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U.C. report on Jewish campus climate: Results marginalize, misrepresent students critical of Israel

by rebecca pierce

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The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories has long been a controversial topic in the United States, especially on college campuses. Personal identity can influence how people view the conflict, causing some to assume that this discussion is, or should be, conducted strictly along ethno-religious lines. This assumption, however, has the potential to chill speech and push dissenters out of their communities. As a Jewish and African American student critical of Israeli policy and involved in Palestinian solidarity organizing at U.C. Santa Cruz, I experience this firsthand.

Vpierce_with_nameSince coming to UCSC, my ability to participate in Jewish student programming while active in the campus Committee for Justice in Palestine has met constant challenges. Last year, I was repeatedly subjected to abusive online comments by a staff member at a center for Jewish life because of my decision to be in CJP and participate in Jewish student programming. This is not the only time I’ve been targeted, and I’m not the only Jewish student to experience something like this. Unfortunately, recent steps by the University of California to “improve campus climate” appear poised to make this situation even worse.

On July 9, U.C. President Mark Yudof’s Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion presented the “University of California Jewish Student Campus Climate Fact-Finding Team Report & Recommendations.” Authored by Rick Barton of the Anti-Defamation League and Alice Huffman of the California NAACP, it is ostensibly based on testimony from meetings with Jewish students at six U.C. campuses. I was part of a Jewish student panel that discussed the report when it was released, and had no choice but to dispute much of its findings.

I was present at the UCSC meeting in fall 2011 and discussed the difficulties of maintaining involvement in both CJP and my campus Jewish community. But upon receiving the report, I discovered my experiences, and those of other Jewish students critical of Israel, were almost entirely absent.

In fact, while the authors note there are some Jewish students involved in what they label “the anti-Zionism movement,” the document portrays Palestinian campus organizing as problematic, or even anti-Semitic by nature, often through unchecked generalizations.

For example, it states that “[t]he use of the swastika drawn next to, or integrated with, the Jewish Star of David” is “commonplace.” Palestinian students and their allies are aware of the meaning and history of that symbolism, and avoid using it; the notion that its use is “commonplace” at our events is false and offensive.

Even worse, many of the report’s recommendations call for policies that discriminate against speech dealing with Palestinian rights. The first recommendation in the document is that “UC should review its policies on University sponsorship and neutrality and develop model institutional protocols for such activities.” This proposal is followed by suggestions that the U.C. even consider prohibiting sponsorship of “Israeli Apartheid Week” events, a term used interchangeably with “Palestine Awareness” in the report. Several other recommendations also suggest limiting Palestinian speech. None of the proposals call for such conditions to be placed on “pro-Israel” events — nor would I urge that.

Equally disturbing is what is missing from the report. Several Jewish students and I gave Barton and Huffman articles written by UCSC students who feel the current Title VI complaint and federal investigation into “anti-Semitism” at our university is chilling criticism of Israeli policy. Despite this, the authors boldly claim that “the Team’s conversations with students revealed no such confusion or effort to curtail the First Amendment rights.”

When I attended the meeting at U.C. Santa Cruz in the fall of 2011, I hoped my participation would lead to better understanding of the diverse experiences of Jewish students. While I’m thankful I was given a chance to speak, after reading the final document, I am extremely disappointed. I believe that the authors of the report have failed in their mission to accurately and equitably represent the needs of all Jewish students, and the report is instead a platform to stifle Palestinian organizing on U.C. campuses. This may represent the wishes of some Jewish students supportive of current Israeli policy in Palestine, but it marginalizes and misrepresents many others.

In July I co-authored a letter with other concerned Jewish U.C. students asking President Yudof to table the problematic report and recommendations until a more equitable and accurate study could be completed.

I am glad that President Yudof has responded to our letter (“Report calls for regulating ‘hate speech’ at U.C.,” Aug. 10). However, many unanswered questions remain about the methodology the authors used in the report and the impact of its recommendations on the Palestinian student organizing that it brands as hate speech.


Rebecca Pierce studies film and digital media production at U.C. Santa Cruz, is part of the Committee for Justice in Palestine and has contributed to Leviathan Jewish Journal.


Comments

Posted by Dan Spitzer
08/24/2012  at  11:47 AM
There is a Plethora of Video Evidence Which Gives Lie...

to Ms. Pierce’s contention that swastikas superimposed over Stars of David are not a regular feature of pro-Palestinian demonstrations.

Moreover, having SJP and CFP students in military garb hold up students at so-called Sather Gate checkpoints screaming at them, “Are you a Jew?!” transcends the realm of freedom of expression and enters the distasteful actions of pure bigotry unacceptable on any campus.

Can anyone conceive of any decent institution of higher learning permitting “checkpoints” where faux soldiers bark, “Are you black or are you Hispanic or are you a Muslim?” Correspondingly, the pro-Palestinian minion has indeed entered an unacceptable realm of anti-Semitism with the way its members so-often deport themselves.

And oh yes, Ms. Pierce is oh-so worried about freedom of expression. But has she or her fellow pro-Palestinian comrades ever condemned Palestinian political leaders who permit precious little free speech and who frequently imprison journalists critical of their policies?

Not bloody likely…

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Posted by Dan Spitzer
08/24/2012  at  01:03 PM
Hey Ms. Pierce, Are You & Your SJP & JVP Sufficiently Literate...

to understand that if you consider yourself Jewish, this means YOU?!

