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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘UC’

To Protect Jewish Students, California University Committee Recommends Ban on Hate Speech

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Each year at many California universities, pro-Israel students dread the inevitable arrival of “The Wall,”—the centerpiece of Israel Apartheid Week. These programs, sometimes known as Justice in Palestine Week or Palestinian Awareness Week, usually take place sometime between late-winter and spring and focus on charges that Israel is an Apartheid state that illegally occupies Palestinian territories.

But what if the wall wasn’t allowed to go up?

Speculation on the future of anti-Israel demonstrations on University of California (UC) campuses has increased in recent weeks after a mid-July report compiled by the UC President’s Advisory Council on Campus Climate recommended that UC consider banning all hate speech from its nine campuses.

Between October 2011 and May 2012, a group of professionals handpicked by UC President Mark Yudof travelled to six UC campuses (Santa Cruz, Davis, Irvine, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and San Diego) to assess the social conditions of Jewish students as well as Arab and Muslim students.

Jewish student leaders on the campuses were interviewed by the council, which evaluated the students’ biggest concerns as Jews on campus.

A separate report, providing background and recommendations on behalf of Arab and Muslim students was also released in mid-July.

Ultimately, the council recommended that hate speech, particularly anti-Israel demonstrations, be banned because of the unsafe and uncomfortable environment that can ensue on campus.

“UC does not have a hate-free policy that allows the campus to prevent well-known bigoted and hate organizations from speaking on campus such as the KKK,” the council wrote in the report. “UC should push its current harassment and nondiscrimination provisions further, clearly define hate speech in its guidelines, and seek opportunities to prohibit hate speech on campus.”

The council recognized that such a ban, if put in place, almost certainly would lead to legal action challenging it. Already, a petition asking Yudof to table the recommendations has gathered over 2,300 signatures.

Opponents of the recommendation claim that the report, released July 9, does not consider all viewpoints of Jewish students on campuses—particularly those of Jews who are critical of Israel.

In response, StandWithUs started a counter-petition urging the UC Office of the President (UCOP) to accept and implement the recommendations outlined in the report. While the first petition targets the hate speech ban proposal, the StandWithUs petition focuses on implementation of the entire report’s recommendations which include ensuring that kosher food options be available on UC campuses and that anti-Semitism be clearly defined and banned.

The advisory council also recommended that UC staff members receive cultural competency training and that accurate data be kept on Jewish students to better evaluate their needs.

There has been mixed reaction to the report in the pro-Israel community. Sharona Asraf, a StandWithUs Emerson Fellow and board member of Tritons for Israel at UC San Diego, created a Facebook event promoting the petition and said she supports the Council’s recommendation to ban hate speech.

“This will verbalize protocol and will elaborate what the consequences are for hate speech,” Asraf said.

However, Daniel Narvy, President of Movement for Peace in the Middle East at UC Irvine, said that while he thinks hate speech should not exist, banning it on UC campuses could actually make life more difficult for pro-Israel students.

“I can promise that SJP will claim the university is Islamaphobic and complain until they get their way,” Narvy said. “Do I think the hate speech, which it clearly is, should be there? No, but the university cannot use prior restraint and just censor a club just because [some members of the club] are obnoxious .” Richard Barton, who is the national education chair for the Anti-Defamation League, co-wrote the report with Alice Huffman, president of the California NAACP. Barton defended the report in an Aug. 23 op-ed in the San Francisco Gate.

“By including an examination of the climate for Jewish students, the Campus Climate Council has truly advanced the notion of honest and critical examination that lie at the heart of the UC’s core values,” Barton wrote.

Though UCOP is not expected to finish evaluating both the Jewish and the Arab and Muslim reports until late October, Yudof noted that ensuring a right to free speech would remain a priority.

“The Council will continue to address issues for a broad range of campus community members,” Yudof said in an August 8 open letter to the UC system. “None of this is designed to stifle free speech, but rather to ensure that our campuses are welcoming to a broad diversity of students, faculty and staff.”

