U.C. prodded on anti-Semitism definition

In a March 19 letter to University of California president Janet Napolitano and the Board of Regents, 23 education and Jewish advocacy groups urged the school to adopt the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism. That definition states that anti-Semitism may manifest as anti-Israel action and speech.

Decrying Israel divestment measures passed by U.C. student senates and incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti, the letter noted that “What these [incidents] have in common is that they are an inevitable consequences of pervasive anti-Israel activity, particularly boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) campaigns, being promoted on U.C. campuses.”

State Department guidelines equate anti-Semitism with such actions as using symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism to characterize Israel or Israelis, drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis, and denying Israel the right to exist.

The letter urged the university to authorize training of campus administrators to “identify anti-Semitic behavior, and develop clear protocols for addressing campus anti-Semitism with the same promptness and vigor as they do other forms of racial, ethnic, and gender bigotry and discrimination.”

Signatories to the letter include the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, the Amcha Initiative, the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, the Israeli-American Council and StandWithUs.