There’s little or no good news on the campuses of major California universities when it comes to officially tolerated anti-Semitism.
For a short time, it appeared UC Berkeley might do something constructive, cancelling a student-taught one-unit course whose syllabus essentially advocated erasing the state of Israel and its Jewish citizenry.
Called “Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis,” this class was resurrected less than a week after it was declared dead. It is now being taught by an undergraduate member of the anti-Israel group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). Its one-sided political orientation was clear and never denied, even though academic officials said it was sanitized before its revival. But the youthful instructor says no, there’s been no real change – just some scurrilous statements changed to questions.
Like most of the movement to boycott Israel, divest from companies doing business there and sanction the world’s only Jewish state (known as BDS), this class is less about settlements (often built on land bought from prior Arab owners) and more about the hate that’s spurred Palestinian terrorist attacks on Jews around the world and not only in Israel or the West Bank. (Example: The Goldenberg Deli in Paris was bombed so often the space is now a men’s clothing store. All that’s left of Goldenberg is an awning.)
When its syllabus contained declarations of supposed wrongdoing by the Jewish state, the Berkeley class was in clear violation of the UC Regents’ policy on course content, which forbids using classrooms for political indoctrination. Making those statements into supposed questions for discussion changed nothing real, but satisfied weakling administrators.
Meanwhile, no one in authority appeared to notice that the syllabus violated the university’s six-month-old policy against bigotry by trying to defame and delegitimize the Jewish state in ways that fit squarely with the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism.
So the vaunted new policy lacks teeth.
Things are not rosy at UCLA, either. Last year’s student government president, law student Milan Chatterjee, transferred to New York University after a brouhaha over his refusal to allow $2,000 in student government funding for a town hall event to be sponsored by the UCLA Diversity Caucus. Some claim that caucus is a front for the local SJP chapter.
Chatterjee, an Indian-American of Hindu faith, told the caucus his student government administration would not sponsor “a position that will alienate a significant portion of students.” So, he said, there would be no money unless the event was not associated with the BDS movement, which often spouts openly anti-Semitic rhetoric at UCLA and other campuses.
Anti-Jewish groups led by SJP then campaigned to censure Chatterjee. Later, UCLA’s Discrimination Prevention Office concluded that his refusal of funds if the event was to be BDS-linked violated a university policy calling for impartiality. Huh?
Chatterjee, 27, wrote Chancellor Gene Block that he was “leaving UCLA due to a hostile and unsafe campus climate.”
Elsewhere, San Francisco State University continues a “partnership” with the terrorist-linked Al-Najah University in the Palestinian West Bank.
San Francisco State President Leslie Wong has not acted on demands to cancel the arrangement, one university spokeswoman saying the school has many such understandings. “The purpose … with each of these international universities is to provide our students and faculty the opportunity to broaden their own intellectual landscape… Partnerships are initiated by faculty members based on their academic interests.”
This one was set up by Rabab Abdulhabi, an ethnic studies professor and founding member of a national campaign to boycott Israeli universities and academics. She apparently did not care that activists in Hamas, the U.S.-designated terrorist Islamist group that rules the Gaza Strip and advocates eradicating Israel, hold half the student council seats at Al-Najah.
Or that the back cover of one Al-Najah “information kit” featured 19 “shaheeds” – deceased suicide bombers.
Should Californians’ tax and tuition dollars go toward a relationship with this university, which the director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy calls a hotbed of “terrorist recruitment…and radicalization of students?”
It all makes a sad picture. No UC student has been punished for campus anti-Semitic activity in years, while fear forced Chatterjee from UCLA.
So far, UC’s new policy is mere words; it has not been used for anything. Which means California universities are doing little or nothing so far to curb their plague of anti-Semitic bigotry.
Thomas D. Elias writes the syndicated California Focus column.