Sunday, August 13, 2006

OC Jewish Life Article: Allowing Anti-Semitism on Campus is Dangerous

Thanks to Ted Bleiweis for publishing the following article in the OC Jewish Life in July 2006. I would have linked to it earlier, but the publisher refused to even respond when I emailed him asking him to put this on his website. With the permission of the article's author, here is the text of the article:

In the past, public Holocaust denial was espoused by a relatively few (nevertheless dangerous) bunch of hate-filled "crazies". The situation has changed drastically today. Holocaust denial and trivialization have become ever more acceptable and commonplace in our society. It is one of the vilest forms of anti-Semitism. The president of Iran engages regularly in it. He has also stated that “Israel will be wiped off the map”. Newspapers in “moderate” Moslem nations continually mock and trivialize the Holocaust.

Several weeks ago, a program took place on the UCI Campus sponsored by a well-financed Moslem Student Union. An “apartheid wall” was erected with a “checkpoint” manned by Moslem “students” dressed as Israeli soldiers. Above the “checkpoint” a sign read “Holocaust in the Holy Land,” the title of the week long program.

Similar demonstrations have taken place at UCLA, UCSD, and other tax-supported niversities throughout the state recently and over the past several years. The source of funding for these “events” remains a mystery.

Through out the week passersby were subjected to hate-filled speeches calling for the destruction of Israel. One of the speakers proclaimed Hamas as “the people’s choice,” while another called for an “Islamic” Jerusalem. Also on hand were two well-known traveling anti-Israel, anti-Zionist Jews. Rounding out this three-ring circus of haters was a Moslem speaker whose topic was entitled “Israel: the Fourth Reich.”

A handful of Jewish organizations were on hand to distribute accurate information to students many of whom have no knowledge of the reality of the Holocaust. Jewish demonstrators marched with signs denouncing the lies perpetrated by the organizers of the event.

One of the more troubling aspects of this whole UCI affair was the response issued by UCI Chancellor, Michael V. Drake. It read in part “…the first amendment provides great latitude regarding our freedom of expression. The university has a legal obligation to assure the free exchange of ideas, however infuriating we may perceive particular views with which we disagree…” I believe that it is his obligation, as an educator (and his right under the first amendment) to clearly and unequivocally denounce hate speech of any kind. I believe that it is his public duty as chancellor to distance the university from such reprehensible activities.

Sadly, over the past few weeks, I have spoken with leaders and members of various congregations and men’s clubs. Most knew nothing about these events. I found out, coincidentally, by tuning into The Larry Elders talk show. He was outraged at the events going on at UCI and other California campuses.

People are frightened about this. Friends whose children have been accepted to UCI opted to attend other universities, because this has gone on unchecked for many years. An official of a campus Jewish organization privately told me that he wished that he was attending another university.

Such characterizations of the Holocaust attempt to equate the calculated murder of millions of Jews with the unfortunate casualties of a war not of our making. It is an insult of monumental proportions to the memory of those who perished and a slur on the entire Jewish nation. It attempts to diminish the Jewish people by casting us as the perpetrators rather than the victims.

It is time for each and every member of the Jewish community to act. We need to call or write Chancellor Drake, the UC Board of Regents, and Governor Schwartzenegger and demand that they publicly repudiate hate speech of any kind, particularly on our university campuses. We need to hear more from our community leaders and organizations about how they are effectively dealing with this. Finally, we need to channel more funding from these Jewish agencies towards better education and support for Jewish and non-Jewish students on our campuses in dealing with anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.

We no longer can afford to sit quietly and witness the alarming rise of anti-Semitism around the globe. European nations have reported a dramatic rise in anti-Semitic acts, including violence against Jews and Jewish property. We must not allow those that hate us to erase the memory of the six million, especially in our schools and universities. History has taught us that silence only encourages our enemies.

Ted Bleiweis, a business owner in Orange County, is a concerned member of the Jewish community.

Read Ted's follow-up article here.

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