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UCLA's Anti-Semitism Problem
Petitions

            Anti-Semitism is a serious charge not easily leveled at anyone.  But proceeding from the definition of anti-Semitism offered by UCLA professor Judea Pearl (the father of slain Wall Street Journal writer Daniel Pearl), UCLA is well populated by professors who are anti-Semitic in thought and action, even if they won’t accept the title.

            In Pearl’s admittedly controversial definition, opposition to Israel or Zionism is at its core a denial of a safe haven for a Jewish people who have been persecuted for millennia.  Thus, for example, the signatures on an Israeli divestment petition of Gabriel Piterberg, Sondra Hale, Saree Makdisi, James Gelvin, Karen Brodkin, Katherine King, Carole Pateman, and Rafael Perez-Torres, are in essence a denial of Israel’s basic right to exist.

            The 2002 petition in question called for the University of California to liquidate its investment holdings in any companies doing business with Israel.  This was a substantial snub last directed (successfully) at apartheid-era South Africa, and from 2005 to present, at the slave-holding, genocidal country of Sudan.  This is the company into which UCLA and UC faculty in general placed the democratic state of Israel, beset from all sides by Arab nations dedicated to its destruction. 

Moreover, the UCLA faculty’s targeting of Israel is the United Nations General Assembly’s preoccupation with Israel writ small.  While vast swaths of the world were mired in genocide, despotism and starvation, the General Assembly heaped scorn and endless resolutions upon Israel, and Israel alone.  One cannot help but notice that the primary distinguishing characteristic of the U.N./Israel dispute is Israel’s status as the one Jewish nation on the face of the earth.  And twelve UCLA professors, and 165 UC faculty overall, wanted nothing more than to see Israel wiped from the map, or arm-twisted into a peace agreement that would, in the long run, lead to Israel’s demise.

Worst of all is that the 2002 divestment petition, while a definite lowlight, is part of a longer list of anti-Israel statement.  While far from comprehensive, even UCLAProfs’ rough methods turned up 17 different anti-Israel political statements, bearing 70 signatures from 44 different professors.  Almost half of the 31 professors profiled at UCLAProfs as of January 11, 2006, have signed one or more anti-Israel petitions.

Other notable low-blow petitions include the “Jews for Peace” advertisement placed in the July 18, 2002 edition of the New York Times.  The ad, signed by thirteen UCLA professors, decried the resurgence of “us-versus-them thinking” arising from recent Palestinian terrorist attacks, and laid out a number of conditions for moving forward on a peace process, including a “Partition along the pre-1967 border as modified only by minor mutually agreed territorial swaps.”  The petition laid the most blame for the current impasse not on endless Palestinian terrorism, but on unnamed “powerful minorities pursu[ing] maximalist territorial aims.”  More incredibly, the petition also repeated the canard that “recent events have made painfully clear that our own national security is deeply undermined by instability and injustice in the Middle East.”  This idea, phrased less artfully, is Ward Churchill or Vinay Lal’s “chickens coming home to roost” theory tweaked to suggest that support for wicked, wicked Israel makes 9/11 our just desserts. 

A third major petition, and the most popular at 21 signatures, was promoted by the so-called “Professors of Conscience.”  The petition, which bore over 800 signatures, was essentially an endorsement of an earlier September 2002 petition signed by 187 Israeli academics.  That earlier petition warned in hysterical manner that the “fog of war” created by the American invasion of Iraq, might be “exploited by the Israeli government to commit further crimes against the Palestinian people, up to full-fledged ethnic cleansing.”  The professors further contended that “Escalating racist demagoguery concerning the Palestinian citizens of Israel may indicate the scope of the crimes that are possibly being contemplated.”  The 800 American academics, the “Professors of Conscience” statement blared, “join with our Israeli colleagues in calling for vigilance as events unfold in Israel and the Occupied Territories…we believe Americans cannot remain silent while crimes as abhorrent as ethnic cleansing are being openly advocated.”  The petition, in short, is the devious old question, “So when did you stop beating your wife?” retooled to denigrate Israel.  Was Israel likely to conduct “ethnic cleansing” against Palestinians?  Hardly.  The “evidence” presented was several isolated examples of hot-headed political rhetoric, rather understandable for a people regularly under violent attack by outsiders.  Worse yet, the petition ignores a very real outburst of violence courtesy of Palestinian and Arab terror militias whose members regularly blow themselves up among Israeli civilians.

            The thirteen signatories of the “Jews for Peace” ad, and many other anti-Israel petitioners, will no doubt protest that they can hardly be anti-Semitic, since they are Jews themselves.  On the surface, it seems a sound defense.  Yet the evidence speaks for itself.  You do not sound false, inflammatory warnings against ethnic cleansing, you do not advocate for a weakened Israel, you do not call for a divestment from Israeli companies, you do not do not sign any of the 17 different petitions, without a desire to harm Israel, and by extension, the Jewish people.