The University of California has been too weak in its reaction to acts of anti-Semitism on its campuses, claims a letter from Jewish groups to UC President Mark G. Yudof (right).
Swastika graffiti, anti-Israel speakers who use anti-Semitic language, and harassment and
intimidation of Jewish students are increasing at the schools, including UC Irvine, states the letter dated June 28.
It is signed by leaders of such groups as the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the national governing bodies of Conservative and Orthodox Judaism, with the support of 700 UC students who signed an online petition, reports the Los Angeles Times.
The letter comes two weeks after UCI
announced that it would suspend campus privileges of its Muslim Student
Union for a year in the wake of the repeated disruption of Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren's February speech on campus. Some Jewish groups hailed that move.
But that and other incidents at UCI, including the Muslim Student Union hosting anti-Semitic speakers (check out some of the Weekly's coverage here)–as well as the off-campus “Compton Cookout” party by UC San Diego students, the spray-painting and carving of
swastikas all over UC Davis and other system-wide flaps–show not enough is being done to protect students, claim the Jewish groups.
A new UC committee has been formed to study issues of racial and religious bias, but that will not adequately address the Jewish students' concerns, claim the leaders, who called for “an explicit focus on anti-Semitism” and for UC administrators to condemn more strongly actions and speakers who they said have demonized Jews and Israel.
Yudof reportedly called the letter “a dishearteningly ill-informed rush to judgment” against the UC's response to incidents, and he reiterated that he, too, is disturbed by anti-Semitic acts on campuses. He vowed to “do everything in my power to protect Jewish and all other students from threats or actions of intolerance.”
By the way, Yudof is Jewish and his wife is the former lay president
of Conservative Judaism in North America.