The UC Regents affirmed this in 2016 by adopting the Principles Against Intolerance, which specifically prohibit “anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism”.
Yet over the past few weeks, we continue to see examples of targeting Jews and Israel in ways that our university community would never allow against other minority communities.
For instance, last night, UCLA’s newly elected USAC (undergrad student gov’t) condemned Chancellor Block, claiming that he was “without evidence” when he expressed concern that last year’s anti-Israel conference here would engage in anti-Semitism.
Also on campus this past week, a notorious guest lecturer from San Francisco State equated Zionism with White Supremacy. Not only is this defamatory, it willfully conflates victim with villain. This is particularly offensive in close proximity to the recent murder of an UCLA alumna and mother of a current student, Lori Gilbert-Kaye who was gunned down at a Poway Chabad by a White Supremacist.
Incidentally, Daily Bruin coverage of the tragedy in Poway excluded the words “Jew,” “Jewish,” “anti-Semitism,” and “white supremacist” – a decision by Daily Bruin’s Editorial Board that was called out by Ha’am in an op-ed.
I am generally the opposite of alarmist, having argued numerous times that episodes of anti-Jewish bigotry are the exception to the rule. However, there is an undeniable pattern emerging from marginal yet influential faculty and student leaders who are blind to Jew hatred. We must call attention to it and combat it so as to prevent the potential of mainstream acceptance.
We are working diligently with a coalition of more than 25 campus and community partners to address this phenomenon on campus. Official complaints have been filed with the university, and students are being advised of their rights.
While there is no panacea, we can and will hold bigots accountable. We can and will combat falsity. And we can and will educate, build relationships, engage in year long pro-Israel programming, and take student leaders to Israel to experience it for themselves.
Furthermore, you can demand that UCLA provide an update on their plan to implement the UC Regents Principles Against Intolerance and hold faculty responsible for violations of viewpoint neutrality, academic intimidation, and other university policies.
We must all increase our efforts to build bridges with other communities. We empower our students to listen and ask more than they talk. To fight injustice wherever it exists – from Pittsburgh, to New Zealand, to Sri Lanka. And to lead with their Jewish values in all spaces – Jewish and otherwise.
This is a communal problem that can only be resolved with everyone taking action.
Thank you for your alliance with and support of our Jewish Bruin community and Jewish life at UCLA.
Rabbi Aaron Lerner
Executive Director, Hillel at UCLA