Hamas top official: Kill every last Jew and American
via jta.org

(JTA)—A senior Hamas official said in a televised sermon that he wished for the annihilation of every single Jew and American.

The sermon by Sheik Ahmad Bahr, deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was broadcast earlier this month on Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV.

“Oh, Allah, destroy the Jews and their supporters” and “the Americans and their supporters,” he was filmed saying. “Oh, Allah, count them one by one, and kill them all, without leaving a single one.”

The video was edited and translated by MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute.

“If the enemy sets foot on a single square inch of Islamic land, Jihad becomes an individual duty incumbent upon every Muslim, male or female,” Bahr also said. “A woman doesn’t need permission from her husband, nor a servant his master’s permission,” in order to engage in jihad. This, Bahr said, is “in order to annihilate those Jews.”

The Islamist Hamas movement seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, and won a majority of seats in the Palestinian parliament in 2006 elections.

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Posted by Guy Herschmann
08/25/2012  at  01:28 PM
Disgusted

Rebecca Pierce is part of a group of students on campus who use the banner of Academic Freedom to engage in the worst forms of hate speech against Jews. She has gone far beyond the pale of legitimate criticism of Israeli government policy, such as criticizing the “Occupation” (which many students in our community openly criticize) and veered deeply into Anti-Semitism – the very hate speech the report seeks to define.

On campus, Rebecca oftentimes charges that Zionism, the national aspiration movement of the Jewish people, is racism. On other occasions, Rebecca has engaged in nasty Holocaust minimization by bringing and proudly introducing pseudo-scholar Norman Finkelstein at a large UC Santa Cruz campus event. Finkelstein sees Holocaust denier David Irving - who denies the existence of gas chambers and believes Auschwitz to be a “tourist attraction” - an “indispensable” historian. Finkelstein has also called Elie Wiesel a “resident clown of the Holocaust circus.” Jewish students, some of them grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, left the event in a state of shock;  others even left in tears. In the campus quad, Jewish students supportive of Israel had been called “Nazis” by students in the Committee for Justice in Palestine, an organization she co-leads. Additionally, the pernicious canard of Israel being an “apartheid state” is one Rebecca has not shied away from using – rhetoric that is rampant at CJP events and engagements.

Despite all this, the Jewish community has stuck to its principles of openness and good will by extending a hand to Rebecca and her peers. Santa Cruz Hillel has welcomed Rebecca and other members of CJP to all events. Rebecca and some of her peers in CJP even participated on Hillel’s Alternative Spring Break trips.

This is yet another strategy to marginalize the Jewish community and its rightful concerns.  As small as it may seem, trashing Jewish groups is part of anti-Zionists’ hateful tirade against all Jewish collective action, the pinnacle of which is self-determination. Rebecca’s false and defamatory statements—such as those calling Israel an “apartheid” state are exactly what the Jewish Campus Climate Report seeks to address.

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Posted by Rebecca Pierce
08/25/2012  at  08:16 PM
Saddened

Guy,
I’m very sad to see someone I’ve known since middle school, and have always had cordial relationship with, resort to defamatory statements and blatant mischaracterizations over political differences. I am especially surprised since you always claimed to respect me to my face, even frequently asking me for hugs when we passed each other on campus.

You know very well that the picture you tried to paint of me in your comment is completely unfair and untrue. Accusing me of anti-Semitism is especially shocking and disingenuous given our past interactions and the active level of involvement I maintain in my community, despite well-documented and easily verifiable experiences of intimidation. You also personally should know about the bullying that I’ve experienced, and have acknowledged that to me in the past.

Being personally attacked by the outgoing co leader of the Santa Cruz Israel Action Committee and Northern California’s Stand With Us chapter, not only reflects poorly on those groups, it only adds to a sense of discomfort around the notion attending their events in the future.

This transparent attempt to smear me is only further evidence of the atmosphere of silencing and intimidation directed at Jewish students critical of Israel, which I try to address in this piece.

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Posted by dude
08/25/2012  at  10:16 PM
Israel Apartheid Week

If I’m not mistaken, Palestinian Awareness week called Israel an Apartheid during their events and tabling.

I wonder how much distinction the two weeks actually have from one another.

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Posted by AKar
08/26/2012  at  09:29 PM
Dear Guy,As a recent alumni

Dear Guy,
As a recent alumni of UCSC, I will really miss all the times you spat, got in my face, and yelled at me until my ears were ringing.. almost to the point where I, as a woman, was frightened that you might hit me. All for what? To claim that WE the individuals fighting for TRUE FREEDOM AND DIGNITY were making the campus hell for you. Really? As with all of the other idiotic things that you and your terrorist group, SCIAC, claim, can you please provide PROOF and documentation stating that Rebecca Pierce is such a horrible and vile individual? Or are you guys still talking out of your asses? Anyone who reads the comments of Guy or his posse must remember one thing: This group is the same group that claimed that Rebecca Pierce, Jews, Muslims, Punjabi Sikhs, African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinos who have made any statement critiquing Israel and its policies are white supremacists who support the KKK. Yes, us, the MINORITIES of this state are white supremacists. Anyone who would like to ask me questions and want documentation proving all that I have stated, please message me. I will be more than happy to provide you with adequate proof. Knowing the history of SCIAC and its members, I hope that UCSC provides Rebecca Pierce and her PEACEFUL group members some protection against SCIAC’s vile, disgusting, and abusive ways. I would hate to hear of any one of my UCSC students in danger or having their voices silenced, including yours Guy. You have a right to say what you want to say, but please recognize that there are consequences to the way you say things. Learn to respect others, and maybe… just maybe, others will learn to respect you and your group.
-Glad I am out of there.

