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STANDWITHUS WELCOMES UC REPORT ON CAMPUS CLIMATE FOR JEWISH STUDENTS - Staff
StandWithUs welcomes the July 9 University of California (UC) report about the campus climate for Jewish students in the UC system. The report accurately describes how the activities of anti-Israel groups, faculty, and departments have created a hostile climate for Jewish students who support Israel. Its eight recommendations are a constructive and potentially effective way to improve the situation.

“We are gratified by the report. We have been on the front lines of the battle against anti-Israel extremism on campuses since it erupted 12 years ago. We recognized the problem early and worked to provide support, training, and educational materials to empower students to respond with confidence and facts. We urged administrators and the UC Regents to set clearer guidelines about the difference between hate speech and legitimate debate about Israel’s policies. We pointed out the double standard applied to Jewish students. While there were firm policies against hostile stereotypes and defamations directed at other minority groups, those standards were not applied to Jewish students who supported or identified with Israel. We are relieved that now, finally, the University of California has officially acknowledged the problem,” said Roz Rothstein, StandWithUs CEO.

“The report is very credible because it is so balanced. It didn’t overstate the case or paint a bleak picture about the experiences of Jewish students. It underscored that Jewish student life is thriving and that Jewish students occupy a prominent place on the campuses. It also pointed out the difficulty of generalizing about Jewish students, observing that some support the anti-Israel groups,” explained Rothstein.

“Nonetheless, the anti-Israel extremism is a serious problem. The report’s recommendations address most of the problems we have seen over the years, and hopefully they will be implemented,” added Rothstein.

The recommendations include setting up protocols to ensure balance when UC departments or organizations co-sponsor anti-Israel events; implementing a hate-speech-free campus policy  that accommodates the imperative to protect free speech; and developing a “cultural competence training” educational program to address the bigotry and ignorance that have fueled the anti-Israel campaigns. The report also points out that Jewish students are underrepresented on the UC campus climate councils that the UC chancellors established in 2010 to deal with instances of prejudice on campuses and calls for more Jewish students to be included.

“One of the most important recommendations urges the UC system to adopt a definition of anti-Semitism to identify current instances of it and a protocol to address it. The report recommends adopting the EU’s working definition that recognizes that anti-Israel extremism is a form of what is called the ‘new anti-Semitism,’ in which Israel replaces Jew in traditional anti-Semitic imagery. This new anti-Semitism is as dangerous for Jews and for the culture at large as traditional anti-Semitism, and it must be identified and rooted out,” said Rothstein.

The report also recommended that the UC system be more sensitive to Jewish students’ dietary and holiday needs.

“Though these recommendations seem comprehensive, they cannot address all problems. We still see professors using their lecterns and university websites to try to influence students with their anti-Israel prejudices. We still see pro-Israel students and student groups excluded by other student activist groups, as the report acknowledged. We still see boycott and divestment campaigns that are designed to defame Israel. But the recommendations are a valuable first step. We will do all we can to help ensure that these recommendations are implemented. We were pleased that the report listed StandWithUs as one of the organizations that has helped pro-Israel students, and we remain dedicated to our mission to support and empower students who stand up for Israel. We must always remember that anti-Semitism is not only about Jews. Its bigotry and prejudice also imperil the values of the larger society. We are pleased that the UC system is now willing to stand up firmly to uphold those values,” concluded Rothstein.

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