The Zionist Organization (ZOA) welcomed an open letter written by President Mark Yudof of the University of California, condemning recent acts of harassment against Jewish students on a number of UC Campuses.
The letter comes as a result of ongoing pressure placed upon the university by Jewish activists, including the Director of the ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, Susan Tuchman, Tammi Rossman- Benjamin of UC Santa Cruz, Dr. Leila Beckwith of UCLA, and founders of the AMCHA initiative, an organization committed to protecting Jewish student rights on campus.
President Yudof denounced the recent attempts by anti-Israel activists to silence and intimidate Jewish students, including disrupting an event entitled “Israel Soldiers Speak Out” at UC's Davis campus and defacing an Israeli flag at UC Riverside.
“University campuses are proper venues for collisions of ideas and viewpoints. Conflicting viewpoints not only are inevitable but also healthy in this context,” President Yudof stated. “What is not acceptable are acts meant to disrupt the speech of others. What is not acceptable are hate-driven physical and, yes, verbal attacks on any group or individual that are meant to silence or intimidate those who would express differing opinions.
“It was wrong for hecklers to disrupt speakers on the UC Davis campus at an event entitled 'Israeli Soldiers Speak Out.' It was reprehensible that one of these hecklers accused the speakers of being associated with rapists and murderers,” he asserted.
“It was wrong for a vandal or vandals on the UC Riverside campus to deface the Israeli flag displayed by the Jewish student organization Hillel, scrawling the word ‘terrorists’ across it.
“What we collectively are trying to preserve is a vibrant and vocal university community that is not afraid to explore or even argue about ideas, that is not afraid to make stands on controversial issues, that is not afraid of discourse, but one that embraces the ethic of doing so in a spirit of respect and civility,” he continued.
In response to President Yudof’s letter, the ZOA issued a statement thanking him for “clearly and publicly condemning the recent shameful anti-Semitic actions that occurred at UC David and UC Riverside.”
The ZOA urged university officials to “take these reports seriously, investigate them thoroughly, ensure that if the evidence warrants it, appropriate discipline is imposed, and take other remedial steps to fix the problem."
“When incidents of anti-Semitism occur on their respective campuses- including anti-Zionist and anti-Israel incidents that cross the line into anti-Semitism- the UC Chancellors should be advised that it is the policy of the University of California to clearly and publicly condemn these incidents as reprehensible, hateful and anti-Semitic, so that the university community will understand what is wrong and why it is wrong,” the ZOA stated.
Students need information so that “they will be sensitized to the many forms of anti-Semitism and understand when anti-Zionist and anti-Israel sentiment crosses the link into anti-Semitism,” the letter continued. “We ask that the University of California host class discussions for students regarding the meaning of anti-Semitism and how it affects Jewish students and the entire university community.”