March 26, 2021
The Long Beach City College Board of Trustees passed a resolution endorsing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition on March 24.
The resolution, a copy of which was obtained by the Journal, states that adopting the IHRA definition is necessary because “antisemitic incidents are on the rise on American college and university campuses, evidenced in part by the defacing of Jewish facilities and institutions on campuses using antisemitic language, efforts to remove Jewish students who believe in Israel’s right to exist from positions of leadership, the questioning of Jewish students’ loyalty to the United States by faculty and fellow students, scheduling of examinations and other required degree completion benchmarks on Jewish holidays, and even acts of violence and intimidation against Jewish students and faculty.”
The resolution also notes that IHRA has been adopted by the U.S. State Department and more than 34 countries and that the definition includes illegitimate criticism of Israel. However, an amendment to the resolution that would have condemned “all antisemitic speech and actions by members of the campus community” and stressed the importance of ensuring that Jewish members of the community “are not penalized or otherwise discriminated against for observing [Jewish] holidays and traditions” failed to pass by a vote of 3-2.
Jewish groups applauded the Board of Trustees for passing the resolution.
“StandWithUs celebrates the passing of an IHRA resolution by the Long Beach College Board of Trustees,” StandWithUs co-founder and CEO Roz Rothstein said in a statement to the Journal. “Despite efforts to silence the Jewish community, we are so proud that they have voted to do the right thing and take a stand against antisemitism. We look forward to observing the positive impact such an important step will have on the Long Beach College community.”
American Jewish Committee (AJC) Los Angeles Regional Director Richard S. Hirschhaut similarly said in a statement to the Journal, “AJC roundly applauds the Long Beach Community College District for its adoption of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism. Because the road leading to this decision was at times acrimonious, the process itself became a ‘teachable moment’ in illustrating the importance of the IHRA Definition as a tool for education and understanding. The Long Beach CCD has earned its place as a leader in assuring guardrails against antisemitism and hate on campus. It is an example worthy of emulation.”
Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Orange County/Long Beach Regional Director Peter Levi said in a statement in to the Journal, “ADL applauds the Board of Trustees of Long Beach Community College adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s Working Definition of Antisemitism. The IHRA definition is a useful tool for combating hate and antisemitism in the U.S. and around the world for combating hate and antisemitism in the U.S. and around the world. This legally non-binding working definition provides valuable guidance for elected university administrators along with officials, law enforcement, educational professionals and community leaders on what exactly is antisemitism and the many different forms it can take without infringing open everyone’s right to free speech. This includes when criticism of Israel crosses the line from fair critique of the policies of the Israeli government into the delegitimization of the Jewish State.”
Democrats for Israel California wrote in a Facebook post, “Thank you to the Long Beach City College Board of Trustees for recognizing the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism in its entirety as stated on the US Department of State website. Congratulations to Board Member Sunny Zia LBCCD Trustee, Area 3 for leading this effort and Board Chair Uduak-Joe Ntuk for running the meeting that got it passed.”
Trustee Sunny Zia also said in a statement to the Journal, “After months of trial and tribulation and call to action by our community, it makes me proud to finally pass a resolution as the first higher education institution defining antisemitism. Antisemitic incidents have been on the rise in the United States and highest in recent years, more than in any year since the Anti-Defamation League began tracking them four decades ago. I am honored to have done my part in condemning such acts of hate and educating the community at large on a chronic issue that has plagued our community on a daily basis. I hope this sends a message that Long Beach Community College District will not tolerate antisemitism as a model for other institutions to emulate.”
The board had previously been criticized for not voting on the resolution in a meeting on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Read the article here.