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Posted by AKar
08/26/2012  at  09:30 PM
Hey look at that. Guy,

Hey look at that. Guy, a supporter of Israel, treated me and many other women and gay individuals with such DISRESPECT.

Hmm…

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Posted by dude
08/26/2012  at  10:03 PM
Akar

I would very much like to see any proof that you have of SCIAC calling anyone white supremacists. Or any moment Mr. Herschman had treated a woman or Gay individual with disrespect (on the basis of them being a female or gay) for that matter.

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Posted by AKar
08/26/2012  at  10:36 PM
Of course,The Leviathan (a Jewish

Of course,
The Leviathan (a Jewish Journal at UCSC) has taken off this individual’s article claiming that we and our actions are akin to white supremacists/KKK. Here is the excerpt “What I would like to point out is that the University of California has rules, regulations and obligations which are more restrictive than what the first amendment allows. Thus, when the university or its representatives, departments, and/or professors, make such biased and hurtful anti-Israle and anti-Semitic statements (implicitly or explicitly), not only are they soiling the idea that a university should be a place of rational learning, but they are letting down all the students they are supposed to be protecting. Simply put, the support of such events as those listed above would be akin to the university sponsoring a lecture by a leader of the Ku Klux Klan or some other White Supremacist group” (The Leviathan, Vol. 39. Fall 2011). I can give more quotes out of this book that are basically false claims thrown in the air with no backing. I mean, if you really want to see it, I could try to scan the whole article. There was a statement written about it in the following volume which I believe is online. Here is the link (http://www.leviathanjewishjournal.com/?p=232).

The instance of blatant anger and disrespect towards women that i am referring to was during the Palestinian Awareness Week in the year 2011 during one of the day events (of which I have no recording available). Additionally the second instance that i am referring to is during a meeting with Lecturer Tammi in regards to the federal investigation (I have notes but no recording). I do have friends many of whom were women and gay who felt very threatened in that space).

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Posted by dude
08/27/2012  at  02:46 AM
First off

Guy didn’t write that article. Ask Rebecca if you don’t believe me, she knows who wrote it, and will confirm that it was not Guy. I know the man that did, and I would like to say that not only does he NOT represent ALL of SCIAC, but more importantly he is without a doubt the most extreme member. Your judgement of the SCIAC as a terrorist group, is massively offensive.

Secondly some of the events that the CJP has sponsored ARE akin to a KKK member. Go google Kalid Abdul Malik Ali. Do it, i’ll wait. That man supports terrorist groups with goals of killing Israeli’s, he calls them Nazi’s and advocates for their cleansing from Israel proper. He is only for “resistance” not dialogue. If you look at that man and can’t draw connections to hateful groups you’d have to be blind.

I don’t see how anyone generalized race in your passage in anyway shape or form. Speakers who advocate for violence upon a specific group of people are akin to hate. Movies or speakers that wrongfully accuse Israel of raping thousands of Palestinians, are hateful.

Moreover I still have not heard how women or gays were offended in anyway. You state that it was done at Palestinian Awareness Week and Tammi’s speech. I still am not informed as to how you were offended at these events. The fact that you don’t have tangible evidence does not help your case.

Finally, and maybe most telling thing of all in this conversation, is what you said in your first comment.

“WE the individuals fighting for TRUE FREEDOM AND DIGNITY”

Slow down there Spartacus! Who died and made the CJP the paragons of freedom and dignity? This ladies and gentlemen is the the heart of the issue:

a CJP member believes -
CJP = TRUE FREEDOM AND DIGNITY
SCIAC = Terrorist group

With those polarizing thoughts how could a student not rage when the administration even considers siding with SCIAC on an issue? I guarantee that these feelings stem from non-other than the garbage being shoved down a students throat at CJP events, making them feel that they are GODS while those who have even a slightly different view must be the scum on earth trying to control others.

No Akar, i’m sorry, but you aren’t the paragons of all that is good that you make yourselves out to be. Your events can be hateful, rude, and above all propaganda, not designed to educate, rather designed to blame the entire conflict on the state of Israel, while denying Palestinian action and contributions to the conflict.

SCIAC is not a terrorist group, and despite the fact that some members say things that are offensive OUTSIDE OF SCIAC (I’m not convinced the cited passage is by the way), it doesn’t mean all of the members want nothing more than to intimidate you.

-Best wishes

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Posted by craven_maven
08/27/2012  at  10:12 AM
Stand With Us

The best response to campus anti-Semitism disguising itself as anti-Israel propaganda is counterdemonstrations. These can be organized not only by students, but by the community as well.

The organization Stand With Us (http://standwithus.com/) is very helpful in organizing counterdemonstrations. This organization also has very informative materials that can be handed out, to counter the blizzard of lies which are commonly used by pro-Arab organizers to demonize, delegitimize and vilify Israel and Jews.

Name calling, personal attacks, and illegal and uncivil interruptions of each others events do NOT aid the cause of Israel. These are tactics that have been used by pro-Arab anti-Semites. We should not sink to their level.

