California’s all-Democrat Legislative Jewish Caucus demanded local university leaders take “immediate action” to address the “disturbing” trend of antisemitism on campuses since the Hamas terror attack on October 7, blasting administration actions so far as “woefully inadequate.”
In a letter to University of California President Michael V. Drake and California State University Chancellor Mildred García published Tuesday, the caucus said they were outraged by reports of Jewish students and faculty who’ve been targeted with “physical abuse, threats, intimidation, hate speech, online harassment, and exclusion from academic opportunities” in recent weeks.
The caucus cited several reports of Jewish students being assaulted or harassed by peers and faculty at UC Berkeley, UC Davis, San Jose State, UC San Diego, Cal Poly Humboldt, and UCLA.
“[W]e have heard from Jewish students at UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and San Jose State who report being physically attacked for expressing support for Israel; Jewish students at UC San Diego who required a police escort in order to safely leave a student meeting; obscene anti-Israel graffiti on a Jewish ritual space at Cal Poly Humbolt; anti-Israel rallies at UCLA that interrupted classes with hate-filled rhetoric; a social media post by a UC Davis faculty member with knife, axe, and blood emojis calling for violence against Zionists in their homes and their ‘kids in school’; and an increased need for armed security at Jewish student centers on multiple campuses,” the caucus wrote.
Even more shocking, they wrote, were celebrations of the Hamas terror attack by anti-Israel student and faculty groups.
The caucus blasted administrative leaders who have not strongly condemned the terror attack, saying this inaction has allowed antisemitic speech and calls for genocide against Jews to be normalized on campus. It has also led to some professors being emboldened to abuse their authority, by encouraging students to attend anti-Israel rallies, and view “extreme anti-Israel propaganda.”
The response from many administrative leaders has been “woefully inadequate,” they charged, and has led to a widespread feeling among Jewish students that universities “do not understand the severity of the crisis and have been unwilling to take appropriate action to meet this moment.”
“This is unacceptable and must change immediately,” the caucus said.
“In a meeting last week, we were advised that Jewish students are appalled by what they perceive as callous disregard for their physical safety and emotional well-being and traumatized by a constant bombardment of hate that has directly interfered with their ability to learn. Beyond the lack of concrete action, Jewish students have been deeply impacted by the lack of empathy exhibited by many campus leaders – they do not feel seen or heard, nor do they feel safe and protected, in this extremely challenging moment,” the caucus wrote.
Administrators must take “immediate action,” and be “crystal clear” in their message to students that antisemitism will not be tolerated, the members said.
The state Jewish leaders reiterated they support the right of students and faculty to exercise their free speech and criticize U.S. policy or the Israeli government’s actions in the war. However, they argued, what the Jewish community has experienced is “beyond the pale.”
The letter ended with the legislative members promising to work with the universities to address this problem, including crafting policies to “ensure the success of these efforts.”
The letter was penned by caucus co-chair Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino).
Israeli President Isaac Herzog also wrote a stern letter to university leaders on Tuesday, calling on campus presidents to take action on antisemitism that has marred the reputations of “temples of scholarship.”
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Fox News’ Kendall Tietz contributed to this report.