Jewish Caucus Condemns Antisemitic Violence on UC Campuses, Demands UC Hold Perpetrators Accountable and Do More to Address Antisemitism on Campus

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

SACRAMENTO, CA - The California Legislative Jewish Caucus, led by Co-Chairs  Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino) and Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Vice Chair Senator Josh Becker (D-Menlo Park), issued the following statement in light of violence, threats, and harassment directed at Jewish students at UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley:


“We unequivocally condemn the recent targeting of Jewish students at UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley, including violent threats, physical violence, and destruction of state property. The Jewish Caucus demands immediate action from University administrators to hold those responsible accountable and to protect our students.


“At UC Berkeley, students were harassed, threatened, and physically assaulted by protesters seeking to shut down a private event hosted by Jewish student organizations. These protesters shattered a glass window and assaulted two Jewish students to the point that they required medical care. Jewish students had to be evacuated from the event via underground tunnels after it was deemed unsafe for them to leave through the front entrance. This event featuring an Israeli speaker was meant to foster an important, nuanced conversation and would have provided a platform for open and difficult dialogue; instead, protesters used physical violence and intimidation to stifle speech with which they disagreed.


“At UC Santa Barbara, signs were posted in the campus multicultural center seeking to prohibit those who support Israel’s right to exist from accessing public spaces on campus. These signs also directly targeted and threatened the Student Body President, who is Jewish, threatening her “you can run but you can’t hide.” At the same time, the door to a Jewish student’s dorm was vandalized with anti-Israel graffiti and an arrow pointing to the student’s mezuzah – a Jewish cultural and religious object. These threats and hateful acts were intended to threaten, bully, and intimidate Jewish students on campus because of their Jewish identity.


“The right to free speech is fundamental to our democracy and must be protected. But hateful, violent conduct that prevents others from expressing their free speech rights is antithetical to our values, our democracy, and the core mission of our public education system. The violent, hateful acts at UC Berkeley and UC Santa Barbara were not speech – they were despicable acts of antisemitism.


“We also were disappointed to see that the statements by campus leadership responding to these incidents failed to mention that it was Jewish students and organizations that were targeted. This ambiguity and lack of moral clarity is unacceptable. Antisemitism must be condemned – clearly, forcely, and without reservation.


“We acknowledge that UC has recently adopted new policies and devoted more resources to addressing hate on campus, including antisemitism. We very much appreciate those efforts. However, more work clearly remains, and we look forward to working closely with UC leadership to ensure that those who participated in acts of hate and violence are held accountable and to ensure that Jewish students – like students of all faiths, backgrounds, and orientations – are safe and welcome on campus.”