You would be amazed how effective peaceful but well organized and informative counterdemonstrations are in counteracting and ridding campuses of pro-Arab, anti-Israel defamation and lies.

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Posted by Dan Spitzer
08/27/2012  at  01:57 PM
Hey AKar, It's Laughable that You Say You are "Fighting ...

for true freedom and dignity”. How about asking your Palestinian pets to extend dignity to their women and gays as the Israelis have? As for freedom, why does the “moderate” Abbas gov’t keep imprisoning Palestinian journalists who are only mildly critical of it?

And why do you and your organization not criticize Hamas when its leaders call for death not just for Israeli Jews but for all Jews? It appears your fight for “dignity and freedom” includes support for genocide.

Just how low can you and your pro-Palestinian minion go?

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Posted by Rebecca Pierce
08/27/2012  at  06:38 PM
Point of Clarification

“Dude”,
I’m not interested in getting into a prolonged back and forth here, and if you are a UCSC student and want to discuss this further, chances are you already know how to reach me, or know someone who does.

Just so there is no confusion, CJP hasn’t hosted the individual you mentioned once the entire time I have been involved. This is because that person’s rhetoric contradicts the message members want to send. To associate them with our organization’s current stance is to misrepresent the situation on campus.

I truly empathize with you not wanting to be called a terrorist, but also ask you to recognize that CJP faces being falsely labeled as such quite frequently on campus. I don’t think I need to go into why that is actually an incendiary racial slur when applied to Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim students.

Also I’m a little frustrated at even having to explain this, but it appears necessary. The KKK is a violent hate group that subjected black people in this country to a level of terror that many in our generation can’t imagine. They beat, kidnapped, tortured, castrated, raped, and lynched people based solely on their ethnic and religious background. They did this to instill fear and maintain the dominance of white christian men over all other groups.

It is beyond offensive to compare entirely non-violent CJP events to that organization, and it minimizes the history of black suffering in this country. It also is personally offensive to many of our members, which include African Americans, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and other students that historically would have been the targets of the KKK and similar groups.  Additionally, while I personally find Mr Malik’s incendiary rhetoric to be distasteful and counterproductive, if it is objectionable to compare Jewish people to Nazis, which I think many of us can agree on, it should also be equally objectionable to compare African Americans to the KKK. 

Also I think the fact that most of the comments on here are focused on attacking CJP, or me personally, says a lot. My piece is about the fact that the climate report claiming to represent all Jewish students is damaging to many of us who are critical of Israel, not the merits of a particular student organization.

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Posted by dude
08/27/2012  at  07:26 PM
One final point

I apologize if I offended you with the comparison, but I am still not comparing any one race to the KKK. I am merely stating that when an event just points Israel out to be the bad guy, and doesn’t even mention why some controversial policies exist (i.e Palestinian contributions), it does rub on the side of offensive. Why is this? Well let me sum it up quickly. If one is trying to push a program whose sole purpose is to damage the reputation of Israel rather than find a reasonable solution to the conflict, well… Then the event is designed to incite hate.

Regardless, I just want to ask you a few quick questions if that’s ok. You constantly claim that you are not represented by the investigation, but honestly, how many Jewish students do you know that hold political ideologies similar to yours? and more importantly, does it matter? The investigation was meant to analyze the beliefs of Jewish students that have a strong, personal association with Israel one that is very different among students.

What if the term anti-semitism was replaced with hate of Israeli’s? Hating on one’s national origin is also a form of hate, on equal level of religious hate. Would that satisfy you? Can you tell me that your events don’t undermine the legitimate safety concerns that many of us with family in Israel must deal with on a daily basis, and therefor potentially hating on a national origin.

My problem is that essentially I have many Jewish friends that have openly renounced speaking about Israel publicly on the basis that people accuse them of hating Palestinians for it. I am critical of Israel myself, but I must ask, could your events possibly be contributing to this problem? People think Israeli’s just bomb the hell out of Palestinians for fun, and I’m asking if your events may have implied such. To criticize Israel for bombing a school for instance, without stating that Hamas was firing rockets out of it, could be such an example of this problem. Do you think your group makes these mistakes? letting important facts like that slip away while focusing on pictures of suffering?

I don’t want to get into a whole fight with you online and I appreciate you addressing my concerns.
-Best wishes

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Posted by Dan Spitzer
08/27/2012  at  10:35 PM
The Palestinian Electorate is Even More Bigoted Than the KKK

Ms. Pierce, the KKK is indeed an odious organization and there is nothing good to be said for it.

Correspondingly, the Palestinian electorate in what Jimmy Carter and other international observers deemed a free and fair election voted into office an organization which openly supports Jewish genocide.

As repugnant as the KKK was and is, those racists have never called for the murder of all black people as have the Palestinian people by virtue of their election of the pro-genocidal party, Hamas.

Why don’t you condemn this, Ms. Pierce? By not doing so, you reflect the bigotry you otherwise rightfully scorn in the KKK. Again, are you aware of your own manifest hypocrisy and out-and-out Jew-hating ethnocentrism? Or are you simply oblivious to it?

Why do you support a society given to advocation of genocide? What is your motive? Is it to call attention to yourself because you do not garner appreciation in any other way?

