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May 7, 2015 7:48 pm

Chilling College Reports Highlight Rising Antisemitism on University of California Campuses

avatar by Eliezer Sherman

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The UCSB Divest group gathers on campus. Photo: UCSB Divest Facebook Page

As the school year nears its end, two articles concerning antisemitism on University of California campuses highlighted concerns of a growing trend.

The first article, published by The College Fix on Wednesday, documents instances of antisemitism at UC Santa Barbara, such as a protest wall that condemned so-called Israeli “apartheid,” which was constructed ahead of a student vote on measures to divest from Israel.

The report from UCSB also provided chilling testimony from one student, junior Margaux Gundzik, who was present at the run-up to the vote: “In those eight hours, I was told that Jews control the government, that all Jews are rich, that Zionism is racism, that the marginalization of Jewish students is justified because it prevents the marginalization of other minority groups, that Israel sterilizes its Ethiopian women (this is obviously not true), and that Palestinians in America who speak out against Israel are sought out by the IDF and denied entrance into Israel (also a ridiculous conspiracy theory).”

The Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law co-authored a report on antisemitism across U.S. campuses in 2014, and its president, Attorney Kenneth L. Marcus, told The Algemeiner that until the BDS measure, his organization had been “hearing very little from UC Santa Barbara.”

“Unfortunately, the [boycott, divestment and sanctions] resolution … changed all of that,” he said.

The UCSB report called the antisemitism on display on campus a “microcosm of sorts, of the larger issue at hand.”

That larger issue is highlighted by the second report, in UCLA’s Daily Bruin, which discusses the opposition to a State Senate bill aiming to condemn antisemitism and racism on UC campuses.

Certain groups, such as the pro-BDS Los Angeles chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and the Jewish Voice for Peace, criticized the measure for applying the State Department definition of antisemitism, which they said was too broad.

“Lumping criticisms of Israel with those who carry swastikas takes away the credibility of Israeli people when they are actually faced with antisemitic situations,” said John Lafferty, the head of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.

The issue appears to be the question of when anti-Israel political acts become antisemitism, and what the criteria would be for determining such situations.

“You have to have a careful test toward distinguishing between anti-Israel activity that is purely political and that which crosses the line into antisemitism,” said Marcus.

The State Department’s definition of antisemitism includes, “Applying double standards by requiring of it [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nations” and “Multilateral organizations focusing on Israel only for peace or human rights investigations.”

The measure, proposed by Sen. Jeff Stone (R-Murrieta), passed the Senate Education Committee last week, and says antisemitism is on the rise both globally and on college campuses nationwide.

The Brandeis Center report on campus antisemitism, co-authored with Trinity College, said at least 54 percent of college students have experienced antisemitism on campus this past year.

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