Five campus Jewish groups and fraternities say they don't agree with a call to boycott the University of California, Irvine because of tensions involving Muslim students.
A joint letter released Monday says dialogue and peace-seeking efforts are the way to address hateful speakers and programs from the Muslim Student Union.
The New York-based Zionist Organization of America has accused UCI's chancellor of failing to condemn anti-Semitic speech and has asked potential students and donors to boycott the campus.
Last week, B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin have sent a letter to the chancellor of the University of California, Irvine, expressing “deep dismay at the severe and persistent anti-Semitic harassment experienced by Jewish students at the University of California, Irvine.”
The letter was sent following recent anti-Israel demonstrations at a campus appearance by Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, where students repeatedly disrupted his remarks. Such heated protests contribute to a persistent atmosphere of hatred and intimidation for Jewish students at the school, the Jewish group said.
B’nai B’rith also provided Chancellor Michael Drake a copy of the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency’s working definition of anti-Semitism that has been in worldwide use since 2005, in the hope it will be used to help students and faculty better understand and identify all forms of anti-Semitism. B’nai B’rith helped develop this description as an essential tool for educators, government officials, journalists, and others to understand contemporary manifestations of anti-Semitism.
'Don't turn blind eye to intolerance'
The letter to the chancellor notes, “Sadly, the hate-filled demonstrations surrounding the appearance by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren at UCI on February 8 were merely recent examples of the anti-Semitic animus that has resulted in the intimidation of the school’s Jewish population for many years.
“Too often, anti-Israel messages propounded on the UCI campus have far exceeded the line separating legitimate policy criticism from anti-Semitic polemics. B’nai B’rith therefore calls on your administration to recognize these manifestations of anti-Semitism as precisely that and to condemn them as such.”
The letter asks the university to make combating the insidious anti-Semitism on campus a high priority.
“The university’s leadership must make clear that denial of the Jewish right to self-determination - to peace and security for Jews in their homeland - is, very simply, anti-Semitism. And to intimidate and incite against Jews - in speeches, sermons, placards, demonstrations, and publications - is most certainly anti-Semitism. We implore the UCI administration not to turn a blind eye to intolerance.”