Surely to tender support of a society so given to bombasts of advocacy of genocide, you must understand, is not a stance ethical people find admirable-quite the contrary…

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Posted by Rebecca Pierce
08/28/2012  at  12:45 AM
Response to "Dude"

“Dude”,

I’m happy to answer your questions, but must respectfully contest many of the assertions you make here.

While I can see why the results would lead many to believe that this was the case, I disagree with the idea that the report was commissioned to only represent Jewish students with a particular relationship with Israel. While much of the document is dedicated to describing a specific subset of our community, that is both supportive of current Israeli policy and offended by Palestine organizing, the language of the report claims to have a broader scope.  The stated purpose was to “engage in fact-finding about the challenges and positive campus experiences of Jewish students at UC “, with no mention of a prerequisite political standing in regards to Israel.

I actually know many Jewish students across the UCs who participate in Palestine solidarity organizing, beyond that I know even more people, with varying views on the conflict, who feel that the report fails to reflect their experiences. These people also deserve to be included in any report claiming to represent our community as a whole. Since the report was released over 2,000 people, most affiliated with the UC or academia, have signed a petition asking Yudof to table the document.

With that said, I would also have a problem with the report if it used the term “hatred of Israelis”. I’ve personally lived and studied in Israel and it is a place I care about, with many people I care about calling it home. I also know several Israelis involved in CJP and other UC SJP groups.  So right off the bat the term is misrepresentative.

For me, Palestinian solidarity work is not about hating Israel, it is about advocating for equality by filling a gap in US understanding about the Palestinian people and the historical/contemporary denial of their human rights and self-determination. Branding this organizing as pure hate speech erases the experiences and narratives of the Palestinian people, and stigmatizes their very existence, not to mention their presence in our communities.

While I won’t claim that everything SJP groups do is perfect, demanding that all Palestinian related speech be couched in some justification of Israel’s actions reflects a huge double standard. These same demands are not being made of pro Israel groups that often deny the experiences, or even the existence of the Palestinian people, and at times portray them as universally violet/hateful. There are dialogue groups on many UC campuses, which CJP/SJP members including myself participate in, but I don’t think it is fair to impose a prerequisite of “dialogue” on all Palestinian speech, especially if you are unwilling to do so for other students.

Additionally I disagree with the idea that criticism of Israeli policy is inherently harmful to Israel’s security. Personally I think that Israel’s repression of the Palestinian people is damaging to the Israeli people as well. While it may be difficult for some to hear, criticizing harmful policies is a necessary part of working towards improving the situation in the region for everyone. If you go to CJP meetings you will often hear criticism of not only Israel, but the PA, Hamas, the US, the EU, and other governments.

Clearly we come from different perspectives, but I am able to empathize with those who feel targeted because of their political views. However, I do not believe silencing or placing undue conditions on speech we disagree with is ever the answer.

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Posted by Dan Spitzer
08/28/2012  at  07:39 AM
Ms. Pierce, Your Arguments are Nothing Short of Laughable...

You write:“I do not believe silencing or placing undue conditions on speech”

If that is the case, why do you and your fellow haters of Israel not condemn the suppression of free speech by both the PLA and Hamas? Clearly, you have blinders which has made your bigotry clear to all fair-minded people, on or off campus…

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Posted by Michael Harris
08/28/2012  at  10:40 PM
It's not as sweeping as you present it to be

There’s no demand that “all Palestinian related speech be couched in some justification of Israel’s actions.”  That’s hyperbole.  There is a demand that “Palestinian related speech” not cross the line into hate speech.  Or are you saying that it’s impossible to advocate for “Palestinian rights” without crossing that line?

Nor is it an issue of mere “criticism of Israeli policy”—what SJP (at least at UC Berkeley) “criticizes” is the very existence of Israel as a Jewish state.

So since you state that silencing of speech with which you disagree is “never the answer”, then if a white supremacist (say, for example, David Duke) were invited to speak on your campus, you would be OK with that? That’s not an unreasonable question, right?

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Posted by entatty
08/29/2012  at  01:11 AM
Why no defense of Rebecca

I’m a little disappointed Rebecca isn’t getting more support against the ad hominem hate-mongering of her oddly obsessive critics.  I was particularly struck by the fact that people who pretend to be concerned about hate speech have such a hard time writing more than a few lines without gratuitously attacking Palestinians. Fortunately Rebecca has eviscerated them with reason and facts.

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Posted by Dan Spitzer
08/29/2012  at  07:43 AM
"Entatty," How Can an Overt Hater Defend Herself from...

her clearly expressed bigotry?

This is a publication oriented toward the diversity of the Bay Area Jewish community and not the most marginal and tiny number of pro-Palesinian Jews who are doubtless outnumbered even by other marginal groups like Jews for Jesus.

Occasionally, fellow Israel haters like those of JVP spew their nonsense here, but they are basically loathed and laughed at by the Jewish community. Ditto the words of other “Jewish” representatives of the pro-Palestian minion whose numbers you could put on the head of a pin…

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Posted by Guy Herschmann
08/29/2012  at  12:58 PM
You're missing the point, many of you

Rebecca,

Let us be honest, and let us be clear—at least for the sake of our readers.

I think you’ll agree with me that there’s one Jewish state in the entire world, and that state is Israel. Anti Zionism is the denial of Jewish self-determination.
Denying self-determination to only one nation, that being Israel, while allowing all other nations to enjoy self-determination is discriminatory. It’s racist. It’s pure bigotry. 

