University of California approves statement condemning anti-Semitism

The University of California’s governing board has signed off on the “Statement of Principles Against Intolerance,” which condemns anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism.

The original statement, which has since been revised, stated that “anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California.” The University of California Academic Council objected to the original language over concerns about academic freedom, with others saying that it could bar criticism of Israeli policies or support of BDS.

The statement came about as a result of anti-Semitic incidents at UC campuses, but according to the AP, pro-Palestinian groups and faculty members specializing in research on the Middle East weren’t happy that anti-Semitism was the only form of intolerance specifically mentioned in these principles as anti-Muslim hate crimes rise.

The Board of Regents had also discussed adopting the U.S. State Department definition of anti-Semitism, which has also been criticized as blurring the lines between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

AMCHA Initiative, a watchdog organization that works to investigate and combat anti-Semitism in American universities, was active in the push to have the Board adopt a policy on anti-Semitism. Though the language in the approved principles was toned down, a statement from director and co-founder Tammi Rossman-Benjamin makes it clear that the group considers this a victory:

For the first time a university has acknowledged the blatant anti-Semitism within anti-Zionism. Anti-Zionism has now been linked to anti-Semitism and condemned by the most prestigious and largest public university in the United States. This is an unprecedented and remarkable step forward, which will benefit Jewish students across the country.

 

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