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May 21, 2015 5:48 pm

UC President Napolitano Supports Adopting State Department Definition of Antisemitism

avatar by Eliezer Sherman

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UC President Janet Napolitano. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

University of California President Janet Napolitano said on Thursday that she agreed with a UC-wide condemnation of antisemitism according to the State Department definition of Jew hatred, which includes denying Israel’s right to exist.

When asked by Boston public radio’s Here and Now program whether she supported such a resolution on antisemitism, which would include demonizing, delegitimizing or applying a double to standard to the Jewish state, Napolitano said, “My personal view is that we should.”

“I think there’s a serious point raised there,” she said, adding that the issue “is actually going to be on the board of regents agenda at its July meeting.”

Campus antisemitism watchdog Amcha Initiative quickly praised the stance taken by Napolitano, who became UC president in 2013 after resigning from the department of homeland security.

“We strongly commend Janet Napolitano for joining three UC student governments and the California Senate in understanding that we must implement our government’s definition of antisemitism on campus to identify and address antisemitic behavior with the same vigor as all other forms of bigotry,” said Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, co-founder and director of Amcha, in a statement.

Amcha was one of 23 groups that sent a letter to Napolitano this week, urging the UC president to support the adoption of the State Department definition.

Napolitano’s comments came as the California state senate was quickly moving to pass a bill urging the UCs to do the same.

Student governments at UCs Berkeley, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara all adopted resolutions strongly condemning antisemitism on campus. But activism encouraging anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions measures have also increased across campuses.

UC Davis’ student senate adopted BDS measures earlier this year, though the motion was overturned by the campus court, which said the student senate had overreached..

Amcha said that antisemitic behavior has “dramatically increased” on UC campuses where anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns have been launched.

Incidents of antisemitism this past year on campuses include swastikas painted on a fraternity at UC Davis, flyers that accuse the Mossad of being behind the 9/11 terror attacks, and demonstrations by pro-Palestinian student groups that some students have said involved harassment of Jewish students.

Critics of adopting the State Department definition of antisemitism say it unfairly conflates antisemitism with opposing Israeli policies, and squashes political debate on campus.

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  • The caution needed is great. While we seek the, “Constiutionalist Halaka “, there will be needed of a reminder there are,” too many Hamans and not enough Purims”.

  • E Pluribus Wombat

    The UC system is the most officially antisemitic university system in America. Their ‘understanding’ of what antisemtism is, is in practice no different than the Nazis.


    ‘unfairly conflates antisemitism……now thats a new one too.

    there should never have been the ground to this point in american schools…….and, it is because of this that America is no longer the home of jews… longer the home to a civilized world.

    you begin with one arena and walk out with another…

  • Sivan

    As a Jew I know what an anti-semite is. I know what antiSemitism is. It is the strange symbiosis that began with the first Jew. We are the Jews and there are the haters of Jews. “You can’t have one without the o-ther”as the song goes.Am I now handing over the definition of what constitutes anti-Semitism, an ancient and inherited aspect of my multifarious Jewish identity, passed on to me by millions of dead ancestors – am I now handing that over to people who have never been at the receiving end of such Jew hatred – covert and overt? Why are we Jews allowing this authority of others – a non-Jewish authority – over the alignment of our suffering with an “objective”definition? Does this bring us relief? Do we feel more “part of”following such a dispensation? More accepted because “their” definition satisfies us to an extent? Is this not a weird kind of soul and identity prostitution?

    • as a Jew I agree with you. this is like telling African americans how they should feel when they are called names…..

      no one know what these things are like until they walk in the others shoes and experience this themselves and then have to live with those shoes on forever.

      outrages thanks bunches Janet Napolitano. what a prize.

  • I commend Ms. Napolitano for her condemnation of Anti-Semitism. The constant verbal and physical attacks on Jews all over the world are despicable. We are strong, Israel is strong and we will continue to be stalwart and resilient as we have since Biblical times.

  • Isaac Brajtman

    Good on her

  • Michael Fox

    intimidation, harassment and physical abuse of students because of their religious conviction should not be tolerated on any American campus.

  • Michael Fox

    intimidation and harassment of students specifically because of their religious convictions should not be tolerated on any American college campus.

  • Julian Clovelley

    There is a very short suggestion that applies to this and many other issues. It is “Let’s not go there”

    The State Department’s definition of antisemitism is of questionable constitutionality, and retains a European definition regarded as so dysfunctional in Europe that it was abandoned.

