Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Letters Sent to UC President Janet Napolitano re: Anti-Semitism on UC Campuses

This week, two letters have been sent to University of California President Janet Napolitano, one from 104 UC faculty and the other from 57 rabbis asking her to take positive action against the problem of anti-Semitism on UC campuses. (The faculty letter was drafted by AMCHA Initiative co-founder and UC Santa Cruz lecturer of Hebrew , Tammi Rossman-Benjamin and Yours Truly. Naturally, we have both signed it as well.)


Dear President Napolitano and the Board of Regents,

Please see attached letters from 57 California rabbis and 104 UC faculty members regarding antisemitism on UC campuses.

Thank you for your consideration of their letters.


Tammi Rossman-Benjamin
UC Santa Cruz, Lecturer
AMCHA Initiative, Co-founder

Cc:  California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson
California Senator Carol Liu, Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Education
California Assembly Member Jose Medina, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Higher Education
California Assembly Member Shirley Weber, Chair of the Select Committee on Campus Climate
California State Senator Marty Block, Chair of Legislative Jewish Caucus

May 18, 2015

President Janet Napolitano
Office of the President, 
University of California
1111 Franklin St., 12th Floor
Oakland, CA  94607

Board of Regents
Office of the Secretary and Chief of Staff to the Regents
1111 Franklin St., 12th Floor
Oakland, CA  94067

Dear President Napolitano and the Board of Regents, 

We are 57 rabbis who are deeply concerned about the safety and well being of Jewish students at the University of California.  We hail from across the State of California and represent diverse streams of Judaism. Many of us, and many of our congregational members, send our children to UC schools and/or are alumni of the UC system, and we are all California taxpayers. 

We echo the concerns of the AMCHA Initiative-led coalition of 23 organizations who have written to you recently regarding antisemitism on UC campuses. We, too, commend you for your statement against antisemitism, and we applaud the students at UCLA, UC Berkeley and UC Santa Barbara for their resolutions condemning antisemitism. 

We agree with the 23 organizations that in order to fully meet the needs of Jewish students facing antisemitsm and to address the root causes of antisemitism in the UC system, the University of California must, first and foremost, formally adopt the U.S. State Department’s definition of antisemitism as a means of accurately identifying all forms of antisemitic expression on UC campuses. 

In addition, we, too, believe that it is essential for campus administrators and staff to be trained in using the State Department definition to identify antisemitic behavior and to address it with the same promptness and vigor as they do other forms of racial, ethnic, and gender bigotry and discrimination. It is also important to educate the entire campus community about anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish discrimination.

Defining antisemitism formally and educating administrators and the student body about anti-Jewish discrimination are critical steps to ensuring antisemitism will be appropriately addressed both now and in the future, throughout the entire UC system. 

Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter. We appreciate your actions to protect Jewish students at the University of California.


