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December 6, 2016 / 6 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Tammi Rossman-Benjamin’

UC Berkeley Responds to Pressure, Suspends Anti-Semitic Course

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

Responding to pressure from dozens of Jewish and education advocacy organizations who over the past few weeks have expressed their objections to a blatantly anti-Israel and anti-Semitic course titled, “Palestine: A settler Colonial Analysis,” that was being offered by UC Berkeley, the school announced it would suspend the course because it was not adequately vetted to ensure that it met Berkeley’s academic standards.

In a letter to Tammi Rossman Benjamin, director of AMCHA Initiative, who coordinated the protest effort, an assistant to UC Berkeley’s Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, wrote:

“It has been determined that the facilitator for the course in question did not comply with policies and procedures that govern the normal academic review and approval of proposed courses for the Decal program. As a result, the proposed course did not receive a sufficient degree of scrutiny to ensure that the syllabus met Berkeley’s academic standards before it was opened for enrollment to students. For that reason, approval for the course has been suspended pending completion of the mandated review and approval process. It should also be noted that the Executive Dean of the College of Letters and Science is very concerned about the offering of any course, even a student-run course, which espouses a single political viewpoint and/or appears to offer a forum for political organizing rather than an opportunity for the kind of open academic inquiry that Berkeley is known for.”

The September 13 letter from 43 Jewish, civil rights and education advocacy organizations to Chancellor Dirks said, among other things: “We believe that this course violates the Regents Policy on Course Content, which specifically prohibits using the classroom ‘as an instrument for the advance of partisan interest’ or for ‘political indoctrination.’ Furthermore, it appears that compliance with the Regents Policy is not even a requirement of the present procedure for vetting DeCal courses, allowing for the unbridled misuse of the classroom by politically motivated instructors. This state of affairs requires rectification.”

The letter suggested that the offending course’s objectives, reading materials and guest speakers were politically motivated, and met the US government’s criteria for anti-Semitism, in an effort to “indoctrinate students to hate the Jewish state and take action to eliminate it.”

The course learning objectives made it clear that a key goal of the class was to encourage students to accept unquestioningly the false and defamatory idea that Israel is an illegitimate settler colonial state, the letter argued, noting that “by the end of the course students are required to have ‘researched, formulated, and presented decolonial alternatives to the current situation,’ which, in the context of the other course objectives, means that a significant part of the course will be devoted to thinking about ways to ‘decolonize’ — that is, eliminate — Israel.”

The letter pointed out that Both guest speakers listed in the course syllabus, Keith Feldman and Hatem Bazian, have publicly supported an academic boycott of Israel, and Bazian, who is also the course’s faculty sponsor, “is himself a well-known leader of the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) movement as well as campaigns to eliminate the Jewish state.”

“This is a great day for students at Berkeley,” wrote Benjamin in an email message Tuesday night, adding that “our classrooms should never be used to spew hate or push political propaganda aimed at indoctrinating students.”

Benjamin said she and the rest of the groups involved in the protest effort “applaud UC Berkeley’s Chancellor Dirks and his staff for their swift and appropriate response regarding this course,” cautioning that “there is still work to be done to ensure that all new courses at UC Berkeley are adequately reviewed for compliance with university policies prohibiting misuse of the classroom for political indoctrination.”

JNi.Media

New Study: Alarming Spike in Campus Anti-Semitism in 2016

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

Nearly 100 more incidents of anti-Semitism occurred on campus during the first six months of 2016 compared with the first six months of 2015, according to AMCHA Initiative’s mid-year study released today. In addition, calls for Israel’s elimination on campus tripled, and that expression highly correlated with actions that harm Jewish students.

“The growing problem of campus anti-Semitism is no doubt a serious threat facing the Jewish community, but this disturbing and dangerous spike and the bolder, more brazen, methods of those perpetrating this hate are particularly alarming,” cautioned Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, AMCHA Initiative director and co-founder.

The study, which examined anti-Semitic activity from January to June 2016 on more than 100 public and private colleges and universities with the largest Jewish undergraduate populations, found that 287 anti-Semitic incidents occurred at 64 schools during that time period, reflecting a 45% increase from the 198 incidents reported in the first six months of 2015.

The study also revealed the following disturbing trends:

Suppression of speech approximately doubled from 2015 to 2016. In 2016, 14 incidents that restricted Jewish students’ civil rights by suppressing their speech, blocking their movement or hindering their assembly were found on 12 campuses. These incidents reflect a significant increase from the first half of 2015, in which eight incidents of suppression occurred on seven campuses.

Expression denying Israel’s right to exist nearly tripled from 2015 to 2016 and correlated with actions intended to harm Jewish students. The first half of 2016 saw an almost three-fold increase in the number of campus incidents that contained expression opposing the existence of Israel, a recognized form of anti-Semitism by global leaders such as President Obama, Pope Francis and the prime ministers of Canada, Britain and France and the world’s preeminent scholars of anti-Semitism. There were 43 such incidents in 2016 compared to 15 during the first half of 2015. In fact, expression opposing the existence of Israel highly correlated with conduct that targeted Jewish students for harm.

Divestment resolutions are fueling anti-Semitism. In 2016, the student governments of 10 schools in the study considered anti-Israel divestment resolutions. Of these 10 schools, eight showed the largest increase in anti-Semitism from 2015 to 2016. Conversely, seven of the nine schools in the 2015 study that considered or voted on divestment resolutions showed a marked decrease in anti-Semitic activity in the first half of 2016 when no divestment resolution was considered. The two schools that did not decrease in anti-Semitic activity hosted discussions and votes on divestment.

