Jewish groups at the University of California-Berkeley are condemning statements like “f*ck Zionists” and the claim that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) teaches American police to murder black people. The statements were reportedly used by multiple students during a student government meeting.
The Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC) held a regularly scheduled meeting April 17, discussing the disqualification of 14 elected candidates from the Student Action party slate of candidates, which had won a preliminary majority of the senate and executive seats, according to The Daily Californian. The candidates were disqualified for allegedly misconstruing and neglecting to report campaign finances.
A statement signed by 12 Jewish groups at UC-Berkeley said that some Jewish students spoke out about the disqualification of a senator-elect who is Jewish, and how they feel that some representation has been lost.
However, some students used the public comment section of the meeting to make remarks that the group deemed anti-Semitic. However, the student groups said that a former senator claimed to be hearing just “white tears” and “Zionist tears" and was met with applause and someone shouting “f*ck Zionists.”
Campus Reform could confirm the use of the phrases "white tears" and "Zionist tears" during the meeting but could not independently confirm that they were said by a former senator. Campus Reform could not independently confirm whether anyone shouted "f*ck Zionists."
One student leader claimed that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) taught American police to murder black people and suggested that having friendships with Zionists means abetting oppression, slavery, and the prison-industrial complex.
“Using Zionism as a code for Judaism, and subsequently conflating this with white supremacy, is completely ignorant of how white supremacy is founded on anti-Semitism and victimizes Jews,” the groups said, according to The Algemeiner.
Nathan Bentolila, a student at UC-Berkeley and president of Tikvah: Students for Israel, told Campus Reform that he was planning on going to the meeting, but had to study beforehand and was watching it on the live stream.
When Bentolila saw such language being used, he “decided that it was important for me to attend this meeting.”
He described the comments as “very hurtful” and “quite upsetting that this is happening in our student government, that this level of over and open anti-Semitism is happening in 2019 [at the] student government of UC Berkeley, I thought was pretty sad. And the fact that no one really said a word, was also quite upsetting that this was allowed to go on, and nothing happened.”
In a message to the campus community, the UC-Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ said that she has been “made aware” of what “appear to have been disturbing expressions of bias” at the ASUC meeting.
“Even as we seek to more fully understand what was said, I want to make clear that the University’s administration condemns bias, including racism, anti-Semitism and other forms of prejudice, on this campus and beyond,” the chancellor said.
Rena Nasar, who serves as Tri-State campus director and managing director of campus affairs for pro-Israel group StandWithUs, told Campus Reform that the organization is proud of the Jewish students at UC-Berkeley for coming together.
"We are proud of Berkeley Jewish students for uniting despite their political differences and standing up for their community,” Nasar said. “While it is good that the administration responded, their statement should have been more direct about why the comments at the ASUC meeting were anti-Semitic. Unfortunately, this anti-Semitism is part of a long history of hate at UC Berkeley and it is clear that more must be done to educate the student body about why such rhetoric is unacceptable."
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