Rabbi David Adatto, Shaarey Yerushalayim, Valley Village
Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, Rabbinic Council of California,  Los Angeles
Rabbi Arye Berk, Adat Shalom Synagogue, Los Angeles
Rabbi Michael Berk, Beth Israel, San Diego
Rabbi Allan Berkowitz, Rabbinical Assembly, San Jose
Rabbi Allen B. Bennett, Retired, San Francisco
Rabbi Joshua Bittan, Em Habanim,Valley Village
Rabbi Zvi Boyarski, Aleph Institute, Los Angeles
Rabbi Richard Camras, Shomrei Torah Synagogue, West Hills
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner, Beth Jacob, Irvine
Rabbi Jennifer Clayman, Congregation Beth Am, Los Altos Hills
Rabbi Moshe Cohen, Aish HaTorah Jerusalem, Los Angeles
Rabbi Lavey Derby, Peninsula Jewish Community Center, Foster City
Rabbi Shoshanah Devorah, Congregation Kol HaEmek, Ukiah
Rabbi Pini Dunner, YINBH Beverly Hills Synagogue, Beverly Hills
Rabbi Charles Familant, Hillel Foundation, Stanford University, fmr director, Menlo Park
Rabbi Edward Feinstein, Valley Beth Shalom, Encino
Rabbi Yitzchok Feldman, Emek Beracha, Palo Alto
Rabbi Steve Finley, Congregation Shir Shalom, Sonoma
Rabbi Karen Fox, Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Los Angeles
Rabbi Jason Fruithandler, Sinai Temple, Los Angeles
Rabbi Shmuel Fuss, Chabad Jewish Community Center of Riverside, Riverside
Rabbi Paul S. Gordon, Communities  Central Valley
Rabbi Yisroel Gordon,  Kollel Merkaz HaTorah, Los Angeles
Rav Boruch Y. Gradon, Rosh Kollel Merkaz HaTorah, Los Angeles
Rabbi C. Michelle Greenberg, Kehillah Jewish High School, Palo Alto
Rabbi Ahron Hecht, Richmond Torah Center, San Francisco
Rabbi Hertzel Illulian, JEM Community Center, Beverly Hills
Rabbi Aviva Kamin, Beth  Chaim Chadashim, Los Angeles
Rabbi Paul Kipnes, Congregation Or Ami, Calabasas
Rabbi Baruch Kupfer, Maimonides Academy, Los Angeles
Rabbi Howard Laibson, Congregation Shir Chadash, Lakewood
Rabbi Steven Z. Leder, Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Senior Rabbi, Los Angeles
Rabbi Sheldon Lewis, Congregation Kol Emeth, Palo Alto
Rabbi Michael Lotker, Jewish Federation of Ventura County, Camarillo
Rabbi Dana Magat, Temple Emanuel-El, San Jose
Rabbi Shimon Mahpari, Ohel Rachel Beth Midrash, Tarzana
Rabbi Janet Marder, Congregation Beth Am, Los Altos Hills
Rabbi Sheldon Marder, Jewish Home of San Francisco, San Francisco
Rabbi Meyer H. May, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Los Angeles
Rabbi Lon Alan Moskowitz, California Men's Colony, San Luis Obispo
Rabbi Elazar Muskin, Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles
Rabbi Jonathan Prosnit, Congregation Beth Am, Los Altos
Rabbi Larry Raphael, Congregation Sherith Israel, San Francisco
Rabbi Pinny Roth, Beth Jacob Congregation, San Diego
Rabbi Yosef Saltzman , Jewish Study Network, Palo Alto
Rabbi Erez Sherman, Sinai Temple, Los Angeles
Rabbi Suzanne Singer, Temple Beth El, Riverside
Rabbi Avrohom Stulberger, Valley Torah High School, Valley Village 
Rabbi Avrohom Union, Rabbinical Council of California, Los Angeles
Rabbi Yakov Vann, The Calabasas Shul, Calabasas
Rabbi Sarah Weissman, Congregation Beth Am, Los Altos Hills
Rabbi David White, B'nai Israel, Vallejo
Rabbi Cantor Alison Wissot, Temple Judea, Tarzana
Rabbi David Wolpe, Sinai Temple, Senior Rabbi, Los Angeles
Rabbi Bradley Yellen, Jerusalem U, Los Angeles
Rabbi Joel Zeff, Kenesset Israel Torah Center, Sacramento


May 18, 2015

President Janet Napolitano
Office of the President,
University of California
1111 Franklin St., 12th Floor
Oakland, CA  94607

Dear President Napolitano:

We are a group of 104 University of California faculty members who wish to express our concern over growing antisemitism on UC campuses. This problem is highlighted by the following recent incidents:
· At UCLA, a candidate for student government was challenged for being Jewish by several councilmembers, who suggested her Jewishness was grounds for disqualification of her candidacy.
· At UC Davis, an anti-Israel divestment vote was accompanied by the heckling of Jewish students with chants of “Allahu Akhbar,” followed by two swastikas spray-painted on a Jewish fraternity house and antisemitic graffiti on the wall of a Hillel building.
· At UC Santa Cruz, anti-Israel faculty and students tried to shut down a Hillel-sponsored LGBT event, threatening that protestors would drown out the speaker and intimidate audience members. As a result of these threats, the event had to be moved to a safer location. Nevertheless, anti-Israel protesters still disrupted the meeting, bursting into the room and declaring Israel an “Apartheid state” and chanting “Long live the Intifada!”
These are just the most recent in a series of anti-Jewish incidents that go back several years on various UC campuses.  (See examples of antisemitic activity on UC campuses since 2001).

We are fully aware that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become a major point of contention on UC campuses. Indeed, it is a prime motivator of the anti-Jewish expression that has infected our campuses and led to the verbal and physical intimidation and harassment of many Jewish students, especially those who wish to assert their Jewish identity and/or support for the Jewish state of Israel.

While the University of California is not the only university infected by this virus, UC campuses are rapidly acquiring the reputation of being among the most antisemitic in the nation. It is critical for you and the UC Chancellors to speak out and act forcefully.  We urge you to do the following:
· Formally adopt the U.S. State Department’s definition of antisemitism, which acknowledges that anti-Israel rhetoric can cross the line into anti-Semitism, and use the definition to accurately identify and publicly condemn future acts of anti-Jewish bigotry;
· Develop and implement training programs for university staff about the nature and scope of campus antisemitism and how to appropriately address the problem;
· Educate the UC campus communities about the dangers of Jew hatred, how it is being spread, and where history has shown that it can lead.

