Monday, October 26, 2015

UC Regents Working Group on Intolerance at UCLA

Today, the University of California Regents held a working group to hear public testimony on the issue of intolerance on UC campuses. The event was held at UCLA. In reality, the issue of the day was anti-Semitism. It is the documented complaints of anti-Semitism over the years that have culminated in these hearings. I attended the morning session and spoke. Each speaker was allotted 3 and a half minutes. Ninety-seven people were signed up to speak, but many did not show-at least in the morning session though they were scheduled. I was not present for the afternoon session. All in all, the speakers represented a cross-section of interests. There were representatives from Jewish Voice for Peace and LA Jews for Peace (both pro-Palestinian organizations). James Lafferty of the (pinko) National Lawyers Guild and an activist opponent of Israel, was on the list but was not present for the morning session. Some Jewish students also came to speak. The pro-Palestinian speakers claimed that adopting the State Department definition of anti-Semitism would result in a denial of free speech, which was refuted by many of the speakers who complained about campus anti-Semitism. Also speaking out against the problem of anti-Semitism on campus were representatives of the the AMCHA Initiative, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, LA Jewish Federation, the Zionist Organization of America,  and UCLA Hillel.

Those regents participating were Linda Katehi (Chancellor of UC Davis), John Perez, Bruce Varner, Norm Pattiz, Student Regent Avi Oved, Dan Hare and Vice Provost Yvette Gullatt. In the middle of it all, while one person was speaking, Perez, a former Democratic state political bigwig (and I mean BIG) got up went out of the room and came back with a full plate of food, which he proceeded to devour.

Aside from Perez, There was one other moment of dark humor when UCLA Professor and interim head of the highly political Center for Near Eastern Studies at UCLA got up to speak. Her name is Susan Slyomovics. She started off by complaining about the what she maintained was disproportionate amount of power and influence wielded on campus by the Jewish, pro-Israel lobby at the expense of her poor center, Muslims and Arabs.

(I am paraphrasing. I think she stated she was Jewish.) To make matters worse, she went way over her allotted time as the moderator repeatedly tried to get her to cease.

Below are the points that I addressed. I began with a litany of anti-Semitic incidents and speech on University of California  campuses, with which I was familiar.

A 2001, Mohammed al Asi, an imam from Washington DC, said at a campus gathering 
against Israel: "There is a psychosis in the Jewish community that precludes it 
from living in peace and harmony with other human beings. You can take the Jew 
out of the ghetto, but you can't take the ghetto out of the Jew." 
B 2008. During Israel Apartheid week, I saw and photographed on the mock 
apartheid wall, a caricature of Ariel Sharon, drawn in the stereotypical image 
reminiscent of the Nazi anti-Semitic weekly, "Der Stuemer." 
C Amir Abdel Malik Ali, who speaks regularly on UC campuses, regularly refers to 
individuals as "Zionist Jews", spitting out the words as the Nazis used to spit 
out the word, Jew. In 2010, in my presence, he told Jewish members of the 
audience that they were the new Nazis." Finally after years of pleading, the the 
then chancellor (Michael Drake) issued a statement to the campus community 
condemning what was was said. However, he failed to identify the speaker, what 
was specifically said, what the event was, who the sponsoring organization was 
(Muslim Student Union) or the offended group. 
Other than UCI: 
D-  At UC Berkeley in 2010, Jewish students held a peaceful protest when 
swastikas began appearing on campus. They were heckled and given the finger by a 
UCB professor. (  I did not mention the professor's name.) 
E  At UCLA in the past year or so, a Jewish female student was questioned about  her Jewish 
background when she was trying to gain a seat on the student govt. People on the 
student govt questioned whether she could be objective on certain issues. 
F UC Davis  In the past year, swastikas appeared on a UC Davis Jewish frat house 
(following a BDS vote) and just a week or so ago, cars were defaced with 
swastikas and anti-Jewish slurs at UC Davis. 

 I also told the regents that we are witnessing a worldwide resurgence in 
anti-Semitism. In Europe, Jews cannot walk the streets in Jewish garb lest they 
be insulted, assaulted, spat upon, or even murdered. 
In the US, the focal point for this resurgence is on our university campuses. 
Today, groups like Students for Justice in Palestine are supporting the 
beginnings of a new intifada in Israel. 
I concluded by urging the regents to include specific references to 
anti-Semitism in their statement of principles- that it represents the worst 
"ism" today on UC and US college campuses.

Anyway, that's the update. This process is expected to take several months as they try to come up 
with a statement of principles on intolerance that could have been drafter in a day.

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