On April 15th, the University of California – Santa Barbara (UCSB) Student Senate rejected a BDS resolution by a short majority, with 13 no, 12 yes and one abstention. The resolution was calling UCSB to divest from Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Caterpillar, and Hewlett Packard. This resolution comes just two weeks after the groundbreaking UCSB resolution condemning the growth of campus anti-Semitism. The anti-Semitism resolution, passed unanimously (with one abstention) stemmed from widespread anti-Israelism on campus, in the University of California (UC) school system, and around the world. While UCLA and UC Berkeley Student Senates also recently passed resolutions condemning anti-Semitism, the UCSB resolution differs in that it stresses the critical role of anti-Israelism in the rise of anti-Semitism.
Anti-Semitism is surging not only in Europe, but also on American college campuses. The recent LDB-Trinity College report pointed out that over 50% of Jewish American college students experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism on their campuses during the 2013-2014 academic year.
The resolution adopted at UCSB integrates the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
It incorporates examples of “classic” anti-Semitism (such as calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews; making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as a collective—especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions; and accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust), and anti-Semitism relative to Israel (demonizing Israel, delegitimizing Israel, or holding Israel to a double standard).
The resolution endorses an awareness of anti-Semitism through education. It plans training for future Senators on the history of anti-Semitism and its manifestations today, as well as advocates the incoming Senators to work for the incorporation of more courses on Judaism or Jewish History.
I myself studied at UCSB this past semester, and the number of classes on Judaism/Jewish History is indeed very limited. Whereas Hebrew classes are taught every year, a lot of the Jewish Studies Department classes displayed on the website are not instructed, such as many classes on the Holocaust.
The resolution sponsored by UCSB students Arezu Hashemi and Sarah Tagger, condemns “all forms of anti-Semitism, including the incidents at UC Davis, UCLA, UCSB.. In this way, it condemns a long series of anti-Semitic acts at UCSB, including a swastika found in 2013 on campus, flyers blaming Jews for 9/11 posted on campus and a student senator claiming “Israel is harvesting organs in the Sinai Peninsula.”
During the meeting, Arezu, a third-year history and religious studies double major, shared her thoughts about anti-Semitism with the student government. She pointed out to the audience that her first encounter with anti-Semitism occurred when she entered UCSB. She continued: “I don’t tell most people that I’m Jewish, and I definitely don’t tell them that I’m pro-Israel. I actively hide these things because I’m scared. Forget the fact that people treat me differently, forget the fact that I’m subjected to racial remarks and slurs. I’m scared for my safety.”
Despite this condemnation of anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism, UCSB is still facing problems. Two weeks ago, an anti-Israel “Apartheid Wall” was displayed on campus, yesterday during the public forum on the BDS resolution, the Jewish-hatred atmosphere was clear.
The Student Senate needs to initiate immediate procedures: condemning anti-Semitism with words is not enough, it is time to condemn it with actions.