A first in a decade, California university allows study abroad in Israel

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

For the first time in nearly a decade, students who attend any of the 23 campuses of the California State University (CSU) system can study abroad in Israel. This fall marks the first time since 2002 that CSU students have been allowed to study at the University of Haifa.

In 2002, CSU and the University of California (UC) discontinued study abroad in Israel programs, due to warnings that had been issued by the U.S. State Department. UC reinstated its Israel study program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2009, and CSU followed suit earlier this year.

This semester, three CSU students will study at University of Haifa through the CSU International programs. The three students all are studying in Israel for the full academic year as CSU does not yet offer one-semester options in Israel.

CSU International Programs Assistant Director of Student Affairs Dana Roson said that the small number of participants in the University of Haifa option was unsurprising because the program is in its first year.

“It’s going to take some time for word of mouth to get around,” Roson said. “Study abroad alumni are the best marketing tool and we expect this program to go when this year’s participants return.”

Another possible explanation for the small number of students participating in the program is that CSU has academic restrictions on the destinations students can choose to study.

“We are a very academic program,” Roson said. “The students’ major and requirements have to line up with the academic offerings at the university abroad.”

Eran Hoch, the Israel fellow at California State University, Fullerton, said that the reintroduction of Israel study provides students with new opportunities to learn about Israeli culture from within.

“Studying in Israel with other students the same age is becoming more appealing to California students,” Hoch said. “This program is a great way for students to learn about Israel by studying like Israelis and being with other Israelis.”

Hoch said that he, along with other campus professionals at California schools, will use the new study abroad option to encourage more students to learn about Israel.

When the UC Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) reinstated its Hebrew University program in 2009, a total of 25 UC students opted to study in Jerusalem for either a semester or a full year. Ines DeRomana, UCEAP Principal Analyst for Health, Safety, and Response said that the number of 2009 program participants was actually a big drop from the program size before the option was put on hiatus.

“The Hebrew University option had been very popular before 2002,” she said. “When we brought it back, students were very interested and excited about it.”

DeRomana estimates that around 55 students were participating in the Hebrew University program in 2001, before the program went on hiatus. This year, 14 students will study in Israel for a full year or for fall semester only. DeRomana said that number will increase when figures for spring semester-only students become available.

Students at UC campuses will soon have a new option to study in Israel. Starting next fall, UC students will be able to study at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) for a semester or a full year, in addition to the Hebrew University option.

In addition to the UC system-wide study abroad program, UC Irvine (UCI) and BGU will implement an exchange program for medical school students. BGU and UCI signed a Memorandum of Understanding earlier this year after UCI Chancellor Michael Drake visited Israel on a trip arranged by the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles.

UC President Condemns On-Campus Anti-Israel Attacks

Monday, March 12th, 2012

UC President Mark G. Yudof released an open letter calling on UC students, faculty and staff members to “foster a climate of tolerance, civility and open-mindedness,” reports Angela Swartz of the California Aggie.

Yudof specifically addressed recent anti-Israel incidents on UC campuses. He denounced students who heckled speakers at a UC Davis Feb. 27 event, “Israeli Soldiers Speak Out.” He also condemned vandals on the UC Riverside campus who scrawled the word “terrorists” on an Israeli flag which the local Hillel group was displaying.

“With our Chancellors, I remain committed to the principle of balancing protection of free speech and promoting strategies to foster an environment where all students, faculty, staff members and guests can feel safe and respected — no matter their individual characteristics or viewpoints,” Yudof wrote.

An Open Letter to University of California President Mark Yudof

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Dear University of California President Yudof,

Last week, two shameful events occurred on University of California campuses that made Jewish students feel targeted, intimidated, harassed, and unsafe. We charge the UC administration with failing in their basic responsibilities – to protect Jewish students from a hostile environment and to ensure their rights to freedom of speech.

On February 27 at UC Davis, Jewish student groups sponsored the presentation of talks by two Israelis, one Jewish the other Druze. The speakers were repeatedly interrupted by hecklers, whose intent was clearly to disrupt the proceedings. Not only did a heckler hurl outrageous accusations against one of the speakers, calling him a “rapist” and “child molester,” but the heckler brazenly stated: “I will stand here and heckle you until you leave…My only purpose is that this event is shut down.” The heckler also told audience members that he was paid $50 by “Muslim students” to disrupt the event.

