Increasingly Blurred Lines Between Politics and Hate on Campus
Last week at UCLA, a student was nearly denied a position on the Judicial Board because she is Jewish.
We applaud the University administrator for stepping in during the meeting itself (to point out the discriminatory nature of the discussion) and appreciate Vice Chancellor Montero's letter to the Bruin afterwards. Student Body President and former Hillel student leader Avinoam Baral was also instrumental in correcting the situation. You can watch him on CBS news here
However, we continue to be deeply troubled by the increasingly blurred line between students' political objectives and hate on college campuses today.
The same group of elected student leaders who were instrumental in bringing an anti-Israel resolution to campus earlier this year felt it was appropriate to publicly question a fellow student's qualifications as a candidate because of her ethnic and religious identity. For more than 40 minutes.
The bottom line is this: free speech is cherished and protected in our community. But along with it comes with an obligation to condemn hate speech and acts of bigotry. Jews must be protected like any other religious and ethnic minority.
We are pleased that the students involved in this particular incident saw it as a learning experience and elected to apologize publicly in the Daily Bruin.
Now it's time to question whether BDS belongs on campus, especially given the way it has allowed itself to become polluted by an inability to distinguish between advocating for Palestinian rights versus freely mingling with and even sponsoring anti-Semitic speakers and events. Not to mention that it has now been determined to be primarily political in nature, and not involving student welfare.
UCLA continues to provide an extraordinarily robust opportunity for Jewish students to build an enduring commitment to Jewish Life. Students report that while BDS is troubling and discriminatory in nature, they feel safe and supported in their Jewish identities.
We wear our kippot with pride. We dance in the middle of campus on Yom HaAtzmaut. And we will continue to be the central address for disseminating the most accurate information about what's actually happening on campus as we support the UCLA Jewish community through this difficult time.
Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, Executive Director
Rabbi Aaron Lerner, Incoming Executive Director, July 2015