ANALYSIS: California is the eye of the Jew-hating storm ravaging campuses
California is the vanguard for the ideological rationalization of anti-Semitism. Its progressive regime imposes it on students from K-12 through higher education.
The Ivy League is making headlines for the most vitriolic examples of anti-Semitism in recent weeks, but elite Northeastern universities do not hold a monopoly on hatred. To understand how Jew-hatred festers underneath the surface of polite society before exploding into crashing waves of public rage, look to California.
California has a deep history of leftist activism that makes it the epicenter of anti-Semitism’s strength. Its radical political tradition is the eye of the storm that feeds the bands of hate and discrimination stretching across the country.
Within the state, that hate manifests as University of California, Davis, Assistant Professor Jemma Decristo threatened Jewish journalists with home invasion, kidnapping, and murder. It manifests as Stanford University Lecturer Ameer Hasan Loggins rounding up Jews in his class to shame them publicly.
The Left Coast is the vanguard for the ideological rationalization of Jew-hatred, and packages that anti-Semitism in Ethnic Studies curriculum, which the state’s progressive regime imposes on students from K-12 through higher education.
What is Ethnic Studies, and how deceptively hateful is it?
It is a field of study that originated at San Francisco State University in the 1960s. Ethnic Studies examines different ethnicities from the Marxist perspective that history progresses via conflict between oppressors and oppressed. It is an invasive species in American education that dilutes critical thinking skills and heightens social division while being quintessentially Californian.
Ethnic Studies is anti-Semitic because its false oppressor-oppressed binary reduces the Jewish people and the state of Israel to beneficiaries of vehicles for white supremacy, respectively.
Its fraught ideological crusade to decolonize American culture conceals the fact that both Judaism and Israel are multiracial entities. Talk to an Ethnic Studies professor for a whole day about Israel, and you’ll never learn that quite a lot of Jews are non-white. Mizrahi Jews are Arab and Persian. Many now live in Israel after they were forced out of other Middle Eastern countries for being Jews. Others are Sephardic, who are of North African and Iberian origin. Arabs, Africans, Druze, and Bedouins proudly serve in the Israel Defense Forces.
The average American would likely have a hard time telling an Israeli apart from a Palestinian based on skin color alone. The left’s manipulative narratives on Western white supremacy and racial privilege disintegrate when applied to Middle Eastern geopolitics. But an Ethnic Studies professor would never admit their egocentric Western bias.
In 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom struck down the UC system’s proposal to make ethnic studies a prerequisite because it was too offensive to Jewish students. He vowed that it would “never see the light of day.”
Four years earlier, students from the Muslim Student Union, Black Student Union, and Students for Justice in Palestine (the same group now calling for Intifada on multiple campuses) stormed a pro-Israel student group event at UC Irvine and drove at least one student into hiding. The incident was Ethnic Studies in action: the coordinated exclusion and targeting of Jews by practitioners of radical identity-based politics.
In 2022, Campus Reform reported on the controversy and quoted faculty who dismissed fears of ethnic studies’ bigotry against Jewish students as a “lie.”
On Oct. 16, the University of California’s Ethnic Studies Faculty Council published a letter condemning Israel and shaming colleagues for labeling Hamas a terrorist organization.
This letter came out after a statement signed by dozens of students and professors from Ethnic and Gender Studies programs at UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, and UC Irvine, that criticizes people in the university system and media who perpetuate the “victimization of Israeli women and children.” These California Ethnic Studies academics, who see the raped and murdered as fair game for Hamas, refuse to call the group terrorist and insist its members are “freedom fighters.”
Last month, instructors at both UCLA and UC Berkeley offered their students extra credit for participating in anti-Israel activism. They did this after a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion fellow at UC Santa Cruz took to X immediately after the Hamas attacks to celebrate, stating “this is what I mean” as a double-down of her pro-terrorism commitments.
How does Ethnic Studies affect higher education across the United States?
The field of study has catalyzed initiatives to decolonize curriculum and programming on college campuses, and activist professors and students take that zeal to the rest of American society as they attempt to decolonize American culture.
What does decolonization look like?
Decolonization is the overthrowing, the doing away with, the throwing out, of the purported oppressor.
In October, anti-Semitic protesters at Cooper Union in New York City trapped a group of Jewish students in the library as they banged violently on the door. One protester waved a sign that read “Please Keep the World Clean” with an image of the Star of David in the trash can.
A 2019 article in the Texas Education Review explains how Ethnic Studies, as a field, contributes to the production of the “decolonial imaginary”. Imagining decolonization was all well and good for those who were okay with theoretical examples of violent overthrow. But now the world sees it put into practice against toddlers and mothers, the public and some university officials are unjustifiably shocked by what radical professors have been teaching for the last two generations.
A new poll shows that 32% of college students either consider the Hamas attacks “justified” or deny it was an act of terrorism. They want to throw out the Jews because they falsely see the ethnoreligious minority as the harbinger of colonizing white supremacy.
On Oct. 30, pro-Hamas students at Florida State University rallied against Israel, chanting the genocidal refrain “From the river to the sea Palestine will be free” which imagines Jews being tossed into the ocean. It is the anthem of decolonization radicals who see Israel as “the art of Western imperialism and colonialism,” to quote the student group’s ring leader.
Ethnic Studies-inspired anti-Semitic campus activism is a multicultural menagerie of students who absolve violence against Israeli civilians and their threats toward Jewish classmates by virtue of their dark skin.
On Oct. 16, New York University student Yazmeen Deyhimi was outed after video footage captured her tearing down posters of Israeli hostages posted on campus. Once exposed, Deyhimi apologized and blamed her hateful actions on being a “brown woman.”
Her excuse, while pitiful, illustrates the core underlying lie of California’s Ethnic Studies and the leftist activism it inspires under the umbrellas of multiculturalism, intersectionality, and social justice.
Deyhimi said she operated anger and uncertainty over her “place as a biracial brown woman, especially during these highly volatile times.”
The Oct. 7 terrorist attacks proved progressives wrong. The world cannot be split between the false binaries of oppressor and oppressed, white and non-white, colonizer and colonized.
So what did Deyhimi do?
Like a programmed machine unable to process contradicting information, she apparently short-circuited and ripped down the posters because no educator had given her the critical thinking skills, knowledge, or compassion to process what happened when Palestinian terrorists raped Jewish girls, beheaded Jewish men, and took Holocaust survivors hostage.
Ironically, Deyhimi had worked for the Anti-Defamation League. From that experience, she had an awareness of Jewish suffering. But the American higher education system is so broken that it does not give people like Deyhimi the cognitive tools to make sense of what they experience.
I suspect something similar happened with Ibrahim Bharmal, a law student at Harvard University who days ago apparently assaulted a Jewish student on campus for being Jewish.
Jew-hatred is present everywhere geographically and across the political spectrum. But to understand how anti-Semitism on the far left gathers strengths and metastasizes like cancer throughout the country, follow the path back to California.
Bharmal received his undergraduate degree from Stanford University, which praised him for his “compassion and humility.” When a higher education system sees bigots like Bharmal only as compassionate and humble, there is an institutionalized problem with the people and ideas being sanctioned and promoted.
Over 100 university presidents have signed a declaration that forms a “coalition standing with Israel against Hamas.” Not one representative from a University of California or California State University institution endorsed the measure.
Editorials and op-eds reflect the opinion of the authors and not necessarily that of Campus Reform or the Leadership Institute.