Last week, a UC Regents working group released a proposed set of Principles Against Intolerance, created in response to a series of anti-Semitic incidents on UC campuses. On March 23, the Regents will vote on whether to officially adopt those principles. Controversially, the document not only condemns anti-Semitism, but also anti-Zionism.
We asked UC faculty members to argue for and against the statement. Read the opposing view here.
As a professor at UCLA since 1969 and a witness to the rapid deterioration of our campus climate, I believe the working group’s statement is a genuine attempt to deal with a lingering problem that has caused Jewish students and their allies a great deal of agony, interfered with their studies and severely tarnished the reputation of our university system.
Some critics, including the Los Angeles Times editorial board, object to the statement because “it conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism.”
That’s not the case. A careful reading reveals that exactly the opposite is true; the statement explicitly separates the two issues, saying: “Anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California.”
The statement, in other words, condemns anti-Zionism not because it closely mimics anti-Semitism, but on its own terms — and rightly so.
Anti-Semitism targets Jews as individuals; anti-Zionism targets Jews as a people. Anti-Semitism would deny Jews equal standing as human beings; anti-Zionism would ban Israel from equal membership in the family of nations.
If we examine anti-Zionist ideology closely, we see that its aims are: to uproot one people, the Jewish people, from its homeland, to take away its ability to defend itself in sovereignty, and to delegitimize its historical identity. It is racist and fundamentally eliminationist.
Existing UC guidelines opposing anti-Semitism are grossly inadequate in curbing the current wave of anti-Jewish hostilities on campuses, which by and large are directed not against those who practice their religion but against those suspected of supporting Israel.