...Free speech is also facing a crucial test on American campuses. Last month, a University of California advisory council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion published a report on “Jewish student campus climate.” Requested by UC President Mark Yudof, the report calls for the dietary needs of Jews on campus to be adequately met. It also recognizes the need to accommodate students who wish to observe Jewish holidays.Read the rest here.
Just as important are the distinctions that the report draws between Jewish identity and support of Israel’s current policies. The authors rightly point out that “the Jewish communities on the [UC] campuses are very diverse, making generalizations difficult.” They state that “this is especially true when it comes to the issue of Israel.” They therefore describe “holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel” as “anti-semitism.”
However, the authors also emphasize that “for many Jewish students, their Jewish cultural and religious identity cannot be separated from their identity with Israel,” and that “pro-Zionist students see an attack on the State of Israel as an attack on the individual and personal identity.” The report makes no effort to discuss the validity of these “attacks.” Instead, it calls for “policies that give campus administrators authority to prohibit such activities on campus,” as well as “education” to address “the root causes of harassment.”
Since one of the authors of the report is a member of the Anti-Defamation League, an organization which opposes even criticism of Netanyahu, these recommendations could lead to unprecedented restrictions on students’ free speech.