Tammi Rossman-Benjamin is a lecturer in Hebrew and Jewish Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Chairman of NCJA’s Academia and Campus Life Committee.
Mark Yudof, president of the University of California, claims that two federal complaints against his university, alleging a hostile environment for Jewish students, are without merit. While expressing general support for the recent extension of the provisions of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include Jewish students, Yudof does not believe that the situation on UC campuses rises to the standards of the federal statute. He recently told the Forward: “I think it is about people engaged in abhorrent speech on our campuses. But I am skeptical at the end of the day that with those two instances we will be found to be in violation of Title VI.”
As a lecturer at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the author of a Title VI complaint filed on behalf of Jewish students at my university, which has been under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education since March 2011, I strongly disagree with Yudof’s assessment.
Although he implies that the primary target of my complaint is “abhorrent speech” on campus, this is simply not so. Rather, my complaint focuses on university faculty and administrators who have regularly and egregiously abused their positions as employees of a public university and violated the tenets of their profession to promote their own virulently anti-Israel political agenda, which in turn has had deleterious effects on many Jewish students.
Consider the following examples included in my complaint:
1) A conference titled “Alternative Histories Within and Beyond Zionism” took place at UCSC, sponsored by eight departments. Four professors and one graduate student, none of them scholars of Israel or the Middle East, though all of them self-proclaimed anti-Zionists and anti-Israel activists, delivered papers demonizing the Jewish state, denigrating its founding ideology and promoting efforts to harm Israel, such as divestment campaigns. The five talks were replete with lies, distortions and gross misrepresentations of the facts, including claims that Zionism is racism; Israel is an apartheid state; Israel commits heinous crimes against humanity, including genocide and ethnic cleansing; Israel’s behavior is comparable to Nazi Germany, and Jews exaggerate the Holocaust as a tool of Zionist propaganda. All five speakers agreed that Israel should be dismantled as a Jewish state.