CHICO, Calif., May 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Board of Directors of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East commends the courage and moral clarity recently displayed by Mark Yudof, President of the University of California. Exercising the freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment, he has publicly deplored anti-Semitic rhetoric on campus, specifically that of the Muslim Students Union at UC Irvine.
In sharp contrast, Michael Drake, MD, Chancellor of UC Irvine, has refused to speak out on this issue despite repeated requests from Jewish students, organizations, and even a member of the U.S. Congress.
The University of California is one of the largest and most prestigious state systems of higher education in the United States, with 10 campuses including UCLA and UC Berkeley. Unfortunately, UC Irvine has become notorious for virulently anti-Israel/anti-Semitic week-long happenings that have been conducted every year since 2001 by the Muslim Students Union. At these events, speakers use classic racist stereotypes and demonize Israel and Jews by calling them Nazis. During the weeks before and during these events, public space is filled with propaganda, Israeli flags desecrated with blood and swastikas, and an “apartheid wall” erected in the middle of the campus. This year, the face of Anne Frank wearing a keffiyah was superimposed on a mural of an Israeli tank, desecrating the memory of the Jewish holocaust victim.
This year, the MSU also used the official UC Irvine electronic billboard to advertise what is now a two-week series of anti-Israel events entitled Israel: the Politics of Genocide. This offensive advertisement was taken off the billboard only after concerned community members brought it to the attention of UC President Yudof.
In a letter to the individuals who raised those concerns, President Yudof stated:
As you can imagine, it is difficult for me to separate my public role as President of a state university from my private life as a Jewish man who is active in Jewish causes and a strong defender of Israel. Permit me now to remove my cap and gown and to exercise my First Amendment rights as a private citizen. In my opinion, the title of the series is virulent, historically inaccurate, and offensive to Jewish people everywhere. For me to feel otherwise would be antithetical to my life and beliefs.
The Board of Directors of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, representing 27,000 academics worldwide at over 2000 campuses, believes that President Yudof has shown the world what academic freedom and integrity look like, carried out his responsibilities as UC President with distinction, and proudly exercised his rights as a human being in a country that honors those rights. We hope that the Chancellor of UC Irvine as well as the leaders of many other campuses will follow his example.