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September 2, 2016 4:05 pm

Major Jewish Groups Bitterly Rebuke UCLA Over Departure of Student Leader Due to BDS Harassment

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University of California, Los Angeles campus. Photo: UCLA.

University of California, Los Angeles campus. Photo: UCLA.

The heads of major Jewish groups told The Algemeiner on Friday that they were outraged over the handling by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) of the harassment and relentless attacks against a former student leader by anti-Israel activists.

Earlier this week, now former UCLA Graduate Student Association (GSA) President Milan Chatterjee announced that he was leaving the university over the “hostile and unsafe campus climate” fostered by Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) groups and the UCLA administration.

Kenneth Marcus — president and general counsel of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law who provided legal aid to Chatterjee — told The Algemeiner, “This is a very dark day for the University of California, and a bad day for America.”

He continued: “The Milan Chatterjee affair reflects the insidiousness of the anti-Israel movement’s new strategy, which is to suppress pro-Israel advocacy and intimidate not only Jewish pro-Israel students but also anyone who even remains neutral. Good, conscientious students will be driven away from student government and replaced by extremists of the sort who victimized Mr. Chatterjee.”

Aron Hier, director of Campus Outreach for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, criticized UCLA for what he described as its “implacable and unethical approach” to the situation. “It is one thing to have the BDS movement tar and smear you,” Hier said, “But once the university chose to side against Chatterjee, it becomes too much to ask of any student to bear this responsibility. UCLA has doubled down on its wrongdoing and continues to dig the pit even deeper.” 

Hier, whose organization acted as a mediator at times between Chatterjee and UC administration, also told The Algemeiner that when raising the issue of campus antisemitism and anti-Zionism in general with UCLA, he was told by the university, “Let this be a teaching moment.”

“I ask the public at large: would any other minority group accept this answer from a university? This ethos is everything that is wrong with how the UCLA administration tackles campus antisemitism,” Hier said.

On Friday, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) issued a statement calling on the US Department of Education (DOE) to “conduct a thorough investigation” of UCLA’s conduct regarding Chatterjee.

AJC General Counsel Marc D. Stern wrote in a letter to the DOE that the leaking of a confidential university report on Chatterjee and UCLA’s subsequent actions constituted “a blatant violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).” Should UCLA be found to have violated FERPA, the university could lose federal funding.

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) — and a former instructor at UCLA’s business school — said in a statement that regardless of one’s views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “no student should have to endure the kind of bullying and vitriol [Chatterjee] describes.”

“If the allegations are true,” he said, “it is troubling that anti-Israel student activists are creating an environment where students do not feel safe.”

As reported by The Algemeiner on Thursday, Chatterjee — a third-year law student — said he had “no choice” but to leave UCLA due to the harassment he suffered at the hands of BDS groups and activists.

“It is very scary how BDS activists will go to any measure to destroy people’s reputations and careers,” Chatterjee told The Algemeiner in an interview. “UCLA should be ashamed of themselves for refusing to take action, and rather joining in the harassment I endured by BDS groups. I am not the first student nor will I be the last.”

Chatterjee — who is Indian-American and a Hindu — became the focus of a four-month investigation by the UCLA Discrimination Prevention Office (DPO) for distributing GSA funds for a November 2015 diversity event based on a stipulation that the event not officially associate itself with the BDS movement and the school’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter.

Over the course of the investigation, BDS groups began a “deadly, malicious campaign against me,” Chatterjee told The Algemeiner. “They wrote defamatory articles in the media, circulated petitions and tried to remove me as GSA president three times. A lot of venom was spread around campus against me.”

The DPO investigation concluded that Chatterjee — who said he was maintaining the GSA’s unanimous “zero engagement/endorsement policy” towards supporting any BDS-related organizations — “violated University policy requiring viewpoint neutrality,” and accused him of concocting the “zero engagement” policy.

The result of the investigation, Chatterjee told The Algemeiner, was the “straw that broke the camel’s back, adding that “the report is a clear cover-up by the UCLA administration for its own mishandling of the situation.”

“I am absolutely grateful for the support from groups like the AJC, the Louis D. Brandeis Center, the Israeli-American Council and the Simon Wiesenthal Center,” he said. Since news broke of his exit from UCLA, Chatterjee said he has received a “stream of messages from people around the world expressing their solidarity.”

Chatterjee will complete his final year of law school at New York University. UCLA has yet to respond to The Algemeiner‘s request for comment on his departure. 

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  • Samuel J. Savitz

    What makes this story so appalling is that Milan Chatterjee was acting to uphold a UCLA policy requiring neutrality on the issue for which he was being accused of violating. Fortunately, Chatterjee is receiving an outpouring of support for his principled action, and pro bona legal assistance.

