As a part-time teacher at the University of California at Irvine Department of Continuing Education since 1998 and as a gentile – I have had occasion to follow and observe the anti-Israel movement on our campus as well as other UC campuses with dismay and concern.
The recent controversy over a student- taught course being offered at UC Berkeley which will demonize Israel has convinced me that UC Berkeley as an institution is beyond redemption when it comes to tolerating the intolerance of antisemitism.
I have been involved in this issue for a decade and have personally watched and listened to the poisonous words of Islamic hate mongers like Amir Abdel Malik Ali and Abdul Alim Musa on our campus. In May of 2008, the Muslim Student Union displayed a caricature of Ariel Sharon on their mock “Apartheid Wall” which was drawn in the stereotypical style of Julius Streicher’s Der Stuermer. I personally witnessed it and photographed it. In 2010, I was present when the MSU disrupted the speech of Israeli ambassador Michael Oren. Along with people like Tammi Rossman-Benjamin of the AMCHA Initiative, I wrote letters to the UC president and UCI chancellor protesting the Jew hatred that was running rampant. I spoke before the UC Regents this past year as they were drafting a new statement of principles on tolerance that would specifically address antisemitism. I worked with other community members in Orange County to try and bring attention to the problems of campus antisemitism.
Often, we had to counter Jewish organizations that were too invested with the university and did not want the bad news to get out to the Jewish community that there were problems on campus.
While antisemitism in the US has not reached the levels we have seen in Europe, the focal point for Jew hatred in the US is on our university campuses.
Sadly, university administrators have failed to stand up to groups like Students for Justice in Palestine, who use brown shirt tactics to disrupt and intimidate anyone showing pro-Israel sentiment while promoting their antisemitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The May 18 disruption by SJP of a pro-Israel event at UC Irvine was a classic example. It not only involved “legal representatives” from the Marxist National Lawyers Guild who were attached to UCI’s law school, but it was revealed that once the event was over, the protesters marched back to the campus Cross Cultural Center – as they routinely do after disrupting Jewish events, such as the annual I-Fest every year.
For years, they have used the CCC as a staging center for these disruptions. I have protested to the university about this recurring practice to no avail. At any rate, UCI decided that a warning letter was sufficient punishment for SJP while it has refused to address the issues of the law school and CCC involvement in this incident.
After years of writing letters, I have concluded that it is doing no good. The recent UC Regents’ statement of principles on tolerance and their policy on course content (which precludes the classroom from being used to advance political agendas) are little more than scraps of paper to make it look like they are dealing with the problem. The time has come for lawsuits. The time has come for Jewish donors to stop giving money to schools that will not protect their Jewish students. The time has come for Jewish students to look elsewhere than places like UC Berkeley, which is beyond redemption, for their education.
Someday, on some US university campus, we are going to see the tragedy of a Jewish student being killed. Then administrators will wring their hands and ask how could it have happened on their campus. I, however, will not be shocked. We have been forecasting this for years.
The author is an adjunct teacher at the University of California at Irvine Department of Continuing Education.