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When Universities Turn a Blind Eye to Anti-Semitism and Trample Free Speech
by Gary Fouse
As a former part-time teacher at the University of California at Irvine, during the 10 or so years I have been involved in issues of anti-semitism on campus, I and other outraged community members have occasionally stated that Jewish donors should cease their contributions to UCI as long as the school turned a blind eye to anti-semitism. (They still do,) Some of us have also suggested that Jewish students might consider institutions of higher learning other than UCI. (Many do.) In addition, I have joined with like-minded colleagues and written or signed onto letters to the chancellor of UCI, the president of the UC system, and the UC Regents about harassment, insults and disruptions of Jewish pro-Israeli events on the UCI campus, as well as other UC campuses. My last letter to UCI was last week.
Yet, as I write this, the problems persist.
In addition, conservative speakers on college campuses across the country, like Ben Shapiro, can always expect to be disrupted by progressive or pro-Palestinian thugs. Remarkably, virtually every university lets the disruptors get away with it. We have just seen it again at UC Irvine, and we have just seen it again at UCLA.
So what is there to do? I offer these suggestions.
1 Bring in the lawyers. If a university refuses to provide a safe environment for its Jewish students and turns a blind eye to the excesses of groups like Students for Justice in Palestine or the Muslim Student Associations, sue the institution on equal protection grounds. This would likely mean that affected students would be the plaintiffs (if willing) in some sort of class action suit.
2 Get to the donors. If Jewish donors to a university are educated about what is going on, I would hope that many would give their money elsewhere. Likewise, if donors care about free speech issues and their favored university is not protecting free speech rights for conservatives they can give their money elsewhere.
3 Don't send your kids to an anti-semitic campus. This is problematic because it's hard to find a university that isn't politically correct, where conservative thought isn't stifled, or where Palestinian supporters don't engage in intimidation.
4 Writing letters is good, but they must be en masse.
One problem we have encountered over the years as to the anti-Jewish issue at UC Irvine, is that there are powerful voices in the Jewish community who oppose any effort to discourage Jewish students from enrolling at UCI. They say that, "Jewish life is alive and well at UCI." They argue that if there are more Jews at UCI, pro-Israel voices will be increased. They will tell you that the administration and Jewish students have done a good job of keeping everything under control-even after the latest pro-Israel event is disrupted (the last three years in May). They have fought back against every effort by some on campus or in the Jewish community to educate the public as to the severity of the problem. They say the students don't want community members getting involved. Do you want me to name names? I will be happy to.
The Orange County Jewish Federation and Family Services
Ben Shapiro, a young, Jewish, conservative pundit who supports Israel, routinely meets resistance and disruption when he is invited to speak on a campus. But here is an encouraging note: The University of Minnesota recently put limits on his speaking appearance sponsored by the Young America's Foundation, a conservative student group. As a result, the "Yellow Gophers" of Minnesota have lost a donor.
In short, it is time to fight back. Many chapters of the College Republicans, Young America's Foundation, Students Supporting Israel, or (Fill in the Blank) for Israel are standing up and in many cases, shaming the respective university. They need our support. The enemies of Israel, of conservatives and free speech are playing dirty. They intimidate and disrupt at every opportunity. If students are willing to stand up for what they believe in, we owe it to them to support them. If the universities will not support them (and they aren't), these institutions must be held accountable.