update deskSchools & Higher Education

ADL: 2000% increase in antisemitic incidents at California’s campuses

The Jewish Federation of Los Angeles spearheaded a letter co-signed by 38 organizations, advocating for a dozen new policies to protect Jewish students.

At a protest at UC Berkeley, two pro-Israel protesters hold up an Israeli flag while two pro-Palestinian protesters stand in front of it with a Palestinian flag, Oct. 25, 2023. Credit: Kefr4000 via Wikimedia Commons.
At a protest at UC Berkeley, two pro-Israel protesters hold up an Israeli flag while two pro-Palestinian protesters stand in front of it with a Palestinian flag, Oct. 25, 2023. Credit: Kefr4000 via Wikimedia Commons.

A surge of antisemitism at universities across California has inspired a coalition of groups to join together to urge the University of California Regents to take immediate action.

The Jewish Federation Los Angeles sent a letter on March 15 to the governing body of California’s university system that was co-signed by 38 organizations, including ADL California, AJC California, Agudath Israel of California, Berkeley Hillel, Holocaust Museum LA, Hillel at UCLA, Simon Wiesenthal Center and StandWithUs.

“Since October 7, 2023, there has been a 2000% increase in antisemitic incidents on college campuses across California compared to the same period last year, according to the ADL,” the letter stated before noting examples at the University of California at Berkeley and Santa Barbara.

One such incident at Berkeley grew violent, with some 200 protesters smashing window glass during a protest on Feb. 26, prompting a response from the administration.

The groups proposed 12 steps for restoring Jewish students’ security on campus, such as revoking funding for student groups that discriminate; exercising zero tolerance for speech that advocates violence; instituting greater enforcement of all university policies; creating Jewish-life advisory committees; and including Jews within Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and director of global social action at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said it signed on with the other Jewish organizations “to fight back against the harassment of Jewish and Israeli students, and the shouting and shutting down of Israeli speakers. Jewish students are subjected to a unique level of intimidation without sufficient university protection, and the free exchange of ideas and diverse viewpoints, which is the primary purpose of a university, has been imperiled.”

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