  • American jews suck. They vote 80% for liberals in compliance with their nonsensical dogma to side with the oppressed. Today, clearly, whites are the oppressed. We pay ALL the bills for the cretins and they STILL hate us.
    Israeli jews are warriors. BIG difference.
    I was around American jews for 5 years for a job. They give a CRAP about Israel, in all honesty.

    • Jay

      Prejudiced much?
      Also, if you’re going to go off on a rant, please make sure you are writing in complete English sentences so others can at least understand what you are attempting to say.

  • Right before WW!! in this country, there was the German American Bund. The BDS movement has copied the Bunds agenda. The Bund was stopped by force of the so called Mafia at the time. The strong arm gangs of Mafioso broke up the meetings and inflicted heavy damage on meeting places and persons. It may be the right time to start to retaliate against the people at the head of the BDS movement. The Jewish Defense League needs to be resurrected.

    • Howard Kahan

      Ike…..Its a different world today. Its a politically correct world. Sorry to say. You cannot break heads anymore, otherwise you are right on.

    • James F. Wallace

      I didn’t know the JDL had been disbanded.

  • Fred Demarch

    UC Irvine is even worse, if thats possible, and UCSD comes in a close third to the blatant anti-Jew hate spread by leftists.

    Lets not sugar coat it- Jewish students are targeted by Muslims and some Black rights groups, in partnership with them.

    Nothing surprises me anymore, thanks to the LeftProgressive collectives doubling down to “push through the resistance” and Obama’s blatant unconstitutional abuse of Executive Power, to secure gains while they can, to hold the line on 40 years of the march through the institutions.

    Its about time Jews woke up.

  • Kochava

    Local BDS/Hamas should be arrested before the first deadly malicious threat they utter. Hamas is a terrorist organization. Again, Syracuse University faculty and visiting Israeli film maker were threatened by Hamas/BDS that they would “make matters very unpleasant” for them unless they did what Hamas/BDS dictated, namely censor an Israeli film. This is a clear threat of harm from a terrorist organization. Of course there will be no reply from UCLA to do the right thing, because they just let someone get away with the threat of murder –the very definition of terror.

  • This is an direct result of lack of activity of Jewish Leadership in the USA over many years. See a 2013 article:

    Chaterjee should be helped BY JEWISH LEADERSHIP to sue the University of California – and especially UCLA – for millions of dollars, and demand all the possible CRIMINAL penalties on all persons involved at every stage.

  • CDR

    These people at UCLA perfectly fit the definition of fools and invite God’s wrath upon themselves, for the Word says that those who curse Israel, He will curse. Shame on all of them.

  • ita

    Now that California has adooted a BDS law UCLA should be the first target. All you legal beagles time to take UCLA to task.

  • ita

    Now that California has adooted a BDS law UCLA should be thw first target. All legal beagles time to taje UCLA to task.

  • Univ. will not receive any further alumni gifts from me.
    This anti semitic is allowed is deplorable.
    This IS NOT campus freedom of speech.

  • Alice

    All Jewish students should leave UCLA en bloc as soon as possible !!!!

  • charlie k

    stop all the problems by simply with holding all jewish gifts and donations to ucla and all other universities that allow the bds bullsh-t to prevail on campuses.

  • James

    J-Street involved in driving this unfortunate student out of UCLA?

    • Hamanslayer

      If Joke Street is not directly involved, you can be sure they aren’t joining any action to respond to the BS (just leave out the D) and UCLA’S participation in promoting anti-Jewish activity. JOKE Street’s and other “Jooish” jokers support of the BS (bowel) movement has most certainly contributed tremendously go the growth of this cancer in America.

  • Susan Heller-Somerville

    I can not understand why all of the Jewish groups, who are dealing with the UCLA administratio, are not going beyond that body and instead dealing directly with the Board of Regents. The Board of Regents is over the entire University of California system and is comprised of some of the most powerful people in the state. The board includes Governor Jerry Brown. He and the entire board have eyes and ears and surely must know what has been occurring at all of the campuses. They all need to be held accountable.

  • What a shame that the haters of Israel and the Jews win in a democracy and the Jews run away instead of organizing and fighting.

    How did these Arabs and Muslim get into UCLA and what power do they have that they can get away with it. Is it the power of Saudi and the UAE and Iran?

    Jews should not have to fight while in college but their lives are in danger and wealthy Jews should organize and protect these Jews from danger and threaten their enemies with bodily harm.

    When the first Jew is murdered or the first Jewish fraternity is bombed then what?

    Stop being so weak. Learn who you are and put terror into their hearts.

  • nat cheiman

    UCLA is a disgrace to all students of whatever persuasion.
    The Islamic radicals there should be shown the door

  • Francis Figliola

    Vote with your feet and wallet. Leave UCLA to the vermin!

