Two weeks after approving a divisive pro-Palestine declaration, the school’s student council denounced antisemitism. A few pupils argue that more is required.
Jewish students strongly urged the UC San Diego student council to denounce antisemitism on Wednesday night, claiming that the board has been disregarding their safety and existence in the midst of heated language surrounding the Israel-Hamas conflict.
The move followed a month of mounting worries among Jewish and pro-Palestinian students that divisive comments are inciting animosity and that the university management is taking too long to address the issue.
The Associated Students, an organisation that assists in supervising undergraduates, had voted late the previous week not to denounce antisemitism. After hearing remarks from pro-Palestinian speakers who said they were the ones being harassed and disregarded, the board changed its mind late on Wednesday.
Votes were 21 in favour, 1 against, and 5 abstained. The statements constituted a few of the most intense political discussions at UCSD since the demonstrations against the Vietnam War fifty years prior.
The local branch of Students for Justice in Palestine, which declined to comment when the San Diego Union-Tribune asked for an update on the vote, served as the main representative of the students speaking out in favour of the Palestinian people.
Following the start of the conflict on October 7, several of the almost 40 students who addressed the board claimed they had been intimidated, harassed, or insulted and now they were afraid to enter campuses.
The Union-Tribune was informed by a few students that they are particularly worried about their safety on Library Walk, a hallway where abrasive political discussions are commonplace. This leads to the Geisel Library, the most recognisable structure at UCSD.
Chancellor Pradeep Khosla’s public remarks have drawn criticism from students on both sides of the issue, with some criticising them for not being timely, comprehensive, or compassionate enough. Students and professors around the nation are also taking issue with other university officials. Claudine Gay of Harvard University, for example, has been accused of responding slowly to Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7.
San Diego resident Hillel and Khosla have met. Additionally, he has a scheduled in-person meeting with the University of Haifa’s president for next week, as per an official statement from the Israeli institution. But it’s unclear if Khosla has had meetings with organisations that support Palestine.
Several inquiries from the Union-Tribune to discuss the issue on campus have been turned down by the chancellor.
The scandal occurs at a time when a lot of college and university students in the country are extremely careful about what they say for fear of facing rejection in person or on social media.
Brandeis University, just outside of Boston, declared earlier this week that it will no longer sponsor the National Students for Justice in Palestine organisation on campus. The media was informed by the school—roughly one-third Jewish—that NSJP backs Hamas’ conflict with Israel.
The majority of SJP members and a few Jewish students declined to give their names during the UCSD Associated Students meeting on Wednesday. In addition, a lot of SJP members covered their faces with kuffiyeh scarves or masks out of concern about harassment. Supporters of the Palestinian cause have also covered their faces during protests at Harvard, UC Berkeley, and New York University.
The event at the AS board meeting on October 25 was the basis for the debate on Wednesday.
A university film of the meeting revealed that dozens of SJP members attended the public comment time at the board, stood behind student senators, and urged the board to adopt a declaration in favour of Palestinians.
Part of the statement said, “The University’s disregard for the killing of innocent civilians in Gaza is irresponsible, biassed, and dehumanises Palestinian life.” “In addition, the university’s tacit classification of Palestinians as ‘terrorists’ and ‘antisemitic’ feeds into the racist narrative that the offensive was carried out in response to nothing and was only carried out to be ‘launched on a major Jewish holiday.'”
Without revealing her last name, a student going by the name Alicia wrote on the board, “Almost everyone in this room disgusts me… I’ve encountered so much hate, really. I have witnessed ridicule.
By a vote of 24 to 0, AS subsequently approved the SJP statement in unanimity. Later on, some participants reported feeling under pressure to comply.
Hillel of San Diego, which is close to campus, was incensed by the vote. A SJP member’s employment of inaccurate, antisemitic stereotypes about Jewish control in the media and finance was of special concern. The statement starts to play around 22:49 in the video clip.
Ivan Ramirez, an AS member, subsequently co-wrote a resolution denouncing antisemitism on college campuses.
His press release further stated, “Associated Students of UC San Diego apologises for not thoroughly researching and reviewing content contained in the Students for Justice in Palestine Statement Release and for failing to ensure proper consideration and representation of the Jewish community at UC San Diego before approving an endorsement” of the statement released by the SJP.
Jewish students packed the board meeting on November 1st, saying AS that they’ve been increasingly targeted in the aftermath of the conflict. Some people used the phrase “Jew-hatred” rather than antisemitism.
Ramirez’s proposal was denied by the board last week, with 6 members voting yes, 11 voting no, and 9 abstaining.
On Wednesday, Ramirez reintroduced his resolution, and hundreds of Jewish students and SJP members shouted out, many reading emotional messages from their cellphones.
“We are only halfway through the quarter, and both of us have been called terrorists, murderers, and rapists,” one pro-Palestinian speaker remarked. “We’ve received death threats, observed to our cars, are constantly given looks.”
“Why is it that I have to miss class and work for the last month in order to advocate for Jewish equality on this campus when it is (the board’s) job to represent all Jewish students equally?” Unidentified Jewish student inquired. “The last time the world was silent to this extent of Jewish discrimination 6 million Jews were murdered.”
When it came time to vote on the draught resolution on Wednesday night, the board eliminated references to Students for Justice in Palestine out of worry that they would be insulting, instead focusing on denouncing antisemitism.
Ramirez was ambivalent on Thursday.