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