Anti-Semitic sentiments run rampant within Univ. of California system

A controversial resolution was passed at the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) in November urging administration to divest from Israel, but reports show an initial 2014 vote passed with an illegal suspension of voting laws. More than half of the schools in the University of California (UC) system, however, have now passed similar resolutions after a slew of anti-Semitic incidents occurred across the system in 2015.

In May of 2014, the Student Union Assembly (SUA) at UCSC passed a divestment resolution known as the University Socially Responsible Investment Resolution (USRIR), which urged administration to cut ties with five companies that help fund the Israeli military. After the vote, SUA Chair Shaz Umer launched a 17-day investigation into the legality of the resolution’s passage.

The investigation showed that a member of the SUA allegedly motioned to suspend a bylaw requiring a two-thirds majority vote after USRIR failed to pass during an initial round of voting. The motion to lower the threshold passed by a two-thirds majority and the resolution was voted on again. USRIR, now only needing a simple majority, passed 22-14-1.

Umer, however, ruled the bylaw had been unjustly suspended and declared the resolution’s passage invalid.

Last November, the SUA voted to appeal Umer’s nullification and reinstate the resolution. The resolution, once again, was passed under controversial circumstances after a Jewish member of the SUA was pressured to abstain from the vote.

Student representative Daniel Bernstein was pressured to skip the vote because of concerns he was elected to the SUA by a “Jewish agenda.” Bernstein, who represents Stevenson College in the SUA, received a message from the chair of the Stevenson student council informing him the council had voted to exclude him from the upcoming vote over concerns that “the Jewish community rallied with [Bernstein] to elect [him] the Stevenson rep.”

[RELATED: UCSC student gov’t votes to divest from Israel, pressures Jewish rep. to abstain]

Stanley Traub, the Vice President of Slugs for Israel, told Campus Reform he thinks the vote was passed with a “strong Anti-Semitic sentiment.”

“I condemn the divestment vote because it has already brought upon an Anti-Semitic climate to UC Santa Cruz,” Traub said. “I have seen posts on social media after the vote was passed such as ‘Hitler did nothing wrong’ as well as various other Holocaust-associated ‘jokes’,” Traub said.

Campus Reform, in its initial report, confirmed the veracity of the Anti-Semitic social media posts.

The UC system has been hit with a string of Anti-Semitic allegations over the past several months, after swastikas and Anti-Semitic graffiti surfaced on many of the UC campuses. Early last year, two swastikas were sprayed onto the walls of a Jewish fraternity house at UC Davis. The swastikas appeared a day after the Associated Students of UC Davis passed a divestment resolution asking UC regents to sever connections with Israel.

In February, a second act of Anti-Semitic graffiti was reported at UC Davis. Davis police reported that an unknown person wrote “grout out the Jews” on the walls of another on-campus Jewish household. Again, in October, UC Davis police found eight cars parked on campus with racial slurs etched into the hoods, including “Fuck Jews” and numerous swastikas.

“Zionists should be sent to the gas chamber” was scrawled onto the sidewalks at UC Berkeley. Fliers blaming Jews for 9/11 were distributed at UC Santa Barbara. They alleged “9/11 was an outside job” and “9/11 was Mossad,” referring to Israel’s intelligence agency.

One student at UC Los Angeles (UCLA) was told she could not serve on a student government subcommittee because of her Jewish heritage. Rachel Beyda, a Jewish woman at UCLA, was rejected from the Student Council’s Judicial Board after student government member Fabienne Roth asked Beyda: “Given that you are a Jewish student and very active in the Jewish community, how do you see yourself being able to maintain an unbiased view?” The council, after a discussion captured on video, voted to reject Beyda’s nomination.

In response to the surplus of hate-crimes across the UC system and the recent divestment resolution, UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal issued a statement obtained by Campus Reform to all students, faculty, and staff.

“I am convening my Chancellor's Diversity Advisory Council to discuss the climate for Jewish students on campus. The council has advocated for African American students, LGBT students, and the disabled members of our community, among others,” Blumenthal said, acknowledging the many diversity initiatives that have been put in place for black students and LGBT students. However, Blumenthal confirmed the SUA had the right to pass the resolution, even though some students on campus have called it “Anti-Semitic.”

In addition, more than 30 professors in the UC system wrote a letter to the UC regents in support of divesting from Israel after the resolution was passed at UC Davis.

“Divestment is one of few widely accepted means by which civil society can influence global politics. We deplore the attempts to disguise this broad struggle as local identity politics that can thereby be dismissed, as well as the university administrators’ concomitant failure to secure a campus environment that is safe and equitable for all without fear of harassment and intimidation,” the letter states.

According to the letter, six other student governments have passed divestment resolutions in the past year.

Campus Reform reached out to representatives in the UC system’s Office of Communications to ask if any students have been charged for the hate crimes but received no response by press time.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AGockowski