Proposed U. of California tolerance statement rapped for lack of focus on anti-Semitism


(JTA) — The University of California Board of Regents will review a new statement of “principles against intolerance,” despite calls from the campus Jewish community that want a more specific focus on anti-Semitism.

The proposed statement of principles that the board is set to discuss at its Sept. 17 meeting at U.C Irvine condemns bias, violence, threats and hate speech based on race, ethnicity, religion, citizenship, sex or sexual orientation, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The statement also says that “everyone in the university community has the right to study, teach, conduct research and work free from acts and expressions of intolerance,” and that lectures, scholarship and political expression are protected by “academic freedom or free-speech principles.”

A formal vote on the proposed statement is likely months away and the statement could change before the vote.

The proposed statement does not officially single out or define anti-Semitism. The regents thought it would be better to address intolerance “over a broader spectrum,” U.C. spokesman Steve Montiel told the Times.

Jewish and pro-Israel groups, as well as alumni, have called on U.C. President Janet Napolitano and the Board of Regents to formally adopt the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism in order to properly identify anti-Semitic expression on campus. The definition includes more general ethnic and religious hatred against Jews as well as demonizing Israel, and denying Israel’s right to exist.

Organizations critical of Israel say that such a definition would limit free speech and conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.

The California State Assembly in July unanimously approved a resolution calling on University of California campuses to condemn all forms of anti-Semitism.

Recent incidents on U.C. campuses include swastikas drawn on a Jewish fraternity house at Davis and the questioning of a candidate for student judiciary board about her Jewishness and Jewish affiliations at UCLA.

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