UC Berkeley student government unanimously passes bill condemning anti-Semitism

A swastika that was spray-painted on the Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) Jewish fraternity house at University of California, Davis last month. Credit: YouTube screenshot via Sacramento Bee.

(JNS.org) Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC), the student government at University of California (UC), Berkeley, on Wednesday passed a bill condemning anti-Semitism in a unanimous 20-0 vote.

The bill details a history of anti-Semitic incidents in the 10-school UC system over the past five years and states that the ASUC “should respect the right of the Jewish students at UC Berkeley to define, within the guidelines of the nationally recognized definition put forth by the United States State Department, what is and is not anti-Semitism, in the same manner in which other communities are granted that right.” The State Department says, “Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions, and religious facilities.”

“As a brother of [the Jewish fraternity] AEPi, I saw the horrible anti-Semitic actions that occurred [last month] at our UC Davis chapter where swastikas were spray-painted on their house as well as discrimination against a Jewish student within the UCLA student government,” said ASUC Senator Ori Herschmann, the bill’s sponsor. “It’s extremely important for the ASUC and student governments alike to actively fight anti-Semitism and make sure all Jewish students feel safe on campus.”

Herschmann’s mention of UCLA refers to a recent incident—also described in the bill’s text—in which Jewish student Rachel Beyda, who was vying for membership on the school’s undergraduate Judicial Board, was asked by a student government member, “Given that you’re a Jewish student and very active in the Jewish community… how do you see yourself being able to maintain an unbiased view in your position?” The ensuing student government debate about Beyda centered on whether her Jewish affiliation created a “conflict of interest.”

Posted on February 26, 2015 .