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October 11, 2016 8:03 am

Head of UC Berkeley Jewish Student Union Says Antisemitic Incidents Not Treated as Seriously as Attacks on Other Minorities

avatar by Lea Speyer

The UC Berkeley campus. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The UC Berkeley campus. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Attacks against members of the Jewish community at the University of California, Berkeley are not treated with the same gravity as those against other minority groups, the head of the school’s Jewish Student Union (JSU) told the independent student-run newspaper The Daily Californian on Sunday.

JSU President Josh Woznica said that the latter “get identified and the administrations send out something and there are no questions asked… [but] a hate crime is a hate crime, and when the administration makes a statement about one thing, it should be the same statement as another thing.”

UC Berkeley, Woznica said, “has its fair share of antisemitic incidents.” However, the challenge of identifying Jew-hatred on campus is becoming increasingly muddled because many of the attacks are “masked in the form of anti-Zionism and anti-Israel activity.”

Woznica’s comments follow another recent controversy at UC Berkeley surrounding an anti-Israel course, titled, “Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis,” which, as The Algemeiner reported, was suspended and later reinstated. 

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The class — which was widely condemned by major campus watchdog groups as a classic example of antisemitic anti-Zionism — led to a worsening climate for the school’s Jewish community. As reported by The Algemeiner, days after the course was reinstated, antisemitic posters appeared on campus warning “non-Jews” against “Jewish bullies” and pro-Israel “advocates [of] a foreign state.”

An antisemitic poster at UC Berkeley. Photo: Nanette Asimov/Twitter.

An antisemitic poster at UC Berkeley. Photo: Nanette Asimov/Twitter.

Woznica said that the course syllabus “definitely [contains]…antisemitic tropes,” and expressed concern that both its sponsor and teacher are associated with the “outwardly anti-Israel group” Students for Justice in Palestine.

According to a 2015 campus watchdog report, UC Berkeley ranked second among 100 schools popular with Jewish students at which there is antisemitic activity. While Jewish students at UC Berkeley “don’t walk around feeling uncomfortable and like they can’t live a strong Jewish life,” Woznica said, there is still more work to be done.

Despite the history of antisemitism at UC Berkeley, prospective Jewish students and their parents should still consider the school an option, he said. “Look, if you’re not going to send your strong Jewish kid here, who’s going to fight the fight? We need those students to come. We can’t take 10 steps back. You’ve got to fight it full force. If Jewish students don’t come here, it could be an issue. That is precisely the thing we do need, for them to send their kids here.”

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