promotion of Anti-Israel Boycott

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

A professor of World Arts and Culture who specializes in Native American cultures at the University of California at Los Angeles, David Delgado Shorter, has been given the official green light to continue using university resources to promote the boycott of Israel by the university’s Committee on Academic Freedom.

Several months ago a California-based group focused on protecting Jewish students from academic anti-Semitism, AMCHA, learned from UCLA students that Shorter prominently features links to the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel on his official class website.  The students who brought the anti-Israel concerns to AMCHA were too worried about retribution to complain either to Shorter or to anyone else at UCLA.

The founders of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel have openly stated that their ultimate goal is the dismantling of the Jewish State.  Hannah Rosenthal, the U.S. State Department’s former Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, has called their campaign anti-Semitic.  It is AMCHA’s position that all boycotts of Israel are deliberate assaults on the Jewish state and the Jewish people.

AMCHA took the students’ information and approached UCLA administrators, asking whether UCLA considered it within the parameters of academic freedom to promote the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.  According to Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, Lecturer in Hebrew and Jewish Studies at University of California Santa Cruz, and co-founder of AMCHA’s Investigative Taskforce on Campus Antisemitism, there was never any intention to either censor or punish Shorter.  They simply wanted to know, on the record, the answer to their question.

And now they do.

In a letter to Shorter dated July 9, 2012, the UCLA Academic Senate CAF determined that promoting the boycott of Israel on a professor’s class website was “consistent with professional standards,” and therefore that Shorter’s promotion of that boycott, in the context of his classroom, would be protected by UCLA.

AMCHA points out that such a position conflicts with the UCLA Regents Policy on Course Content, which states that the misuse of the classroom for “political indoctrination” constitutes misuse of the University as an institution.  Shorter’s promotion of the academic boycott of Israel on his UCLA class website also appears to be a clear violation of the California Education Code , which prohibits the use of the name of any UC campus for the support, endorsement, or advancement of political or partisan activity or program, with “boycott” specifically named.

But the UCLA CAF was not content to simply exonerate Shorter.  Instead, much of its two page letter to Shorter excoriated Leuchter for listening to an “outside group.”  Apparently the UCLA CAF imposes the same stringent standards for filing complaints as do United States courts: “The only parties who should have the standing to complain about whether the content of a course threatens academic freedom are members of the University directly affected by the content of a course (e.g., students or teaching assistants).”

Efforts to reach a member of the University of California Board of Regents have not yet been successful.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/jewish-news/ucla-officially-protects-promotion-of-anti-israel-boycott/2012/07/24/

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