Dear Hollywood, Are Your UCLA Donations Funding Anti-Semitism?
Richard Stellar, SF Gate
September 8, 2016
For decades, UCLA has served as a training ground for Hollywood, producing the likes of Francis Ford Coppola, Rob Reiner and Stacey Snider.
But alumni to this institution should be aware that their donations are now enabling anti-Semitism and creating an environment that can be potentially dangerous to Jewish students.
Just recently, UCLA Graduate Law Student Milan Chatterjee said he was driven out of UCLA through a coordinated smear campaign. You may be scratching your head, and trying to figure out if “Chatterjee” is a Jewish name. It’s not. Chatterjee is a Hindu of Indian descent. He’s about as Jewish as the Maharishi is Irish — yet he is suffering the same fate as Jewish students who find themselves up against Students for Justice in Palestine and its campaign to “Boycott, Divest and Sanction” Israel in retribution for the Palestinian conflict in that country.
SJP and pro-BDS activists have targeted Chatterjee only because he, speaking for the Graduate Students Association, planned to enforce a “viewpoint tolerant” rule when approached to fund a Diversity Caucus event. Chatterjee’s stipulation: No pro- or anti-Israeli demonstrations.
Because Chatterjee defended this stipulation, he became the target of an anti-Semitic backlash whose tentacles of hate tend to wrap around anyone who crosses SJP. As Milan attempted to take a step back, he fell over the cowering form of UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, who scurried away and hid while Milan was pilloried in what became a public shaming.
It looks like the Diversity Caucus and SJP got their BDS face-off after all, on the back of a person whose only crime was assisting in getting funded for a so-called diversity event.
UCLA has suffered a history of anti-Semitism that lately has reached a fever pitch of hate and hypocrisy.
It was just a year ago that UCLA’s Student Council denied undergraduate Rachel Beyda a seat on its Judicial Board, citing concerns that Rachel’s Jewish faith might affect her decision-making abilities.
Where was Chancellor Block’s statement on this? I couldn’t get a statement from him, or any words on this subject even after several attempts were made. He claimed in an article by Jared Sichel in the Jewish Journal that BDS “isn’t going to be sustained on this campus.”
He was right. BDS is not merely sustained. BDS is nurtured and fertilized by the silence of Chancellor Block and the UCLA hierarchy that can sound the alarm.
Last year, a UCLA student employed at the UCLA Medical Center launched a profane, anti-Jewish racial rant on Facebook responding to a pro-Israel post by “The Big Bang Theory” actress and UCLA alum Mayim Bialik.
After many raised concerns about the bias and profanity in this employee’s social-media statements, UCLA issued a response as if this was a First Amendment issue. It was more than that.
What was Chancellor Block’s response? There was none.
“He’s a wimp,” complained one leading Jewish religious figure in Los Angeles.
Had the SJP gone after a visible minority, I suspect they would have been quickly and rightly dispatched. But BDS’ers direct their ire almost exclusively at mostly Jewish, mostly white students who support Israel. It is that double standard that threatens every Jewish student on campus.
UCLA isn’t the only campus in the UC system whose Jewish community is at Defcon 2. During a screening of the Israeli Defense Forces documentary “Beneath the Helmet” at UC Irvine, a Jewish student was corralled and 10 UCI students were threatened by Students for Justice in Palestine. A statement issued by The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law recognized that what was happening at UC Irvine and at UCLA with Chatterjee “suggests a pattern in which Jewish and non-Jewish students are under assault.”
And what of Milan Chatterjee? Every day seems to bring more swipes at his personality and more attempts to destroy his reputation.
“I’m very disappointed that Chancellor Block and his administration did not provide me with any of the necessary support or guidance to overcome the harassment and bullying by BDS,” Chatterjee told me.
As UCLA turns away from its responsibility to provide a safe environment for Jewish students, they continue to punish non-Jewish students like Chatterjee. Chancellor Block’s silence is deafening. The potential for harm to Jewish students increases every day that this hate speech is left unchecked.
The entertainment industry must address this situation before someone gets hurt. History has shown us just what the final act involves. We all need to be there for the Jewish students whose only crime is voicing a pro-Israel attitude and standing up for their rights to study in an environment that is not threatening. We need to have a zero tolerance attitude toward anti-Semitism, and identify those who, by their silence, support intolerance and persecution.