This report is not about Jewish community politics. It’s about the University of California’s support for one-sided, often times anti-Semitic political organizing. The report does not advocate curtailing academic freedom or silencing students or faculty. Rather, it asks the UC to send a clear message: we will not provide legitimacy to hateful, bigoted events. We will not give legitimacy to groups that equate Zionism with racism and hurl the apartheid libel. The groups in question will not be silenced – you could still hold an Israel Apartheid Week or Palestinian Awareness Week on campus if you raised the money, printed posters yourself, etc. Campuses should not provide money, backing, and most importantly, legitimacy to these hateful events.

It’s not silencing free speech that’s in question. It’s never been about criticism of Israeli policies or actions. It’s about giving legitimacy to one-sided, oftentimes anti-Zionist/anti-Semitic political organizing, which at its core demeans and defames an entire group of people that the UC must stop doing.

Guy
UCSC

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Posted by Rebecca Pierce
08/29/2012  at  04:09 PM
Response to Guy

First off, I think it is incredibly bold of you to invoke the notions of “clarity” and “honesty” given that you still haven’t apologized or backed down from your absolutely hateful and defamatory screed against me. Frankly I don’t think there is much for the two of us to discuss until that happens. That comment was not only blatantly misrepresentative, it was clearly meant to discredit my voice and bully me into silence. Like I said, this is very unbecoming of the former leader of SCIAC and Northern CA’s StandWithUs chapter.

With that said, and at the risk of repeating myself, I’m going to address a few of the arguments you make here for the sake of the wider discussion on this issue. 

I’ve already explained why labeling Palestinian organizing as anti-Semitic is disingenuous, but I think it is important to mention that I am not the only one who thinks this. Over 2000 people, many of them Jewish, have signed a petition asking Yudof to table the report. Even prominent pro Israel figures, including Alan Dershowitz and Nicholas Saidel, have criticized the document.

If you read the actual recommendations you will see specific suggestions that the UC consider refusing sponsorship for annual Palestinian events. Like many ethnic orgs Palestinian student groups rely on school funding to put on their events. They don’t have outside organizations like StandWithUs to finance their speech, nor is anyone offering their members paid positions like the one you held/hold? at SWU. 

Not only would withholding sponsorship from Palestinian events be blatantly discriminatory, it would likely be illegal under state law, not to mention a violation of the first amendment. President Yudof and his spokespeople have already acknowledged this and seemingly backed down from parts of the report.

It is beyond disingenuous to claim that this discussion is not about censorship, but rather combating one-sidedness and racism. If that is truly the case then you should be open to similar scrutiny and restrictions being placed on SCIAC and StandWithUs. Both groups have been involved in painting Palestinians as universally violent, even denying their historical narratives and very existence. If you are truly concerned about student organizations demeaning and defaming entire groups of people, you should start with your own.

You seem very intent on lecturing me about what you claim to be my views on Zionism, while clearly you don’t actually know what they are. I am highly critical of ALL exclusivist forms of ethnic and religious nationalism, and exclusivist strains of Zionism do not get a free pass just because they are connected to my own ethnoreligous group.

I have lived in Israel and benefited from the privilege that Zionism grants me as a Jew, I have also personally seen the way that same state and ideology exclude and discriminate against Palestinians and non-Jewish migrants. I have no problem pointing out the basic disparity in the way these different groups of people are treated, and the fact that this is often based in racism.  That is absolutely not the same thing as wanting to deny self-determination to my own people, it is simply part of a wider commitment to equality and human rights.

If you wish to discuss any of this further, I suggest you do so personally and begin with an apology for falsely insinuating that I am anti-Semitic and somehow complicit in denying the Shoah.

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Posted by Michael Harris
08/29/2012  at  06:18 PM
Indeed, the straw man arguments are beyond disingenuous

Rebecca:

You clearly write with a great deal of intellect, as befits a UC student. But why then do you resort to so many straw man arguments that exaggerate or completely misstate the recommendations in the report?

Neither the report nor Guy’s statement states that Palestinian organizing is de facto anti-Semitic. However, “pro-Palestinian” activists themselves have been the ones who insist that Palestinian rights can only be achieved by denying those same rights to the Jewish people. They have been the ones that insisted on the false and defamatory “Israeli apartheid” meme.  They have been the ones that have brought anti-Semitic hate speakers to campuses. 
The report does not suggest withdrawing funds from Palestinian events, it suggests withdrawing funding from events that promote hate speech. Are you suggesting that it is impossible to hold a pro-Palestinian event WITHOUT hate speech?  I’m not suggesting that this is the case, I’m asking if you believe that it is.

I completely agree that UC should set up criteria that attempt to define hate speech and that these guidelines be applied to all groups.  I think that you will have a very hard time finding statements or materials from StandWithUs that refer to ALL Palestinians as universally violent. Now as far as denying their historical narrative, if a group creates a false history (cf Mahmoud Abbas’ “Zionist gangs stole Palestine”) and uses that for political ends, then anyone is entitled to use facts to disprove that narrative.  Despite the pseudohistorian Ilan Pappe ( “Indeed the struggle is about ideology, not about facts. Who knows what facts are? We try to convince as many people as we can that our interpretation of the facts is the correct one, and we do it because of ideological reasons, not because we are truthseekers,”) the facts and the truth DO matter.  So if the “pro-Palestinian” groups want to present a false version of history, then to correct that is not racist, it’s not discriminatory, it’s just the truth.

