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Thursday, October 25, 2012 | return to: views, letters


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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


Comments

Posted by Michael Harris
10/25/2012  at  01:43 PM
Campus climate vs anti-Semitic incidents

I don’t claim any specific insider knowledge of the overall climate for Jewish students at our UC campuses. And there is indeed a difference between scattered incidents, and a climate that is—in part—created by the university refusing to enforce its own regulations, as when the UC Davis campus police refused to remove the heckler at the event described above (and the heckler himself admitted that he was paid to disrupt the event; he was not acting on his own at all), or when UC Berkeley refuses to enforce its own regulations against wielding fake firearms and blocking the passage of students across the campus. Even though such events may be limited in time and in number, they can have a cumulative effect. 

I’m glad that Professor Wolf believes that she has only encountered anti-Semitism once in 23 years at Davis.  However, as she is someone who signed a letter in support of the students who disrupted Ambassador Oren’s speech at UCI several years ago, her definition of anti-Semitism may be somewhat different from mine.

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Posted by dlw
10/25/2012  at  06:37 PM
The heckler stated he had

The heckler stated he had been paid by someone but then later recanted that.    The letter in question was a petition signed by 30 professors of Jewish Studies from all the UCs to the D.A. who had charged the students at Irvine with a felony.  The petition stated that while we did not necessarily condone their methods, we did not think they were guilty of a felony.  Facts are useful.

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Posted by Frank
10/25/2012  at  11:49 PM
Diane Wolf

I never heard of her.  But having read Mr. Harris’ comments, and the following web page, it appears that she is part of the problem.


http://www.bluetruth.net/2011/11/uc-davis-jewish-studies-program.html

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Posted by Matthew White
10/26/2012  at  10:28 AM
Correction on Davis Heckler

With all respect to Jaclyn and Ruth, whose feelings are absolutely valid and who are indeed students at UC Davis (unlike myself), I have to disagree strongly with them on the subject of the IDF event in February. As the moderator of that event, I had to watch for an hour and a half as various students from SJP, MSA, and MEChA trashed the event. They shouted, banged on the walls, walked back and forth, waved flags, and booed. They shouted things out so often, one might have thought it was a Rocky Horror Picture Show screening. Many of those who got up in the “silent, respectful walkout” returned and continued to heckle. Those responsible for said walkout very respectfully (and anti-Semitically) referred to a Jewish professor on their (SJP’s) Facebook page as Professor Sh—stein. During the heckling, my Jewish star necklace was audibly compared to a swastika. The infamous “main heckler” is what sticks in everyone’s memory, but as the guy at the front of the room, I’m surprised at how quickly people are willing to forget or not even realize how the rest of the anti-Israel protesters continued to harass and interrupt for the entirety of the event. This isn’t hearsay—again, I’m saying this as the moderator of the event itself.

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Posted by AP1
10/27/2012  at  09:23 PM
Frank-- Regardless of whether you

Frank—
Regardless of whether you have heard from her or not, to cite a Rabble Rouser’s so called “study” is foolish when considering the authorship.  To Rubin it seems, not supporting every single action of the state of Israel is hardly support.

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Posted by AP1
10/27/2012  at  09:28 PM
Matthew, you say this as

Matthew, you say this as if its some chore that you “had” to do.  Yes, there was a lot of disrespect prior to the walkout.  Comparing the event to RHPS trivializes the event, and is a poor attempt at a punch line.  You are correct, they were disrespectful to the audience, to the presenters, and to the faculty.  Although saying the harassed and interrupted the entire time is incorrect.  Additionally, it is important to separate out SJP disrupters, the heckler, and respectful MSA and SJP students.

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Posted by Frank
10/27/2012  at  10:53 PM
To malign a pro-Israel advocate

To malign a pro-Israel advocate is an odd response to what purports to be a simple reporting of facts by Ms. Rubin.  The web page is entitled: “UC Davis Jewish Studies Program Presents the Anti-Israel Narrative and Censors Questions.” What “study”? 

The web page describes the UCD “Program”, then chaired by Ms. Wolf, and her introducing an anti-Israel propagandist who spewed “anti-Zionist, anti-Israel charges and distortions”.  It also described (as did Mr. Harris) Ms. Wolf signing a letter in support of the muslim students who disrupted Ambassador Oren’s speech in Irvine:

http://www.bluetruth.net/2011/11/uc-davis-jewish-studies-program.html

The only “rabble rousers” are the vile enemies of Jews and the Jewish State of Israel, and those who would bring them onto college campuses so that the “rabble” could attack and intimidate Jewish students.

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Posted by Jack Kessler
10/29/2012  at  06:23 AM
Reading these letters.....

leads one to the conclusion that Jaclyn Deitch and Ruth Levine are having a problem with either telling the truth or have a shaky grasp on reality.  It seems to be the consensus that their protest was neither silent nor respectful.  Perhaps they and their fellow students should consider the moral value of a political position that requires lies to defend it.

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Posted by Gail@SWU
10/29/2012  at  03:39 PM
Legal Facts on Irvine 11: No Heckler's Veto on Other's Right to Free Speech

Professor Wolf:the Irvine 11 were charged with two misdemeanors: 1) violation of Penal Code Sec. 182(a) conspiracy to commit a crime, a misdemeanor; and 2) violation of Penal Code Sec. 403 (disturbance of public assembly or meeting), a misdemeanor. They were convicted under both counts, with community service and no jail time. The Irvine 11 did not commit the kind of crime that would be subject to a felony conviction, according to the law. You may review the District Attorney’s Complaint (formal charges) under Case No. 11CM1351, OCDA SA 10-114. To say you and others signed the petition to stop an unjust felony conviction is simply not accurate.

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowtiz had this to say about the Orange County D.A.‘s case: “It was a good day for the First Amendment when the prosecutor decided to apply the law to their censorial conduct. It was another good day for the First Amendment when the jury appropriately convicted them. And I hope it will be yet another good day for the First Amendment when the appellate courts affirm this constitutionally just conviction.”.


Gail Rubin J.D.

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