  • Roy Wise

    Can no legal action be taken against the university?

  • Ilbert Phillips

    It is extremely sad when a University allows itself to become a tool of the anti-Semites in the BDS movement. Does this mean that any racist group can hide behind the mantra of “freedom of speech” regardless of abusive techniques used to slander, libel, castigate and harass Jews and anyone else who supports or is neutral regarding the state of Israel? There is no fine line between the right to criticize Israel and the act of intimidating, slandering, libeling and harassing Jews, supporters of Israel and/or individuals who take no position about the Israel/Muslim conflict.

  • Howard Kahan

    I wonder what the administration spokeshole meant by “a teaching moment” This door is wide open to interpretation.

  • Linda

    I went to UCLA and I’m leaving your school nothing because of CTTERJEE’S having to leave UCLA.

  • Since we are in a Boycotting mood, perhaps it wiill work both ways, Have all Jewish students and faculty walk off and all Jewish alumni stop supporting the school

  • Jay

    I don’t understand why Jewish organizations don’t force UCLA into court. The only language institutions such as UCLA understand is when they are threatened with law suits.

  • Bravo to Mr. Chatterjee. And while maintaining one’s integrity under fire has its own rewards, he has added to that by transferring to a better law school. One would also hope that prospective employers (law firms, judges, etc.) would appreciate the value of hiring the most principled of law graduates.

  • Avi

    Wishing Mr. Chatterjee all the best! What he endured at the hands of a bunch of bigoted fascists-of-the-left is appalling.

  • Dennis

    So, what should WE do about this????

  • I’d feel the same way if I were a member of the Jewish groups which is why I stand with them.

  • Elliot Miller

    Given the anti-Israel attitude of the federal administration I would not be optimistic that the DOE will take any action, especially to cut off federal funding, but perhaps the education authorities in California could be persuaded to take action here.

  • Robert Geller

    Sue their asses, and stop sending your children there and stop funding their buildings!

  • Ron Leff

    The complete disconnect for me here is that Chatterjee called for a “zero engagement/endorsement policy” towards supporting any BDS-related organizations” and then the school chastised him because he “violated University policy requiring viewpoint neutrality,”. Isn’t his zero engagement policy toward BDS exactly a viewpoint neutrality act?

    If he would have endorsed BDS then he wouldn’t be viewpoint neutral. This is about as absurd a claim as i have ever seen. It just further proves the poison that has infected the whole California university system. Hopefully the new anti-BDS law in California will put an end to this ridiculous double standard approach taking over colleges across this country. These school’s should lose their Federal funding if they don’t get their act together.

  • stevenl

    The liberal Jews become their own victims but will nevertheless continue their absurd policy!
    NYU is already corrupted and financed by many liberal Jews! This proves my first statement.

  • judith grayson

    the administrators and board of directors and legislators should be confronted and hauled into court for enabling incitement of hate crimes against Jewish students and against students who defend Israel both Jews and non Jews. this university receives funding from federal and state agencies. on that basis alone, funding should be immediately withdrawn. in fact, any institution that enables hate crimes and the filthy spurious allegations aka blood libels should be immediately investigated and all funding withdrawn and halted permanently. administrators’ personal accountability might be useful as well in these cases. see you in court.

    • George Wong

      The UCLA Chancellor and Executive Vice Chancellor are among the most clueless and unethical administrators in the history of UCLA.

  • If it’s any consolation to Milan Chatterjee, I was recently run off the Steering Committee of the Green Party of the U.S. in part because of my longstanding opposition to BDS as well as the party’s recent decision to go socialist. It’s hard to be forced out of a leadership role but even harder to serve a PC brainwashed constituency–something I thankfully no longer have do. I trust Milan feels the same way.

  • Yaakov

    With all that has been going on at the various UC campuses, this is an issue that needs to be addressed by the president of the university.

  • Ani

    Glad there are honorable people such as Mr Chatterjee in the world. I’m sorry he was subjected to this for taking a stand. UCLA should be ashamed of themselves but I’m sure they are not. It’s not a good precedent though, driving out those who dare to oppose BDS.

  • BDS is totally anti-semitic and should be banned from all campuses.

  • art

    A brave, honest, very decent young man. Shame on the UCLA administration, it can provide a “safe space’ for bigots and silencers of debate yet refuses to provide a place for discussion of “politically incorrect” (non administration approved) ideas. Totalitarianism at its ugly reality

  • Alexander Ben-Israel

    Please continue to follow this story and expose anti-Semitism at UCLA and other campuses around the nation.

  • Lia

    May FERPA put an end to UCLA’s federal funding!

  • renate rittmer

    One wonders why the University is not being charged with hate crimes!?!