Open Letter on Anti-Semitism in California Universities · 21 September 2005

Filed under: Actions, California


09/21/05

To: Governor of California, University of California and California State University Officials
Open Letter to the Governor of California, University of California Board of Regents, Board of Trustees of the California State Universities, Chancellors of the University of California, and the Presidents of the California State Universities.

Jewish students feel increasingly intimidated on University of California and California State University campuses for openly expressing support for Israel and Zionism. Virulent anti-Israel and anti-Zionist rhetoric in the classroom, and in the curricula, and in campus events fuels a hostile and potentially anti-Semitic environment throughout the University of California and California State University systems. The one-sided and often inaccurate presentation of the Israel/Arab conflict by faculty and guest speakers is inconsistent with a university's mission of pursuit of the truth through critical inquiry and diversity of ideas.

As the preamble to the Faculty Code of Conduct at the University of California (Academic Personnel Manual APM-015) states: The University seeks to provide and sustain an environment conducive to sharing, extending, and critically examining knowledge and values, and to furthering the search for wisdom." One-sided anti-Israel propaganda violates those goals.

The problem of Jewish students being intimidated in the classroom and on the campuses of the University of California and California State University was recognized by Governor Grey Davis in a letter in June 2002 to President Atkinson of the University of California and to Chancellor Reed of the California State University system. In this letter, Governor Davis stated his concern about anti-Semitism on California campuses and asked for a system-wide, comprehensive plan.

He also specifically asked for a review of course descriptions to insure that they are "forums for intellectual inquiry and not vehicles for discrimination, intimidation and hate." Unfortunately, despite Governor Grey's directive, the problem continues to date.

We therefore, respectfully urge the administration at the University of California and the State University of California:

1) To review in 2005-2006 course descriptions and course materials in the Humanities, Social Sciences and other curriculums in which issues are raised about Israel and Zionism, whether central or peripheral to the course description, to ensure that by 2006-07, "courses are forums for intellectual inquiry" and that the full range of scholarly views about Israel and Zionism is presented, e.g. including issues of freedom of religion, and rights of women, gays, Muslims/Arab citizens. When academic units sponsor or co-sponsor outside speakers, the academic units also should ensure that the full range of scholarly views are presented.

2) To develop in 2005-06 and implement in 2006-07 academic studies that engage in critical inquiry and educate students about post-Holocaust contemporary anti-Semitism.

3) To ask that beginning in 2006-07, the respective Deans of Humanities, Social Sciences and other academic divisions, submit an annual written report on the implementation of the above two recommendations.

This petition has been initiated by Professors Leila Beckwith of UCLA and Ilan and Tammi Benjamin of the University of California-Santa Cruz who head the Scholars for Peace in the Middle East Chapter at UCSC. The petition has been endorsed by the Scholars for Peace in the Middle East Board of Directors. For more information on Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, go to www.spme.net


Sincerely,

The Undersigned

http://www.petitiononline.com/SPMEDoc/petition.html