    In order to understand what is wrong with the State Department’s definition it is first necessary to view from outside the “Jewish Community”. For example, were it to be used to prosecute individuals, one can see one case after another ending up in the Supreme Court on a variety of grounds based on the role played by fundamental ideas “traditional Jews” take for granted, but which non Jews often sincerely do not accept.

    For example if a person says “Jews don’t exist except as a (mistaken) religious community” is he being antisemitic? After all, how can you be “against something” you do not believe exists. Thus the legal question of motivation becomes dominant, whereas the real vital question of “behaviour” becomes sidelined.

    Could such a claim of not believing Jews exist, except as an eccentric religious community, be legally justified? The answer is “yes”, because it is written into Christianity in Paul’s letters – indeed the meaning has been clarified in more recent translations using the words “There is neither Jew nor Gentile” (Galatians 3:28) – a verse everyone encounters frequently in churches and Sunday Schools. it is a very good verse – I recommend it.

    On such basis the claim that a particular act is “antisemitic” rather falls on its face – in particular in relation to the State of Israel, which is over twenty five percent Gentile in population anyway – and even more Gentile when either the Jewish residents of Palestine (the West Bank Settlers) are excluded from the count or the Palestinians, of whatever religion, are included. Such a definition claim could, in this manner, also find its way into the Supreme Court, posing the question of whether the Occupation of the West Bank is an extended Invasion to the point of being an “annexation”.

    Separating antisemitism from racism legally, via its being considered a special category is fraught with danger. Saying it is about “perception” also fails because you cannot perceive another person’s “perception”

    Racist behaviour of any kind is unacceptable. That should be enough. As for “antisemitism”, just be careful how you use the word

    For the rest “Let’s not go there!”

    • SB

      “The Christianity According to Paul” (think ‘The World According to Garp’) sometimes reads exactly like the supremacist, subversive creed that Paul intended it to be.

      Thank goodness there was another branch in the family tree: the Jerusalem church of Peter, who opposed the Roman church of Paul. [Hyam Maccoby has written extensively and convincingly on this]. Christians today can either appreciate Israel and the Jews for giving them their faith, or they can kid themselves that they did it on their own. This current Pope/Paulist seems to see Israel as expendable among the nations, much as Paul deemed the Torah and Judaism during his tenure.

    • Vartek Vuld

      @JulianClovelly “‘Jews don’t exist except as a (mistaken) religious community’ is he being antisemitic? After all, how can you be “against something” you do not believe exists.”

      The fact that you do not understand how the antisemitism of this statement shows that you are clueless and a narcissist. Judaism is a religion that has been oppressed for millennia and suffered unspeakable cruelty by other cultures that tried to wipe them out. This is one reason why your statement would be offensive to someone Jewish.

      “On such basis the claim that a particular act is “antisemitic” rather falls on its face – in particular in relation to the State of Israel, which is over twenty five percent Gentile in population anyway…”

      What is the correct percentage of non-Jews that Israel can have and still be a “Jewish” state? Since when do you get to decide that anyway? Have you ever counted the non-Muslims in Pakistan or Indonesia? How many are they allowed to have before you declare that they can no longer be Muslim states?

      “Could such a claim of not believing Jews exist, except as an eccentric religious community, be legally justified? The answer is “yes”, because it is written into Christianity in Paul’s letters…”

      America’s laws are secular and do not favor one religion over another. You can’t ‘legally justify’ something based on the Bible. The fact that I have to explain this to you is beyond belief, but I guess your level of ignorance is much greater than anyone suspects.

  • Finally she understands the prescient words of Dr Martin Luther King Jr who said in March 1968: “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking antisemitism”.

  • SHmuel HaLevi

    That’s charming. The J.F Dulles and other such SD defines what constitutes antisemitism? Napolitano must have had too much Cool Aid. Nuts!
    Much rather adhere to our own version of what constitutes antisemitism. Anyone that in any way, directly or indirectly plans or in fact harms our people, Heritage, is our mortal enemy and will be dealt with as such. The form of our self defense format in entirely defined by us. Anti-Semites must be destroyed before they carry out their plans.

  • When President Janet Napolitano was in the State Department she coveredup the illegal funding of Hamas. An Arab Terrorist group.

    • G. C. WALTER