Addressing the rise in antisemitism nationally begins with actively working to prevent the recurrence of hate on our campus and in the city of Davis
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
Content warning: This article contains discussions of antisemitic language and threats of violence that readers may find disturbing.
On Aug. 28, three or four white men hung antisemitic signs over the overpass on Highway 113 in Davis. According to police reports, the men also cornered a UC Davis employee and intrusively followed her after she called out their hate speech. They also refused to speak with police who arrived on the scene, and one took a phone recording of the officers before leaving without facing any consequences.
This was just one incident of unresolved antisemitism among a list of many. In 2015, a swastika was spray painted on the side of a UC Davis fraternity house; in 2017, antisemitic fliers were posted at lecture halls around campus; and most recently, on Oct. 13, swastika drawings were found in a UC Davis freshman residence hall. Clearly, antisemitism is not a new problem on campus. UC Davis has been ranked among the top 10 most antisemitic schools across the country.
After the recent antisemitic attacks, Chancellor Gary May published a statement condemning the hate speech and announcing a partnership with the city of Davis and Yolo County to “develop actions, condemn hate, create safety and cultivate kindness.”
General condemnation and a vague plan of action does not sufficiently address the discriminatory threats or provide genuine support and relief to the Jewish community. Neither does a single link to Student Health and Counseling Services, provided at the end of the statement, as these counselors may not be specifically trained to support students in the event of a hate incident.
Clearly, the university’s and the local police’s response to antisemitic hate incidents on campus and in the city of Davis have done little to prevent the recurrence of such events. It is necessary for the university to be more transparent in their efforts to discipline students involved in the on-campus incidents. Additionally, there should be consequences for those who have been involved with incidents that have occurred in the city of Davis. If knowledge of disciplinary action is made public, this could discourage people from taking part in similar incidents in the future.
Community members should also take the time to educate themselves through reading about, listening to and discussing the experiences of Jewish individuals — not only through social media feed posts or infographics that lack the full context surrounding the decades-long Palestinian-Israeli conflict, for example.
Recently, nine UC Berkeley organizations adopted a bylaw barring pro-Israel speakers on campus, many of whom associate with the Jewish community. The bylaw is a violation of first amendment rights to free speech that is undeniably rooted in antisemitism, and many Jewish students may now be afraid to speak up on campus regardless of their political stance. Needless to say, the complex politico-religious conflict should not be a guise or justification for antisemitic attacks directed at Jewish individuals.
Additionally, the antisemitism observed in Davis and Berkeley reflects a larger issue on the national level. According to the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks antisemitic behavior nationwide, 2,717 incidents were reported in 2021 alone, a 34% rise from the year prior. This is by no means insignificant, and it is all the more telling of the continuous hate directed toward the Jewish community.
Addressing the national problem begins in our own community. All administrators, students and faculty must ensure that our campus supports freedom of expression, stands with the Jewish community and actively works to prevent future incidents of hate.
Written by: The Editorial Board