Letter warns U.C. president of unions anti-Israel propaganda

A letter signed by 12 groups was sent this week to Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California, urging her to intervene to ensure anti-Semitic propaganda is not brought into university classrooms.

The letter was sent in the wake of what the Amcha Initiative, a nonprofit that aims to combat anti-Semitism on college campuses, called “a scathing anti-Semitic statement released by the [leadership of the U.C. Student-Workers Union] promoting the boycott of Israel and exclaiming the need to ‘educate’ others on the ‘settler-colonial’ and ‘apartheid’ nature of the Jewish state.”

On July 29, the joint council of UAW 2865 — the 83 elected representatives of some 13,000 teaching assistants, tutors and other student workers in the U.C. system — issued a statement outlining its support for the boycott, sanctions and divestment movement, and its intent to seek a full-membership vote in support of BDS in the upcoming academic year.

The letter to Napolitano, according to an Aug. 12 press release, was sent from the Amcha Initiative, Americans for Peace and Tolerance, the Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, Hasbara Fellowships, the Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel, Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, StandWithUs, the Lawfare Project and the Zionist Organization of America.

“While we support the right of every member of the UAW 2865 to exercise his or her freedom of speech outside of the instructional setting,” the letter stated, “we are greatly concerned that these union members, who are responsible for instructing undergraduate students on nine U.C. campuses, will bring their unscholarly, politically motivated and anti-Semitic propaganda and advocacy into U.C. classrooms, where it certainly does not belong.”

The letter said that teaching “one-sided propaganda which falsely alleges that Israel is a ‘settler-colonial’ and ‘apartheid’ state worthy of elimination and promoting an anti-Semitic boycott of Israel do not constitute education but unabashed political indoctrination, which is expressly forbidden by the U.C. Regents [policy].” The text of the letter can be seen at www.bit.ly/letter-amcha.

In contrast to U.C. student government resolutions supporting BDS, which have no financial impact as the U.C. system routinely dismisses them, a BDS resolution passed by UAW 2865 would seek, the July 29 statement noted, to remove pension fund investments from “companies that profit off of the Israeli occupation.”