Davis students speak out

As two seniors at U.C. Davis, we find it unfortunate that Dan Pine interviewed a StandWithUs member, who is not at all involved in student life, to represent the Davis Jewish community (“Jewish at U.C. — the real report, by the students themselves,” Oct. 19).

At the Israel Defense Forces event mentioned, the main heckler was not associated with any Muslim or pro-Palestinian student group on campus and acted on his own. The student groups who did protest staged a silent, respectful walkout.

Further, at the “anti-Israel” event mentioned, our student-organized protest, through Hillel, involved silent attendance. However, our actions were upstaged by non-student Jewish community members who interrupted the speaker and made incendiary remarks about Palestinians and Muslims.

As far as on-campus events are concerned, we appreciate the support of the community, but we would like to speak for ourselves. We are not afraid to speak out against anti-Semitism, and on the rare occasion that it is called for, we have done so capably and with respect.

Jaclyn Deitch and Ruth Levine   |   Davis


‘Hate speech, pure and simple’

Thank you for your report “Jewish at U.C. — the real report, by the students themselves” (Oct. 19), detailing the harassment and intimidation of Jewish students at University of California campuses by pro-Palestinian demonstrators. It bears adding that pro-Palestinian demonstrators did similar things when I attended U.C. Davis in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

U.C.’s administration must recognize that this is hate speech, pure and simple. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once observed, “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You are talking anti-Semitism.” And as the task force formed to investigate anti-Semitism on U.C. campuses noted, the “hostility” and derogatory language and imagery Jews endure would “not be tolerated … if similar themes and language were directed at other groups.”

College should be a place where students encounter diverse ideas, including those that challenge students’ core beliefs. But it is unacceptable that “fear and intimidation” are “an annual occurrence” for Jewish students. Universities must not send the message that certain groups, such as Jews, are entitled to fewer rights than other students, or that certain ideas, such as support for Israel, justify acts of hate, intimidation or violence.

Stephen Silver   |   San Francisco


Knowledge is power

I am very concerned about the misunderstandings that will result from Dan Pine’s article on the U.C. campuses. While the report on campus climate for Jewish students is still being reviewed by the office of the president, its impact is greatly limited due to serious methodological flaws that are simply unacceptable.

In 23 years at U.C. Davis, I have encountered anti-Semitism once, and with the help of non-Jewish colleagues who stepped forward, we averted it from happening again. The best antidote to anti-Semitism is knowledge. Our Jewish Studies program taught over 1,000 students last year, most of whom are not Jewish. Jewish Studies faculty are in close contact with the administration and with colleagues in Middle Eastern Studies; we work together to avoid problems and to deal with those that come up.

According to the real annual campus climate survey based on a random sample of 10 percent of all students, a survey that Pine did not consult, Jewish students feel safe on our campus, and they are safe. They are also active and thriving, constituting a diverse group and a very positive presence on campus.

Diane Wolf   |   Berkeley

Professor of Sociology at U.C. Davis


Brutality at Wall

I am commenting on your article “Women of the Wall leader arrested for singing” (Oct. 19).

I am concerned that your article downplays the severity of abuse that Anat Hoffman received simply for saying the Shema and wearing tallit. Your article states that she and two others were detained, interrogated and fingerprinted. However, what really happened was that Anat was strip-searched, left completely naked, dragged on the floor wearing shackles and left in a cell with criminals.

We should all be deeply troubled and scared about the lack of civility and rights that women receive while praying at the Kotel while wearing a tallit.

I attended Hadassah’s centennial convention in Jerusalem. Prior to Anat’s arrest, hundreds of us heard Ambassador Daniel Shapiro and President Shimon Peres speak to Hadassah members. Surely, if one of  our own Zionist leaders of today is not safe from police brutality on the same night that Hadassah and its founder, Henrietta Szold, is recognized and praised, what does that say to the other women and men? Support a woman’s right to pray at the wall, but do so at your own risk?

Lisa Akselrad   |   Palo Alto

Editor’s note: Please click here for our follow-up story on Anat Hoffman’s arrest.


Humor is welcome relief

I thoroughly enjoy reading the humor columns written by Trudi York Gardner. They are fresh, adult without being offensive, and often describe situations I fondly remember. They embody similes and comparisons with a little bit of irony thrown in. After reading about all the tsuris in our world, Gardner’s stories are a welcome relief and, although they require a little thinking to “get” them, they bring on wry smiles even when no one else is in the room.

I hope to read more of Trudi Gardner’s take on life in the future.

Martin Dvorin   |   Novato


‘Just plain funny’

This concerns Trudi York Gardner’s column on circumcision (“Think a bris is painful? Try clip-on earrings,” Oct. 12). I realize some topics are sensitive and/or important to readers and that they don’t find humor in them. Personally, I love Trudi’s writing because she makes me laugh. I have never felt that her humor is meant to denigrate a group of people or their beliefs. It’s just plain funny!

Judith Moorman   |   Occidental


Prop. 30: 1 percent can afford it

How much credence can you lend an argument against a ballot proposition (“Tax empowers special interests, doesn’t serve public need,” op-ed, Oct. 19) when the person arguing doesn’t get the most basic facts about it right?

Proposition 30 is not, as Arie Lipnick asserts, “a regressive 3 percent sales tax increase on the poor, the middle class and the wealthy alike.” Prop. 30 has two parts. Ninety percent of its revenue comes from a progressive 1 to 3 percent sliding-scale income tax increase on families making $500,000 a year and up; and one-tenth comes from a one-quarter of 1 percent sales tax increase, or a penny more on a $4 sandwich.

He also claims there is no guarantee the revenue will be spent for education. In fact, 40 percent of Prop. 30 is a guaranteed allocation to K-12 and community college education, and another half-billion dollars goes to CSU and U.C. to prevent further tuition hikes. After years of massive cuts due to the recession coupled with inadequate taxes on the wealthy, it’s time to fund the state’s future again. The 1 percent has doubled its share of California state income in the past 20 years. It can afford a modest tax increase to restore our public schools. Yes on 30.

Fred Glass   |   Berkeley