Student leaders botch response to anti-Semitism once again

CAITLYN SAMPLEY / AGGIE

Refusing to call anti-Semitism what it is does disservice to Jewish community

The horrific shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue over the weekend that left 11 Jewish individuals dead is an abhorrent anti-Semitic attack. The event and responses to it make it painfully evident that anti-Semitism is not a thing of the past.

The rate of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. is the highest it’s been in over two decades, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The fliers posted by neo-Nazis throughout campus and the swastikas drawn at Arroyo Park just two weeks ago are proof that the Davis community is not immune.

In the wake of these localized incidents, it is pertinent that Jewish students in our community feel supported by campus leaders and peers. Actions by student leaders in ASUCD, however, have made it apparent that anti-Semitism has yet to be widely recognized for what it is: a real and ever-increasing form of hate, worthy and deserving of attention.

At last week’s Senate meeting, Senate Resolution #2, which specifically condemned the anti-Semitic fliers posted around campus and denounced anti-Semitism, should have passed with little to no discussion.

While all members of the Senate table were in favor of the resolution, debate ensued over whether the resolution should add a clause to acknowledge all forms of discrimination faced by all religious minorities. In favor of effectively generalizing the resolution was the chair of the Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission chair and two student senators who ran on the BASED slate — two groups that have made it a priority to represent and uplift the voices of marginalized communities.

It is the Editorial Board’s strong belief that explicitly condemning a specific form of targeted discrimination does not erase the experiences of other marginalized and oppressed minorities. It’s disconcerting that some student leaders within ASUCD appear to think a resolution specifically regarding anti-Semitism must also denounce all forms of religious-based discrimination.

“De-Judaization” is a technical term to describe highly problematic efforts to de-emphasize and generalize textbook examples of anti-Semitic attacks as ones of broader “religious discrimination” instead of discrimination against the Jewish community. This kind of generalization works to erase the reality of anti-Semitism.

The anti-Semitic fliers posted around campus had Stars of David drawn across the foreheads of Jewish politicians and swastikas were drawn on the sidewalk in a Davis park.

Let’s call it for what it is: this was not an attack on all religious minorities, but an attack specifically meant to inspire hatred of Jews and fear in Jews.

Just two weeks ago, the Editorial Board criticized university officials and student leaders from ECAC for their well-intentioned but inadequate responses to the fliers. Since that time, the chancellor and other administrators have met with leaders from Jewish student organizations after they placed pressure on the administration to bring a meaningful change into fruition. Now, university leaders have made concrete plans to move forward and address anti-Semitism on campus.

Public officials who have made it their mission to be a voice for marginalized communities are not immune to criticism. When Jews talk about their experiences with anti-Semitism, don’t listen to speak — listen to learn. Now is the time to act thoughtfully and in solidarity with and support of the Jewish community.

Written by: The Editorial Board