People of good faith can disagree on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and we are not advocating for a silencing of free speech. However, opposition to Israel’s policies or actions is no excuse to cross the line into Jew hatred. The time to act and provide moral leadership is now, before we experience a tragedy on one of our campuses, a tragedy that we all want to avoid.


Sonia Ancoli-Israel, UC San Diego, Professor Emeritus, Psychiatry
Daniel Arovas, UC San Diego, Professor, Physics
Boaz Arzi, UC Davis, Assistant Professor, Veterinary Surgical and Radiological
Dr. Henry Baer, UC Berkeley, Oral Surgery at Cowell Hospital Clinic
Ilan Benjamin, UC Santa Cruz, Professor, Chemistry
David Bensimon, UC Los Angeles, Professor, Dept. Chemistry and Biochemistry
Stephen C Bondy, UC Irvine, Professor, Medicine
Rebecca Braslau, UC Santa Cruz, Professor, Chemistry
Shirley R. Braus, UC Irvine, Adjunct Instructor, UCI Extention- International Programs
Dennis A Carson, UC San Diego, Professor, Medicine
Simone Clay, UC Davis, Emeritus, French and Italian
Sarale Cohen, UC Los Angeles, Professor Emeritus, Pediatrics
Robert H. Cole, UC Berkeley, Professor Emeritus, School of Law
Pamela Cosman, UC San Diego, Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Ruth Covell, M.D., UC San Diego, Assc. Dean Emeritus, Professor, Med., Fam & Prev Med
Dvora Cyrlak, UC Irvine, Clinical Professor, Radiological Sciences, Medical School
Guy Decatrel, UC Merced, Lecturer, Craig School
Shlomo Dubnov, UC San Diego, Professor, Music and CSE
Y. Shaya Fainman, UC San Diego, Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
David Feifel, UC San Diego, Professor, Psychiatry
Peter Felker, UC Los Angeles, Professor, Chemistry & Biochemistry
Nathan Fischel-Ghodsian, M.D., UC Los Angeles, Professor Emeritus, Medicine
Gary Fouse, UC Irvine, Adjunct Teacher, Extension
Karen L. Fox-Asraf, UC Irvine, Lecturer, Extension - International Programs
Eric Gans, UC Los Angeles, Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, French & Francophone Studies
Nicole Glaser, UC Davis, Professor, Pediatrics
Amihai Glazer , UC Irvine, Professor, Economics
Tal Golan, UC San Diego, Professor, History
Marvin Goldman, UC Davis, Professor emeritus, Vet Med Surg. & Rad. Sci.
Beatrice A. Golomb, MD, PhD, UC San Diego, Professor, Medicine
David Goodblatt, UC San Diego, Professor, History
Anton Gorodetski, UC Irvine, Professor, Mathematics
Wayne W. Grody, M.D., Ph.D., UC Los Angeles, Professor, Path. & Lab. Medicine; Pediatrics
Alexander Groisman, UC San Diego, Associate Professor, Physics
Guershon Harel, UC San Diego, Professor, Mathematics
Amina Harris, UC Davis, Dir. Honey and Polination Center, Robert Mondavi Institute
Karen Hendler, UC Los Angeles, Clinical Instructor, Ophthalmology
Julien Hoffman, UC San Francisco, Professor Emeritus, Pediatrics
Roslyn Isseroff, UC Davis, Professor, School of Medicine, Dermatology
Jeffrey Jacobs, UC Los Angeles, Associate Clinical Professor, Psychology
Arnold Jacobson, UC Santa Barbara, Professor, Mathematics
Philip Lubin, UC Santa Barbara, Professor, Physics
Michael Kapovich, UC Davis ,Professor, Mathematics
Harvey J. Karten, M.D., UC San Diego, Distinguished Prof. Emer., Neurosciences, Psychiatry
Miriam Kastner, UC San Diego, Distinguished Professor, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Brian Keating, UC San Diego, Professor, Physics
Jascha Kessler , UC Los Angeles, Professor, English
J Daniel Khazzoom, UC Berkeley, Professor Emeritus, Economics
Leeka Kheifets, UC Los Angeles, Professor, School of Public Health
Jack F. Kirsch, UC Berkeley, Professor, Molecular and Cell Biology
Steve Klein, UC Los Angeles, Professor, Ethics
David Kliger, UC Santa Cruz, Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry
Richard Kravitz, UC Davis, Professor, Internal Medicine
Nora Laiken, UC San Diego, Lecturer, Medicine and Pharmacology
Sanford Lakoff, UC San Diego, Professor Emeritus, Political Science
Norma Landau, UC Davis, Professor Emerita, History
Elliot M. Landaw, UC Los Angeles, Professor, Biomathematics
Nancy Levine, UC Irvine, Academic Appointment, UNEX - International Programs
