Sunday, October 23, 2016

"Higher Ground" The UC Irvine Report on Anti-Semitism

UC Irvine has come out with a statement on anti-Semitism on its campus as part of its compliance with the UC Regents' (2016) Statement of Principles Against Intolerance. The report is authored by Douglas Haynes of the UCI Office of Equity Diversity and Inclusion.

While I am gratified that UCI is recognizing the problem after many years of denial, and I am pleased that they mention the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a factor, I do have certain critiques of the statement. For one, vagueness serves nobody. The culprits are never mentioned. Anti-Semitism on UCI's campus comes to us via the Muslim Students Union/Students for Justice in Palestine and their invited speakers. That is not to blame all Muslim students, all MSU members, or even all of their invited speakers. It should be added that a few SJP members are Jews themselves, and some of the invited speakers who have come to campus to attack Israel are Jews themselves. That doesn't change the responsibility of the above two organizations in fostering a hostile campus climate for Jewish students.

I also take exception to listing the Olive Tree Initiative, Hillel, and the Jewish Federation (and its Rose Project) as being somehow part of the solution. They have been part of the problem.

The OTI has been nothing more than a thinly-disguised attempt to sway Jewish participants to the Palestinian narrative. By that I mean that the trips are tilted toward supporting the Palestinian side  at the expense of the Israeli side. Indeed, the West Bank tour guides with whom OTI has partnered are co-founders and operatives of the International Solidarity Movement (George S Rishmawi and George N Rishmawi among others). In 2009, OTI actually met with a Hamas official (Aziz Dweik) in the West Bank. Students were reportedly warned not to mention it.

As for Hillel and the Jewish Federation of Orange County, for years they have fought every attempt to inform the Jewish community of the problem of anti-Semitism on campus even to the point of attacking Jewish community members  and Jewish students who have spoken out. I can cite pages and pages of chapter and verse in that regard. It has been well-documented here on Fousesquawk.

I also take exception to the mention of law school dean Erwin Chemerinky's name here as if he is somehow part of the solution. Even before he came to UCI, he was denying that anti-Semitism existed on campus and has continued to do so. In addition, during the well reported May 18 incident on campus where a Jewish/pro-Israel meeting was loudly disrupted by SJP and others, there was participation by so-called "legal observers" from the radical National Lawyers Guild who were attached to the UCI law school. As far as we know, UCI has never addressed that problem, nor has Chemerinksy been called to account or ever given a statement, which I have called on him to do multiple times.

In addition, UCI still has not addressed the fact that (according to NLG's own statement) after the May 18 event was over, they (NLG observers) "accompanied the protesters as they marched back to the Cross Cultural Center". For years, anti-Israel demonstrators who have disrupted pro-Israel events have used the CCC as a staging area. I have complained to UCI about this practice in writing and met with the former head of CCC all to no avail.

"In cases where sponsors or events have targeted groups, the chancellor or other campus representatives have publicly criticized constitutionally protected speech or other activities."

I am only  aware of one time the administration publicly criticized what an MSU-invited speaker said on campus even though it was a case of free speech. That was in May 2010 when Amir Abdel Malik Ali spoke at UCI and (in my presence) stated that he supported Hamas, Hizbollah, and Islamic Jihad as well as "jihad on campus ("as long as it is speaking truth to power"). That drew a rebuke from then-chancellor Michael Drake a couple of days letter. However, he never named the speaker, the event, what was said, who the offended group was, or who the sponsoring group was. What good did that do?

In short, this report does not go far enough-not by a long shot. Expulsions and the banning of the brown shirt SJP from campus is what is needed for a start.


B Forman said...

I tend to agree with everything in your post though in my opinion there is an added issue to contend with now: the Tolerance Policy actually facilitates anti-semitism.  

When the policy came out it was clear it had no teeth.  Even worse, if you read between the lines, it clearly offered a roadmap for those who wish to work around it.  For example, it all but instructs would-be violators to use free speech as a defense for any "violation".  A situation is thus created where the University can perfectly claim to be acting within the Tolerance Policy without doing anything meaningful to actually deal with anti-semitism.  It would have been far more productive for the coalition of 36 national jewish groups to refuse to accept the policy as written.  Instead, they all signed on thus giving the policy credibility and finality.  Some argued that the policy is not perfect, but its a start.  My feeling was just the opposite.  By having the 36 groups approve the Policy, they would never be able to condemn its negative consequences for fear of looking foolish to their donors. The policy is therefore an end, not a beginning.  For the foreseeable future UCI and other UC schools will hide behind this policy by accurately claiming to be in compliance while taking no effective action.  

When the policy was approved I feared we would be fighting its effects for a generation.  Unfortunately, the recent "Higher Ground" statement tends to confirm my fears. Similarly, UC’s recent response to the Brandeis Report (which lists the the UC system as a hotspot for anti-semitism) provides further confirmation:

“.. The University of California takes incidents of antisemitism very seriously and in fact, earlier this year the UC Regents adopted the Principles Against Intolerance, which clearly states that we have no tolerance for antisemitism nor other forms of bias or racial/ethnic prejudice."

Next test: Will members of the 36 group coalition condemn the “Higher Ground: statement as weak or will they send email blasts claiming victory?

Gary Fouse said...

Good points. Whatever the case may be I think the UC Regents statement is now nothing but a scrap of paper.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

But the Dodgers have lost the playoffs. Take that UCI!