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Professors testify before House subcommittee on anti-Jewish work bias

“The general antisemitic, hostile environment turned to focus on me directly because I am a Jew,” Dafna Golden told the subcommittee.

Mark Rienzi, president and CEO of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and other witnesses at a House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections hearing about combating workplace antisemitism in postsecondary education on June 26, 2024. Credit: House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
Mark Rienzi, president and CEO of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and other witnesses at a House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections hearing about combating workplace antisemitism in postsecondary education on June 26, 2024. Credit: House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

A subcommittee of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce heard emotional testimony on Wednesday from college professors about how Jew-hatred has affected their careers since the Hamas terrorist attacks in southern Israel on Oct. 7. 

Dafna Golden, a geography professor at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, Calif., testified before the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections that it would be unbearable to continue to do her job due to the antisemitism that she has experienced.

“Like so many of my Jewish colleagues at colleges across the country, the general antisemitic, hostile environment turned to focus on me directly because I am a Jew,” Golden told the subcommittee. “Because I won’t hide or reject my connection as a Jew to the Jewish state and the Jewish people.”

Due to the “toxic atmosphere and severe impact on my mental health and my professional standing, and the refusal of my employer to protect me in my workplace, I have decided to transition out of academia as soon as possible,” the professor testified.

The hearing is the latest round of the committee’s investigation into Jew-hatred on college campuses and in K-12 education since Oct. 7.

Students and faculty have launched a flurry of formal discrimination complaints and lawsuits alleging that school administrations fostered a hostile environment against Jews, amid the proliferation of anti-Israel and antisemitic protests on campuses.

Brian Keating, a professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego, who is also Jewish, described what that environment was like for younger professors and students on his campus.

“Faculty members call their colleagues ‘f-ing colonizers,’” Keating testified. “During a tour of a lab and workspace environment where Israelis and Jews are working and pursuing their studies, they are confronted by calls for elimination of the one Jewish homeland.”

Keating also described the role that the United Auto Workers labor union has played in organizing strikes and anti-Israel protests.

Despite its name, the union now represents more than 100,000 academic workers across the country, including 48,000 faculty and student employees in UAW local 4811 representing the University of California system.

“They are effectively forced to be members of the United Auto Workers union as part of their contract and their collective bargaining agreement,” Keating said, of his graduate student teaching assistants.

“They organize rolling strikes, they call them ‘day of action’ or ‘complicity tours,’ where they would organize shutdowns of campus or attempt to shut down campus,” he said.

UAW 4811’s website is almost entirely devoted to anti-Israel protest-related grievances.

Kevin Kiley
Rep. Kevin Kiley (R-Calif.), chair of the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, during a hearing about combating workplace antisemitism in postsecondary education on June 26, 2024 . Credit: House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

“UAW 4811 was one of the earliest unions in the U.S. to call for a ceasefire and de-escalation of the war in Gaza and were instrumental in the International UAW taking up this same call,” per the site. 

“UAW members have chosen to participate in the nonviolent Palestine Solidarity Encampments to call attention to UC’s financial ties to Israel’s war effort and urge UC to divest from companies and industries currently profiting off of the suffering in Gaza,” it adds.

An Orange County superior court judge ruled in early June that UAW 4811’s strike violated its collective bargaining agreement with the University of California and issued a restraining order against it.

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