By NativeForeigner (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

By NativeForeigner (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Jewish groups ask for changes in anti-Semitism definition in the University of California school system.

Several Jewish organizations have petitioned the University of California to update its definition of anti-Semitism, The Jerusalem Post reports.

The organizations, which included the Zionist Organization of America and Jewish fraternity AEPI, reached out to University of California regent Bruce D. Varner to include in the definition “the delegitimization of Israel.” They also offered that, perhaps, the University system should adopt the definition that the State Department uses.

Another possibility is adopting the “three D’s” as presented by Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky: “efforts to demonize, delegitimize and apply double standards to Israel qualified as anti-Semitism.”

Recent events on University of California campuses have led to the discussion. “As you know, campus debate on Israel is increasingly slipping into anti-Semitism,” stated the letter crafted by the coalition of Jewish organizations.

Examples of Discrimination:
  • At the University of California, Berkeley, somebody wrote “Zionists should be sent to the gas chamber” on a bathroom wall.
  • A Jew was not given a job at her university’s student union because of her religion.
  • Swastikas were painted on a Jewish fraternity house at the University of California, Davis.

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, speaking on behalf of the AMCHA Initiative, a group that combats anti-semitism and protects Jewish students on America’s college campuses, says that anything that the regents of the ten University of California schools votes on would not become policy, but instead “an expression of their collective will.”

She also said that they in no way want to infringe upon students’ First Amendment rights to free speech, but they definitely want to encourage universities to “identify anti-Semitism and work toward addressing it, as they do all other forms of bigotry such as racism and homophobia.”

The issue is complex, including the definition of what it means to be Jewish and how all of this ties in with the state of Israel. As such, any vote has been pushed back to September as facts are gathered.


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