Anti-Zionism, particularly Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activities, anti-Zionist student groups, and faculty boycotters, remain the strongest predictors of anti-Semitic incidents on campus. Consistent with 2015, this study revealed that anti-Semitism was twice as likely to occur on campuses where BDS was present, eight times more likely to occur on campuses with at least one active anti-Zionist student group such as SJP, and six times more likely to occur on campuses with one or more faculty boycotters. In fact, schools with more faculty boycotters and more BDS activity tended to have more incidents of anti-Semitic activity.

Schools to watch in 2016: the schools with the largest increase from 2015 to 2016 are Columbia University, Vassar College, University of Chicago, NYU, University of Minnesota, University of Massachusetts (Amherst), University of Wisconsin (Madison), University of Florida and the University of Washington.

“Instead of just boycotting Israel, the anti-Zionists are now boycotting Jewish students,” stated Professor Leila Beckwith, AMCHA co-founder and one of the study’s lead researchers. “Sadly, all too often it is not debate but hate. The lines between political discussions on Israeli policy and discrimination toward Jewish students are being blurred. Anti-Zionists are attempting to harm, alienate, and ostracize Jewish students; it is Jewish students’ civil rights that are being trampled. To properly address this rise in anti-Jewish bigotry, universities must adopt a proper definition of contemporary anti-Semitism and use it to educate the campus community about the distinct line between criticism of Israeli policies and discrimination against Jewish people.”

The report concluded with recommendations for university administrators including (1) adopting a definition of anti-Semitism that identifies all forms of anti-Jewish bigotry, including when criticism of Israel crosses the line into anti-Semitism; (2) allocating resources to educate students and faculty about contemporary forms of anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish discrimination; and (3) establishing clear guidelines about free speech protected under the First Amendment and conduct which violates others’ civil rights, including disrupting or shutting down campus events and restricting free speech and right of assembly.

Read full copy of today’s report.

JNi.Media

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

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

California Taxpayer Money Hijacked for Faculty Terrorist Meetings?

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Once again painstaking work done by supporters of Israel reveal that public universities are paying to support, encourage and promote terrorists by faculty or students of American universities. This time what it means is that American taxpayers are paying for radical professors to travel to the Middle East in order to show solidarity with and support people who promote the murder of Americans and Israelis.

The scam this time went like this: a professor of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University, Prof. Rabab Abdulhadi submitted a series of documents for SFSU administrators to sign so that she could get funding to attend an academic conference in Lebanon, to “conduct research,” and to meet with “potential collaborators towards [establishing a] memorandum of understanding with San Francisco State University” in Jordan and the West Bank.

After her trip and the funding was approved, Abdulhadi sent a memo stating that “her name was dropped from the academic conference.”

But Abdulhadi went on the pre-approved and publicly funded trip anyway, with the $7000 she was given by SFSU for her “academic” trip.

And then, not only did Abdulhadi not obtain academic enrichment from attendance at an academic conference, she instead used the money to meet with and show solidarity with various known terrorists in order to support those terrorists by establishing “working relationships” with Palestinian Arab activists “engaged in BDS and other efforts against the occupation.” This astounding information was not obtained through clandestine espionage. Tammi Rossman-Benjamin and her colleagues at the AMCHA Initiative, along with several other pro-Israel groups, simply read public documentation of  the funding provided to those who went on the trip with Abdulhadi. Those faculty members proudly bragged on public websites about their activities in furthering the delegitimization of Israel – paid for with taxpayer money. The fact that the trip was paid and signed for by SFSU officials was easily revealed through a California Public Information Act Request.

For example, in an event on March 6, 2014 that was advertised on the SFSU Ethnic Studies website, Prof. Abdulhadi and two other members of the “Academic and Labor Delegation to Palestine 2014” — SFSU Ethnic Studies Professor Joanne Barker and Abdulhadi’s husband Jaime Veve — discussed their trip to “the West Bank and the 1948 areas of Palestine [sic, i.e. Israel].”

In her presentation at the March 6 event, Abdulhadi called the trip to Jordan, the West Bank, and Israel, which she had led, a “political solidarity tour,” and she went on to say: “This was not ‘solidarity light,’ this was not ‘pre-Solidarity 101’.”

Prof. Barker, in her blog documenting the trip, corroborated Abdulhadi’s statement, writing that the delegation “established working relationships and furthered their solidarities with Palestinian scholars, artists, and activists engaged in BDS and other efforts against the occupation.”  The event announcement also confirmed that the purpose of Abdulhadi’s University-funded trip was not to engage in University-related business but rather to pursue her own personal political goals: to promote “resolute actions in support of the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.”

Why Abdulhadi was not required to provide documentation that the funds disbursed by the university – public funds consisting of taxpayer money – were used in accordance with the funding request is unknown. Or if, perhaps, there was documentation after the trip that was provided by Abdulhadi to SFSU, and if it did not accurately reflect the manner in which the money was used, Abdulhadi must reimburse the community funds.

For example, did the documentation reveal that the SFSU employees met with people who are known terrorists, including ones who are members of organizations on the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations?

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/california-taxpayer-money-hijacked-for-faculty-terrorist-meetings/2014/05/30/

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