Twenty-four hours before the Jewish students’ event, members of the UCD Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) sent a communication to SJP supporters outlining a two-pronged strategy for shutting down the event: they would pack the room with pro-Palestinian students who would leave en masse in the middle of the event, and some students would remain to continuously heckle the Israeli speakers. Both parts of the strategy were carried out at the event, and the event ultimately had to be curtailed because of the disruption.

Besides illegally conspiring to disrupt a lawful meeting and thereby suppress the freedom of speech of the Jewish students and their speakers, members of the SJP and their supporters created a physically and emotionally hostile environment for the Jewish students. According to one eyewitness:

“As fear of physical altercations mounted, several 911 calls were made. The campus police appeared but refused to remove, reprimand, or otherwise take any action against the disrupters. The police stated they were given “orders” not to take action against the disrupters, but instead, to close down the program if it got out of hand.”

Shockingly, and in stark contrast to your repeated assertions that the University is committed to protecting the rights of free speech and ensuring the safety of all students, the campus police did nothing, and even refused to take the names of disrupters. In addition, at least two high-level UC Davis administrators were present at the event, and they, too, refused to respond to these egregious violations of University policy and state law, which left Jewish students feeling unsafe and violated.

A few days later, on February 29, SJP students at UC San Diego brought to the Associated Students Council for the third consecutive year a resolution asking the University of California to engage in a secondary boycott of Israel by divesting from American firms that do business with the Israeli Defense Forces. The resolution was defeated after seven hours, but the Jewish students and faculty who supported Israel were harassed and bullied by pro-Palestinian supporters and falsely accused of racism.

Several Jewish attendees felt targeted and threatened at the meeting: A UCSD faculty member reported that it was “emotionally difficult to bear the hatred and lies.” The president of the student group, Tritons for Israel, stated that “Jewish students feel targeted, and Jewish students don’t feel as safe or comfortable on campus.” Another Jewish student said, “ I am unsafe on this campus when there is talk of divestment…and by voting ‘yes’ you are making the campus very hostile for students who go here.” The Hillel Director stated: “Many of our students clearly suffered a traumatic blow from that experience. I witnessed the verbal assault on Jewish students and the tears that followed.” At the conclusion of the meeting, one Jewish student, concerned that other Jewish students might be physically assaulted on their way home, cautioned them to avoid walking alone.

In light of your May, 2010 statement that the University of California would not divest from Israel, the SJP resolution was a wholly symbolic gesture intended to further the well-coordinated international campaign to economically strangle the Jewish state and bring about its destruction, a campaign which the US State Department has deemed anti-Semitic. Sadly, the resolution effort revealed the utter ineffectiveness of what you had previously touted to the Jewish community as one of your “assertive” moves to address anti-Jewish bigotry.

Please understand that the student groups behind these incidents are not like other University-funded student organizations. The SJP has as its primary mission the promotion of anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaigns and others efforts to harm the Jewish state. SJP chapters on UC campuses are closely allied with Al-Awda: the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, an organization which advocates the elimination of the Jewish state and has ties to terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah that call for the murder of Jews world-wide. Many students in the SJP are also members of the Muslim Students Association (MSA), an organization founded by the Muslim Brotherhood, a virulently anti-Semitic Egyptian-based organization dedicated to instituting Sharia law and a Muslim empire throughout the world, in part by means of violent jihad. According to an NYPD police spokesman, “some of the most dangerous Western Al Qaeda-linked/inspired terrorists since 9/11 were radicalized and/or recruited at universities in MSAs,” and more than a dozen former MSA leaders and members have been convicted of terrorist activities and plots. In addition, some pro-Palestinian UC students have expressed support for the Iranian regime, whose supreme religious leader recently called for the destruction of Israel and the annihilation of all Jews. In fact, one student who participated in the disruption of the Jewish students’ event at UC Davis can be seen holding an Iranian flag in the left-hand side of a video clip of the event.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/us-news/an-open-letter-to-university-of-california-president-mark-yudof/2012/03/07/

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