Anti-Jewish agitprop has been appearing with alarming frequency on the prestigious, taxpayer-funded campuses of the University of California (UC) system this academic year.
“It’s not a big deal to hate the Jews,” Potasnik added. “The first group to get attacked is the Jews.”
Some observers believe the instances of rank anti-Semitism are related to a campus climate which is favorable to boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement campaigns and various advocacy groups which criticize Israel and promote a free and sovereign Palestine. This atmosphere, those observers say, could be creating the intellectual conditions necessary for the acts of anti-Semitism to occur.
“There really is an egregious double standard that, from the perspective of many Jewish students, is perceived as discriminatory towards them,” Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a Jewish Studies professor at the University of California, Davis and founder of the pro-Jewish AMCHA Initiative, said in an interview with The Daily Caller.
The line at which propaganda against Israel became anti-Semitism may at times be a blurry one. Pretty clearly, though, several incidents on the taxpayer-funded campuses of the University of California system this academic year have crossed well into the realm of hostility against Jews.
University of California, Berkeley. In March, someone spray-painted “Zionists should be sent to the gas chamber” in a university bathroom. And shortly thereafter, a swastika was found on a university-owned building.
This incident ensued amidst a contentious BDS campaign targeted against a Berkeley student group, “Tikvah: Students for Israel.” The group openly states its aim “advocating for Zionism.”
Berkeley student senator Ori Herschmann, the author of a student government bill that called upon UC Berkeley to condemn antisemitism, spoke about these incidents with The Daily Caller.
Anti-Semitism “is brushed off,” Herschmann said. He meant that statement literally.
“A lot of times,” “students don’t even know about [the antisemitic graffiti] because it’s just scrubbed off.”
University of California, Los Angeles. In February, a student government member interrogated a UCLA Judicial Board candidate on whether or not she was qualified for the position and if she was capable of being impartial as a Jew.
A video clip of the strange line of questioning was posted to YouTube after judicial board the elections. “Given that you are a Jewish student and very active in the Jewish community, given that recently [inaudible] has been surrounding cases conflict of interest,” the council member interrogated, “how do you see yourself being able to maintain an unbiased view?”
As the Los Angeles Daily News has noted, no member of any other group at UCLA except for a Jewish person has faced questions about whether a particular ethnic characteristic would unduly influence what amounts to actions on a student council.
University of California, Davis. Following the BDS-initiated debate over the divestment of companies from doing business in Israel, a group of pro-Hamas students cornered Jewish students as they exited a student government meeting and taunted them by chanting “Allahu akbar!” — a phrase often chanted by Islamic terrorists meaning “Allah is the greatest.”
In addition, UC Davis student senator Azka Fayyaz posted provocative statements on Facebook. “Hamas and Sharia law have taken over UC Davis. Brb crying over the resilience,” Fayyaz joyfully proclaimed as reported by The Clarion Project. “Israel will fall insha’Allah (if Allah wills).”
Less than a week later, spray-painted swastiskas appeared on the outside of the Jewish fraternity house, Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi), and on the bathroom walls of the local Hillel House.
“This whole week has … been not a great week to be a Jewish student on campus.” Alpha Epsilon Pi vice president Nathaniel Bernhard observed in an interview with the Sacramento Bee.
Aggies for Israel, the UC Davis pro-Israel student organization, also responded to the anti-Semitic vandalism on its Facebook page. “Over forty AEPis showed up to the Divestment meeting yesterday and walked out,” a group member wrote. “AEPi was clearly targeted.”
University of California, Santa Cruz. In January, Tyler Gregory, an activist with a program called “A Wider Bridge on Campus” was invited by the Hillel staff to the UC Santa Cruz campus to speak about LGBT life in Israel. Gregory said he hoped “to engage LGBT students with Israel through the experiences of Israeli LGBT people.”
After a slew of protests from BDS proponents, the university was forced to move the event to a different location out of fear for the safety of Gregory and the student attendees.
The move did not stop the protesters who arrived at the new location to attempt to drown out the pro-LGBT and pro-Israel speaker. Protesters busted into the event chanting, “Long live the Infitada!”
University of California, Santa Barbara. In the fall of 2014, fliers appeared around campus declaring that Jews were responsible for the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The anti-Semitic fliers were put up to greet students as they arrived on campus for the 2014-15 academic year.
“9/11 was in an inside job,” the flier read, accompanied by a Star of David. “Educate yourself.”
While there is no evidence that any particular student group distributed these fliers, UC Santa Barbara continues to have reported issues of anti-Semitic hatred on campus.
Over 150 California rabbis, faculty and students have appealed to UC President Janet Napolitano with letters and petitions signed by nearly 700 UC professors and alumni to do more to formally adopt the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism, which would further condemn the anti-Semitic behavior.
“People of good faith can disagree on the Israeli-Palestinian issue,” 104 UC faculty wrote, “However, [it] is no excuse to cross the line into Jew hatred.”
The Board of Regents will be voting on the matter in July.