Opinions | Anti-Semitism is the last acceptable form of campus bigotry

Like many in the Jewish community, I was very upset, though not surprised, to learn about the recent events at UCLA, instigated and led by Students for Justice in Palestine (“UCLA student court hears case against accepting Israel trips,” May 23).

SJP is an anti-Semitic student group whose sole purpose is the eradication of the Jewish state. In the past, SJP has hosted notorious Jew-hater Imam Abdul Malik Ali on campus. Malik Ali is famous for his support of Hamas, the terrorist organization committed to the destruction of Israel, and genocide against Jews worldwide. He has also proclaimed, “Zionism must be destroyed. Every aspect of them.”

SJP, along with other groups, asked candidates running for UCLA student government to sign a statement by which they pledged not to take trips to Israel that are sponsored by pro-Israel organizations, such as the Anti-Defamation League and American Israel Public Affairs Committee. This petition is a new form of McCarthyism and seeks to eliminate from the debate certain points of views — ones held by most Jewish students.

SJP claims that funded trips to Israel present a conflict of interest for candidates of student government because of the issue of BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) against Israel. However, BDS is an illegitimate issue that has no place in student government — UCLA’s own student government defeated a BDS resolution in February.

Sunny Singh, who ran for UCLA student body president, did not sign the pledge promising not to take subsidized trips to Israel, saying, “I ran to increase efficiency and get more mental health resources on campus…not because I wanted to weigh in on world affairs.” Singh was ridiculed for going on a trip to Israel sponsored by the ADL and lost by 31 votes to a student who signed the pledge.

Not satisfied with the bigoted pledge, anti-Israel forces on campus also conducted show trials through UCLA’s Judicial Board, where students who went on sponsored trips to Israel with Jewish groups were interrogated in an attempt to invalidate their February vote on BDS. Thankfully, this attempt failed.

There is no doubt that the BDS campaign against Israel is fueled by anti-Semitism, no matter where it is raised, because it seeks to isolate only Israel as a unique menace, undeserving of normal relations with the rest of the world. Where are the calls on college campuses to boycott Saudi Arabia, where women aren’t allowed to drive, or Russia and Brunei, which have instituted anti-gay laws, or Iran for hanging gays and persecuting journalists?

Despite widespread abuses of human rights throughout the world, the only country on college campuses subject to such vitriol is Israel, the only true democracy and inclusive country in the Middle East. Arabs constitute about 10 percent of the Israeli parliament, and an Arab sits on the Israeli High Court. Israeli universities are filled with Arab students, and the only place in the Middle East where Arabs have true freedom of speech and association is in Israel. Calling Israel an apartheid state, and urging divestment, is not only a lie, but it cheapens the true evil of actual apartheid as it was experienced in South Africa.

Anti-Semitism is clearly that last acceptable form of bigotry on college campuses today. There is zero tolerance for sexism, racism or homophobia. If any other minority group were singled out and ridiculed the way that pro-Israel Jews were by this disgusting petition, UCLA’s administration would not stand for it.

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and University of California President Janet Napolitano have responded with statements condemning the petition. However, they did not go nearly far enough, as each failed to mention the main culprit in this incident — SJP and its anti-Semitic platform.

Imagine if an on-campus group circulated a petition for student candidates to sign, pledging that they would not participate in any activities sponsored or funded by the NAACP. How would the black community react to this? How would the leadership at UCLA react? This activity would not be permitted, and discipline would be meted out to those responsible.

Jewish and pro-Israel UCLA students and alumni should not stand for this bigotry and should make their voices heard by the school’s administrators. Tell them that UCLA’s Jewish students, and supporters of Israel, must be afforded the same respect and protections as any other group on campus.

Sam Levine is the executive director of ZOA West. He lives in Lafayette.