February 22, 2022
Gene D. Block Chancellor
University of California, Los Angeles
Re: Urgent Need for Your Administration to Publicly Condemn Antisemitism in the Context of Former UCLA Lecturer’s Violent Threats
Dear Chancellor Block,
We write on behalf of StandWithUs, an international, non-profit education organization supporting Israel and combating antisemitism, and its Center for Combating Antisemitism. We write to you regarding the antisemitic rant by a former UCLA lecturer, which accompanied his recent threats of mass violence, and your subsequent communication to the UCLA community about the incident. It is our sincere hope that you will agree with the need to update your response to directly identify and condemn this blatant antisemitism.
We thank you for your collaboration with UCPD and other law enforcement agencies and agree with your framing of this incident against the backdrop of the much-anticipated return to campus and in-person learning. The Jewish community, like any other minority group, cherishes and often needs the ability to spend time together – whether engaging in religious and educational programming or just having a safe space to embrace their shared identity. This is an important experience that the campus environment uniquely provides Jewish faculty, staff and students.
However, we are concerned by the fact that your response to the ex-lecturer’s threats omitted any mention of his antisemitism, a concern we understand is shared by students and alumni alike. In his horrifying manifesto, the perpetrator espoused that the Holocaust was exaggerated and simultaneously that it did not go far enough, with admiration for Adolf Hitler. He pronounced bluntly, “Violence against Jews should happen.” Another section claimed that African Americans “who support terrorism and genocide support themselves,” leaving few of his goals to the imagination. These are not targets in the abstract; these are members of the UCLA community.
In your letter, you noted that the university is “committed to constantly improving how we protect and notify our community in such circumstances.” Yet, important components of any such response should include identifying and condemning discrimination that targets a specific community, as well as offering that group the support and resources they might need. It is hard to imagine such an omission would have occurred if the lecturer had engaged in hateful and violent rhetoric targeting another minority community. For example, just a few days ago, your administration publicly condemned a flyer targeting the Asian American community with “violent, racist and hate-filled” rhetoric. All too often, however, antisemitic comments, like those made by the former lecturer, are overlooked or, at times, intentionally ignored. In an environment that prides itself on diversity, equity and inclusion, antisemitism cannot continue to receive a pass but must instead receive equal treatment alongside all other forms of discrimination.
At a time when antisemitism is a serious recurring issue on college campuses nationwide, the anti-Jewish bigotry expressed by the ex-lecturer should be of the utmost priority and concern. Given that this hateful rhetoric was spewed alongside actual threats of violence, it was all the more frightening, necessitating direct acknowledgment and condemnation by your administration.
While we understand that you have convened a task force to look into the university’s protocol in responding to threats like these, and we applaud you for that effort, we urge you not to miss the opportunity that exists right now to demonstrate your support to the Jewish community on campus and beyond by updating your response to this situation with a clear condemnation of the anti-Jewish hostility expressed. We thank you for your immediate consideration of this critical matter and look forward to your response. As always, we are happy to provide resources and guidance on how to combat antisemitism should that be helpful. We would appreciate a response to this letter by March 8, 2022.
Roz Rothstein Carly F. Gammill
StandWithUs StandWithUs CEO and Co-Founder Director, Center for Combating Antisemitism