It’s fine that you oppose all exclusivist forms of ethnic and religious nationalism.  Of course, Israel is not exclusivist—as you have certainly noticed on your travels there. Yet the Palestinian Authority defines itself as an Islamic entity in the first paragraph of its constitution. It has a death penalty for selling land to Jews.  I’m sorry, which is the “exclusivist” entity here?

Rebecca, had “pro-Palestinian” groups been advocating for the creation of a Palestinian state that would agree to live in peace and mutual recognition alongside the Jewish state, not only would this report not have been necessary but many pro-Israel students would have joined the effort.  Instead, it has been the choice of these groups to deny the legitimacy of the state of Israel, to promote hate speech and foster anti-Semitism, to violate existing university regulations, and to openly intimidate pro-Israel students. Maybe your group at UCSC didn’t do that, but groups at other UC campuses have.  And that’s why this report was issued.

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Posted by Guy Herschmann
08/29/2012  at  07:02 PM
Rebecca, Thank you for responding.

Rebecca,

Thank you for responding. Look, I don’t think we need to be worried about how my words make StandWithUs, or SCIAC look. Because it’s not about StandWithUs or SCIAC.  By the way, I don’t represent the Northern California chapter of StandWithUs (and haven’t been since early August), and need to be upfront about that. I represent myself and many Jewish students who share my feelings.

There is a reason the climate committee did not call for limits to campus-sponsored events put on by pro-Israel groups. The reason is that our positions are honest and realistic, our respect for Palestinian self-determination is obvious, and our methods are conducive to dialogue and conversation. Contrast this with campus-sponsored “pro-Palestinian” (anti-Zionist) programming.

I could list all programs that the Committee for Justice in Palestine has hosted the past four years. And let me tell you what: I think an overwhelming majority of them are anti Zionist. They brand Israel as an apartheid. Members of the CJP have called Jewish students supportive of Israel Nazis. I can think of one prominent example, which is well-documented.

It’s time to put an end to the UC’s support for bigotry—and yes, the positions taken by the Committee for Justice in Palestine are bigoted. For the most part, they aren’t critical, objective analysis. They portray Israel as the worst of all nations, and call for collective punishment of Jews and Israeli. YES—that creates a hostile environment for many of our peers, and the University should not provide support for such groups.

Guy

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Posted by Guy Herschmann
08/29/2012  at  09:19 PM
One more point

I wanted to echo a part of Mike’s point above.

“Rebecca, had “pro-Palestinian” groups been advocating for the creation of a Palestinian state that would agree to live in peace and mutual recognition alongside the Jewish state, not only would this report not have been necessary but many pro-Israel students would have joined the effort.”

I would have joined you in this effort, as would have the majority of Jewish students on campus.

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Posted by Chris Smith
08/30/2012  at  01:47 PM
I don't support Israel, but CJP has silenced City on a Hill Writers

I have never supported Israel. I don’t have strong feelings about the subject, but my sympathies were always with the Palestinians and their struggle for statehood. I am not too educated about the conflict, but I want a just solution that gives the Palestinians a state. Quite frankly, they’ve waited for too long.

I became disillusioned with the Committee for Justice in Palestine following their intense lobbying efforts on campus. These efforts   some of our writers, who did try to remain objective in their reporting of campus events. I personally witnessed members of the Committee successfully drive the paper into squashing articles that did not depict Israel really negatively.

Again, I’ve never been a supporter of Israel but some of the methods of the CJP have really shocked me. Pro-Israel students and Pro-Palestinian students deserve a voice on campus. CJP prevailed in squashing voices that disagreed with them, and I disagree with the methods of this organization while still supporting Palestinian rights.

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Posted by Chris Smith
08/30/2012  at  01:49 PM
I don't support Israel, but CJP has silenced City on a Hill Writers

I have never supported Israel. I don’t have strong feelings about the subject, but my sympathies were always with the Palestinians and their struggle for statehood. I am not too educated about the conflict, but I want a just solution that gives the Palestinians a state. Quite frankly, they’ve waited for too long.

I became disillusioned with the Committee for Justice in Palestine following their intense lobbying efforts on campus. These efforts silenced some of our writers, who did try to remain objective in their reporting of campus events. I personally witnessed members of the Committee successfully drive the paper into squashing articles that did not depict Israel really negatively.

Again, I’ve never been a supporter of Israel but some of the methods of the CJP have really shocked me. Pro-Israel students and Pro-Palestinian students deserve a voice on campus. CJP prevailed in squashing voices that disagreed with them, and I disagree with the methods of this organization while still supporting Palestinian rights.

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Posted by Rebecca Pierce
08/30/2012  at  02:47 PM
Guy and Chris

Guy,

If you’re not worried about harming the organizations you used to belong to, you should at least worry about harming your own credibility. Falsely accusing someone of being an anti-semite and a minimizer of the holocaust is hardly a method “conducive to dialogue and conversation”. It is a bullying tactic pure and simple, and it reflects back onto every other spurious claim you make here.

As is clear from my previous responses I’m happy to respond to respectful questions posed by my fellow students, but it is impossible for me to engage with someone who won’t back down from insulting and defaming me in one of the most personally offensive manners conceivable.

I’m sorry but you have illustrated too deep of a level of disrespect for me as a person to allow me to continue this discussion.

