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Unfortunately, this lecture was not an anomaly. It is symptomatic of attitudes in the UC Davis Jewish Studies Program and elsewhere in the UC system. Approximately 30 Jewish Studies faculty members signed a March 3 letter to the Orange County District Attorney opposing legal action against the “Irvine 11.” The “Irvine 11” were the Muslim Student Union students who had orchestrated a disruption of a lecture by Israel Ambassador Michael Oren on the UC Irvine campus, in violation of both campus guidelines and the law. The six UCD faculty connected to Jewish/Middle Eastern scholarship who signed that letter are: David Biale; Ari Kelman; Ze’ev Maoz; Susan Miller; Brenda Deen Schildgen; and Diane Wolf.
Yet, these same academics turn a blind eye to campus anti-Semitism. Open letters were submitted to UC President Mark Yudof in June of 2010, highlighting the rise of anti-Semitism throughout the UC system. Some of the signatories included the Simon Wiesenthal Center, CAMERA, StandWithUs, and Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. More than 700 students signed an on-line petition. In September, 2011, more than 5,200 supporters sent another letter to Mr. Yudof, urging him to investigate and take action. Thus far, not one of the UCD professors referenced above has signed on to the letters, nor have they taken action to protect Jewish students from harassment and fear on their own campus. In fact, Emanuel Ringelblum and Professor David Biale criticized the decision by the U.S. Office of Civil Rights to extend Title VI protection to Jewish students as “bizarre” because “the Jews are a group with power.” (Jewish Daily Forward, “Federal Civil Rights Policy Expanded To Protect Jewish College Students,” by Joy Resmovits, issue of November 12, 2010.)
Blind allegiance to any ideology is dangerous for the free exchange of ideas that is supposed to be the hallmark of a university. It is even more dangerous in the current climate where professors and academic departments encourage anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, and anti-Jewish views and behaviors. Too often, students who express favorable views about Israel are ridiculed and verbally abused. Surely Jewish Studies Departments should ensure that the distortions and misinformation that propel anti-Israel dogmas are exposed and critiqued. People committed to intellectual integrity and the future of Israel and the Jewish people should be concerned about these trends in Jewish Studies Programs.
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