In light of the pervasive anti-Semitism allowed to fester at the University of California Irvine (UCI), 36 Jewish and civil rights groups today demanded UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman immediately implement the recently passed Regents Statement of Principles Against Intolerance.
“Jewish students report that UCI administrators have consistently turned a blind eye to acts of anti-Semitism that would have been promptly and vigorously condemned were they directed against any other racial, ethnic or gender minority,” the groups wrote to Gillman.
In the letter, organized by AMCHA Initiative, the groups demand Gillman publicly disclose how he plans to combat the rampant anti-Semitism on his campus. Specifically, they ask him to answer the following:
“How do you plan to implement the Regents statement in addressing the alarming problem of anti-Semitic anti-Zionism that has created an intolerable campus climate for Jewish students at UC Irvine? Specifically, what rules, policies and procedures will you invoke or enact, and what educational initiatives will you establish, to ensure that anti-Jewish bigotry will be treated as promptly and vigorously as all other racial, ethnic or gender bigotry, and to guarantee the safety and well-being of Jewish students, and all students, at UC Irvine?”
In March, the UC Regents unanimously approved a policy to address the growing anti-Semitism plaguing many of UC’s 10 campuses. The policy acknowledges that anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism are no less discriminatory than racism, homophobia or sexism, and calls on UC chancellors to address them just as they would any other act of discrimination.
“Recent events on your campus demonstrate the critical importance of promptly and comprehensively implementing the Regents statement at UC Irvine,” wrote the groups to Gillman.
Incidents include a massive disruption of a recent Hillel movie screening and a speech, by Neturei Karta’s Yisroel Dovid Weiss. During the disruption event attendees were held hostage for nearly an hour by aggressive protestors and eventually had to be safely escorted out by police. According to witnesses and university officials, protesters shouted threatening and violent profanities and attempted to push their way inside the room. The week before, during Anti-Zionism Week 2016, Weiss, invited to speak by the Muslim Student Union (MSU) and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), spewed classic anti-Semitic tropes accusing Jews of mendacity, criminality and controlling the government. UC Irvine has played host to a number of anti-Semitic events over the past decade including the disruption of a speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren where multiple student protesters were arrested and prosecuted.
In March, AMCHA released an empirical study reporting widespread anti-Semitism in 2015 among the top 100 schools for Jewish students. The study found that the presence of anti-Zionist groups like SJP and MSU increased the likelihood of anti-Semitic incidents on U.S. campuses. In fact, 57% of schools with one or more active anti-Zionist student groups had one or more incidents that targeted Jewish students for harm, whereas only 8% of schools with no active anti-Zionist student groups had such incidents.