Chris,
What articles did we quash exactly? My experience has been the opposite. CHP released an incredibly problematic article that demonized CJP and never followed through on their promise to provide another piece article balancing it out. We don’t have input in their editorial process so I have a hard time seeing how we could have prevented something from being published.

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Posted by Michael Harris
08/30/2012  at  09:15 PM
Rebecca: How about answering my questions, then?

Rebecca:  Since I haven’t defamed you and you seem to be willing to engage in dialogue, I’m still curious as to your answers to my questions as noted above:

1. There’s no demand that “all Palestinian related speech be couched in some justification of Israel’s actions.”  That’s hyperbole.  There is a demand that “Palestinian related speech” not cross the line into hate speech.  Or are you saying that it’s impossible to advocate for “Palestinian rights” without crossing that line?  Are you suggesting that it is impossible to hold a pro-Palestinian event WITHOUT hate speech?
2. since you state that silencing of speech with which you disagree is “never the answer”, then if a white supremacist (say, for example, David Duke) were invited to speak on your campus—FUNDED by the student government—you would be OK with that?

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Posted by Rebecca Pierce
08/30/2012  at  10:47 PM
Michael

1) I was responding to a specific question posed by another commenter when I made that remark, and I’ve heard something very close to that demand thrown around quite frequently. The commenter did not object to my phrasing.

In no way am I saying that it is “impossible to hold a pro-Palestinian event without hate speech”.  My whole point is that it is wrong to falsely conflate the two, and I feel like that should have been clear if you read my article.

2) I would certainly feel uncomfortable if David Duke was speaking on campus, but he has the same first amendment rights that I do. I would, however, exercise my own right to protest against him.

I sincerely hope you are not implying that my speech in support of Palestinian rights is anything close to that of the former leader of the KKK. I don’t think I need to explain again just how false and offensive that comparison is.

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Posted by Michael Harris
08/31/2012  at  10:12 AM
Not implying anything of the kind

No, definitely no implication at all—just wanted to see if your principle, that there should be no restriction on campus-funded hate speech, was consistent. It is, and that’s fine—it would have been extraordinarily hypocritical had you said that hate speech of one kind was OK but of another kind should be stopped. David Duke was about the most egregious example that I could use (though Farrakhan would have also been appropriate).
It remains a point of legitimate debate as to whether this principle should take precedence over other principles—fostering community on campus, fostering a safe environment where students do not feel they are targeted because of their background, etc.  That’s why even supporters of Israel can legitimately disagree on this.  I happen to feel that orchestrating an intimidating atmosphere directed at one group of students—and using campus resources to do so—is not an appropriate activity on our university campuses.

And since you agree that it is indeed quite possible to hold a pro-Palestinian event without resorting to hate speech, why then do you claim above that the report is “demanding that all Palestinian related speech be couched in some justification of Israel’s actions”?  Nor does the report suggest withholding funding from all “pro-Palestinian events”—only the ones with hate speech as an integral component, such as the atrocity called “Israel Apartheid Week”. 

You can have a pro-Palestinian event without using hate speech.  You really can. Try it for once.

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Posted by Rebecca Pierce
08/31/2012  at  12:50 PM
Michael

What was the point in demanding that I respond to your questions if you weren’t even going to pay attention to my response?

I never said “the report is demanding that all Palestinian related speech be couched in some justification of Israel’s actions”. I was responding to a specific question posed by someone else.

However, if you actually read the report, the first recommendation asks for the UC to “develop model institutional protocols” for “sponsorship and neutrality”. The language that follows makes it clear that this is explicitly targeted at Palestinian organizing. While that particular segment uses the term “Israeli Apartheid Week”, this is used almost interchangeably with “Palestinian Awareness” in the body of the document. So even if I had said that, which I didn’t, it might not have been that far off the mark.

My values are based in support for constitutional rights, not hate speech. Public institutions are not legally allowed to restrict speech based on content and lose time and time again in court when they try to. You have no basis for claiming that I’m involved in hate speech or that I support it, unless of course you think all speech in defense of Palestinian rights should be defined as such.

Since the quality of our conversation seems to have devolved somewhat (and you are in fact insulting me at this point) I think this is as good a time as any to take leave of it and enjoy the rest of my summer.

להתראות

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Posted by Frank
08/31/2012  at  09:59 PM
JWeekly provides a propaganda outlet for antisemitism

Why would a “Jewish” publication print this garbage?  Something is deeply wrong at JWeekly.

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Posted by Michael Harris
08/31/2012  at  11:55 PM
Too easily insulted?

For someone involved in activities entitled “Israel Apartheid Week”, it’s rather hard for me to see what I said that offended Rebecca so.  Perhaps her position was just too untenable to defend.  After all, I had just suggested that it was possible to have a pro-Palestinian event without resorting to hate speech, and then I was accused of saying exactly the opposite.
I guess that’s one way to avoid defending a losing proposition.

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Posted by Rebecca Pierce
09/01/2012  at  12:40 AM
Point of Clarification

UCSC does not have Israel Apartheid Week. We have a Palestine Awareness Week.

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Posted by Michael Harris
09/01/2012  at  11:31 AM
then just stay away from hate speech

So as long as the content of your own events stays away from hate speech, you’ll find that any guidelines that the university prepares won’t be negatively affecting them.
  But please don’t try to pretend that your colleagues elsewhere in the UC system have not engaged in overt hate speech with regard to Israel.

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