Raphael Levine, UC Los Angeles, Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry
Joseph H. Manson, UC Los Angeles, Professor, Anthropology
Alexei A. Maradudin, UC Irvine, Professor Emeritus, Physics and Astronomy
Ethan Miller, UC Santa Cruz, Professor, Computer Science
William I. Newman, UC Los Angeles, Professor, Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences
Elijah Polak, UC Berkeley, Professor of the Graduate School, EECS
Ed Rabin, UC Davis, Emeritus Professor of Law, School of Law
Larry Rappaport, UC Davis, Professor emeritus, Plant Science
Eyal Raz, UC San Diego, Professor Medicine
Emil Reisler, UC Los Angeles, Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry
Jay Rosenheim, UC Davis, Professor, Entomology and Nematology
Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, UC Santa Cruz, Lecturer, Languages
Harry Rubin, UC Berkeley, Professor Emeritus, Molecular and Cell Biology
David Savar, MD, FACS, UC Los Angeles, Associate Professor, Jules Stein Eye Institute
Michael J.Saxton, UC Davis, Research Chemist Emeritus, Biochemistry & Molecular Medicine
Melvin Scheinman, UC San Diego, Professor, Medicine
Ivan Schuller, UC San Diego, Distinguished Professor, Physics
Jonas Schultz, UC Irvine, Professor Emeritus, Physics & Astronomy
Mortimer Schwartz, UC Davis, Professor Emeritus, Law
Steven Schwartz, UC Los Angeles, Assistant Professor, Medicine
William L. Schwartz M.D., UC San Francisco, Clinical Professor Emeritus, Medicine
Stuart O. Schweitzer, UC Los Angeles, Professor, Health Policy and Management
David Siegel MD, MPH, UC Davis, Professor and Vice Chair, Internal Medicine
Michael Singer, UC Davis, Professor Emeritus, Land, Air and Water Resources
Alvin D. Sokolow, UC Davis, Emeritus, Community Development
Murray Stein MD, MPH, UC San Diego, Dist. Professor, Psychiatry; Fam. Med. & Pub. Health
John Swartzberg, UC Berkeley, Professor Emeritus, School of Public Health
Neal R. Swerdlow, M.D., Ph.D., UC San Diego, Professor, Psychiatry
Eleanor Swift, UC Berkeley, Professor Emeritus, School of Law
Arthur Swislocki, UC Davis, Professor, Medicine
Howard Taras, UC San Diego, Professor, Pediatrics
Miriam Tasini MD, UC Los Angeles, Professor, Medicine
Michael Thaler, UC San Francisco, Professor  Emeritus, Pediatrics
Yitzhak Tor, UC San Diego, Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry
Alexander Veidenbaum, UC Irvine, Professor, Computer Science
Joseph Wang, UC San Diego, Professor, Engineering
Irwin K. Weiss M.D., UC Los Angeles, Professor, Pediatrics
Shimon Weiss, UC Los Angeles, Professor, Chemistry & Biochemistry
Barry (Zwang-)Weissman, UC Los Angeles, Professor Emeritus, Ophthalmology
Roger Wets, UC Davis, Professor, Mathematics
Stephen D. White, UC Davis, Professor, Medicine & Epidemiology
Joseph Witztum, UC San Diego, Professor Medicine
Sheldon Wolf, UC Los Angeles, Clinical Professor, Neurology
Larry Yelowitz, UC Irvine, Professor Emeritus, Computer Science
Sidney Zisook, UC San Diego, Professor, Psychiatry


UCI Observer said...

Where are the Jewish Studies professors from UC Irvine (and indeed from the entire UC System)?
Here's the list of the "Core Faculty" in the Jewish Studies Program at UCI:
You will note at least one familiar name listed as "core faculty" here --- Mark LeVine. What a joke.

And here's the list of "Associated Faculty":

Most ethnic studies programs are led by people who actually have pride in their heritage and who are indeed vocal advocates and unabashed champions for their constituents - think Cornel West, for example. However, at least in the UC System, it would appear that Jewish Studies professors are AWOL when it comes to one of the most pressing issues facing the Jewish people today, namely campus anti-Semitism. What a disgrace.

Gary Fouse said...

Yes! Where are they? I don't see any of them on the UCI list. And guess what. Of the dozen or so from UCI, I personally rounded up half of them, most of whom are from the Extension.

You are correct. It is a joke. If we were circulating a letter decrying anti-black racism on campus we would get every black studies faculty member's signature.

It really is sickening.