Various UCLA students urged members of the UC Board of Regents to take a stronger stand against antisemitism during the public comment sessions of the Regents’ board meetings on May 18 and 19.
According to transcripts obtained by the Journal, fourth-year student and StandWithUs Alumni Network Liaison Chloe Levian pointed to the UCLA Asian American Studies’ May 2021 statement accusing Israel of “yellow-washing” to distract the world from “the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.” “My family fled antisemitism during the revolution in Iran and they went to the two places that were supposed to be safe: Israel and the United States,” she said. “It was supposed to be different here but unfortunately as a senior whose college experience consisted of constantly combating antisemitism, it does not feel different. The department’s statement made my identity feel insignificant.” Levian called for the UC Regents to “address this factually incorrect and offensive statement as it is in direct conflict with their Principles Against Intolerance.”
A third-year transfer student who only wished to be identified as “Carmel” recalled seeing “Free Free Palestine, From the River to the Sea” graffiti scrawled on the campus walls. “A call for the genocide of the Jewish people from Israel was stained onto UCLA’s walls, filling me with an immediate feeling of danger, discomfort, and fear,” Carmel said. “I reported the incident, and was met with a lack of urgency. Why is the safety of Jewish students on UC campuses not valued? Graffiti and language such as this has no space on UC campuses and should not be tolerated.” She added that the UC Regents need “to stand in solidarity with the Jewish community and stay committed to creating a safe educational space for all students by upholding the Principles Against Intolerance.”
Another student, who only wanted to be identified as “Danielle,” made the case against Students for Justice in Palestine’s (SJP) lobbying for the UC system to divest from Israeli partnerships. “Academic partnerships between the United States and Israel further groundbreaking developments in technology, medicine, agriculture, and the arts. Thus, investment in Israel saves lives,” Danielle said. “Each one of us can learn from Israel’s achievements, to benefit our campus community with what we learn. The call for divestment that we are seeing isn’t about Israeli policies, it’s about silencing the voices of Israel-inspired students by criminalizing a country that has contributed to the world more than all of those who seek her destruction.”
A first-year student, Kylie, recounted that two weeks into her first quarter on campus at UCLA, she witnessed SJP issue “Long live the intifada!” chants. “This chant glorifies an era of suicide bombings, rocket attacks, and shootings that targeted Jews across Israel,” Kylie said. In reality, it is a call for violence just meters away from where my brother studies. In the UC Divest demonstration held on campus two weeks ago, organizers displayed antisemitic posters conveying that Jews control Hollywood and perform blood libel.” She added that she has been subjected to screams of “Free Palestine!” after leaving the campus Hillel building and that the building has been tagged with graffiti stating “f— settler colonial state aka USA and Israel projects of Genocide, Free Palestine.” “The UCLA community doesn’t even respect my home away from home,” Kylie lamented. “Many Jewish students on UCLA’s campus feel unsafe, politicized, vilified, and dehumanized. We are grateful for [the Regents’] statement on antisemitism in the Principles Against Intolerance. We ask that you reaffirm your commitment to these principles.”
Jasmine Beroukhim, a third-year student, said that the Jewish community at UCLA is “exhausted from seeing disturbing, ignorant, and inexcusable acts of antisemitism taking place across our country and campus. There is a shared feeling among us that we are continuously fighting antisemitism alone because when it comes to antisemitism the momentum stops.” Beroukhim argued that anti-Israel divestment campaigns embolden “students to commit hate crimes against Jews on campus.” “At UCLA, Jewish students were sent hateful messages such as ‘F—ng Jews. Give the Palestinians back their land, go back to Poland or whatever freezer-state you’re from,’” she said. “A college campus should feel like a home away from home, where our peers are here to support us, not target us. When the vast majority of Jews say something is harmful to them, you need to listen to them.”