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Congressman Brad Sherman

Representing the 30th District of CALIFORNIA

Congressman Sherman Condemns Anti-Semitic Events at University of California, Irvine

  

Jun 2, 2016
Press Release

Washington DC – In a letter to Chancellor Howard Gillman, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) condemned recent anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist events on the University of California, Irvine campus, and called for stronger protections for university students.

On May 18, the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and affiliates disrupted an assembly of students viewing a movie about the Israel Defense Forces. Protesters were filmed yelling “long live the Intifada”, a reference to periods of terrorism in Israel marked by immense human suffering.

Additionally, May 2-5 was “Anti-Zionism Week 2016” at UCI, sponsored by SJP and the Muslim Student Union (MSU). The Neturei Karta Rabbi - Yisroel Dovid Weiss was invited to speak on campus. Rabbi Weiss previously met with the former President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an avid supporter of terrorism and denier of the Holocaust. Rabbi Weiss’s commentary on campus likened Zionism to a “corrupt movement” and “terrible sickness” that is “destroying G-d’s world”.

“The UC Board of Regents adopted the Principles Against Intolerance in March of this year, an important step towards combating anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry” said Congressman Sherman.

“I urge Chancellor Gillman and the UC system to enforce the Principles Against Intolerance in an effort to foster a productive and welcoming campus environment that is safe for everyone.”

See Sherman’s full letter to Chancellor Howard Gillman below.

 

June 1, 2016

Chancellor Howard Gillman
The University of California, Irvine
510 Aldrich Hall
Irvine, CA 92697-1900

Dear Chancellor Gillman,


I am writing you to express serious concern over the recent anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic events at the University of California, Irvine. On May 18, the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and affiliates disrupted an assembly of students viewing a movie about the Israel Defense Forces. Protesters were filmed yelling “long live the Intifada”, a reference to periods of terrorism in Israel marked by immense human suffering. It is appalling that the campus atmosphere has degraded to the point where students require armed security to assemble peacefully and watch a movie about life in Israel – a nation that is a strong American ally and the only true democracy in the Middle East.

Additionally, May 2-5 was “Anti-Zionism Week 2016” at UCI, sponsored by SJP and the Muslim Student Union (MSU). The Neturei Karta Rabbi - Yisroel Dovid Weiss was invited to speak on campus. Rabbi Weiss previously met with the former President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an avid supporter of terrorism and denier of the Holocaust. Rabbi Weiss’s commentary on campus likened Zionism to a “corrupt movement” and “terrible sickness” that is “destroying G-d’s world”. He also said that the Zionist movement is intimidating the media, a classic anti-Semitic stereotype.

Due to the efforts of myself and others, in 2010 the U.S. Department of Education issued guidance to American universities indicating that they had an obligation to protect students from anti-Semitism. More specifically, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act requires universities to protect students from bigotry based on “race, color, or national origin,” including anti-Semitism. It is important that the University of California enforces Title VI and prevents anti-Semitism, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because failure to do so could affect eligibility for federal funds. This is especially necessary because there are those who claim that the most vicious and hateful anti-Semitic remarks are mere criticisms of the policies of the Israeli government.

As you know, the UC Board of Regents adopted the Principles Against Intolerance in March of this year. This was an important step towards combating anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination.

However, the inability of Jewish and pro-Israel students to assemble peacefully to view an Israeli film is counter to the Principles Against Intolerance, section H, which states that “Actions that physically or otherwise interfere with the ability of an individual or group to assemble, speak, and share or hear the opinions of others.”

There was clearly interference with the ability of Jewish and pro-Israel groups to assemble and discuss very relevant topics during the May 18 incident. Furthermore, the remarks of Rabbi Weiss do not constitute open academic debate, but are inciting, and can only lead to increased anti-Semitism. Rabbi Weiss’s remarks breach section C of the Principles Against Intolerance which states that “stereotypical or prejudiced discourse, left unchallenged and uncontested, has led to enormous tragedy” and that “the university is best served when its leaders challenge speech and action reflecting bias, stereotypes, and/or intolerance.”

Given the May events, it is clear that UCI has not yet enforced the Board of Regents’ ruling. How do you intend to protect the right of Jewish, pro-Israel, and other UCI students to assemble peacefully in the future? 

I note that in your letter to Professor Rossman-Benjamin regarding the May 18th incident, you stated “I announce that we are investigating the incident to determine whether disciplinary or legal actions are appropriate.” Please keep me apprised of the progress of the investigation and let me know whether you have determined to take disciplinary or legal actions.

I urge you to enforce the Principles Against Intolerance in an effort to foster a productive campus environment that is safe for all.

Sincerely,

Brad Sherman

Member of Congress

 

 

 

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