UC Berkeley Jewish Community Condemns Remarks at Student Government Meeting

Several Jewish groups sign statement saying they were 'appalled and deeply pained' by remarks that used 'Zionism as a code for Judaism'

File photo: Buildings on the University of California campus in Berkeley, Calif., December, 2014.
AP Photo/Eric Risberg

The University of California, Berkeley, Jewish community put out a letter condemning anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist remarks made at a recent student government meeting, The Daily Californian reported.

The student government was meeting Wednesday after deciding to disqualify candidates from the Student Action party from elections after discovering campaign finance violations, according to The Daily Californian. But one of the disqualified members is Jewish, and the university’s Jewish community used the meeting to voice concerns that the disqualification would cause the council to lose “essential representation in the ASUC.”

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But the meeting turned hostile. During the public comment section, according to the Jewish Journal, a former senator said: “I just had to talk y’all, because all I was hearing… was some white tears, some Zionist tears, some Greek tears about some disenfranchisement. Y’all don’t know what disenfranchisement even means.”

A student leader said this was the first time she met a Zionist, and that it is “really disrespectful if you are pro-Israeli settler-colonialist in Palestine to tell a black person you are Zionist.” She said that although is not a Palestinian, she cares “because the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] trains the police departments in America to kill black people. It’s because all of our [liberations] are intertwined.” She went on to talk about how the Jewish students’ privilege was “implicit in the oppression of Palestine.”

Several Jewish groups signed a joint statement that said they were “appalled and deeply pained,” citing verbal abuse, harassment and false information.

“Using Zionism as a code for Judaism, and subsequently conflating this with white supremacy, is completely ignorant of how white supremacy is founded on anti-Semitism and victimizes Jews,” it read. “The words we heard last night mirror the anti-Semitic rhetoric of white supremacy and contribute to the oppression of Jewish people on this campus and beyond.”

It was signed by UC Berkeley’s Alpha Epsilon Pi chapter, the Berkeley Hillel student board, J Street U at Berkeley, Bears for Israel and the Greek Jewish Council signed the statement. Jewish Voice for Peace put out its own letter criticizing how anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish were viewed as one in the same.

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