10,000 demand UC reject ethnic studies requirements from faculty supporting Hama terrorism

In the wake of the horrific events of Oct. 7 and the barbaric, evil actions taken by Hamas, the University of California Ethnic Studies Faculty Council issued a statement legitimizing the massacre of innocent Israeli civilians, including Jewish women, children, and even infants burned and mutilated. The statement went on to rebuke UC leadership for its public comments condemning Hamas.

This same Faculty Council is attempting to get UC to adopt an ethnic studies admission requirement that will force every high school in the state to offer ethnic studies courses developed by their members. These courses will undoubtedly contain material that provides a one-sided, biased and hateful narrative about Israel and Jews, is laden with anti-Zionism, and will incite antisemitic animus and behavior towards Jewish students.

AMCHA exposed the UC Ethnic Studies Faculty Council’s appalling letter to the public and UC last week, and today, 10,000 UC stakeholders and supporters joined more than 100 organizations in demanding UC reject their admissions requirement proposal. The petition was just launched a few days ago and remains open and continues to grow by the day.

The following petition was sent from the signatories to the UC Regents, UC President Drake and all UC Chancellors|
“We, the undersigned University of California stakeholders and supporters, strongly condemn the UC Ethnic Studies Faculty Council’s appalling letter justifying Hamas’ massacre, torture and kidnapping of Israeli citizens and ‘celebrating’ BDS. We stand united with 115 organizations that wrote to you recently, urging you to reject the Faculty Council’s proposal for a UC ethnic studies admissions requirement. If approved, the proposal will force every high school in the state to offer ethnic studies courses based on criteria developed by members of the Faculty Council, which has also openly declared that anti-Zionism should be one of the ‘animating commitments’ of high school ethnic studies curricula.

“We wholeheartedly agree with the 115 groups that, ‘UC faculty who cannot acknowledge that the Hamas massacre is terrorism and a crime against humanity, and who state that anti-Zionism and the elimination of the Jewish state is a core value of their discipline, must not be trusted to establish state-wide ethnic studies standards for California students.’

“We urge you to immediately reject the Ethnic Studies Faculty Council’s proposal for a UC ethnic studies admissions requirement (Area H Ethnic Studies).”

Here’s the University of California Ethnic Studies Faculty Council statement
In the strongest possible terms, the UC Ethnic Studies Faculty Council, a diverse statewide body that represents over 300 faculty systemwide, rejects recent UC administrative communications that distort and misrepresent the unfolding genocide of Palestinians in Gaza and thereby contribute to the racist and dehumanizing erasure of Palestinian daily reality.

In light of the history of statements by the UC Regents and Chancellors demonizing the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement and other forms of Palestinian solidarity, we have no confidence that the UC administration comprehends or respects its obligation to make public statements that demonstrate a full understanding of this historical moment. This is an egregious failure of leadership, given the University of California’s reputation as one of the world’s foremost educational and research institutions.

Statements issued by institutions of higher learning carry a heavy burden, as they are understood as bearing moral authority and academic expertise. It is deeply distressing that the UC and other higher education institutions’ administrative statements in the last week and a half, that irresponsibly wield charges of “terrorism” and “unprovoked” aggression, have contributed to a climate that has made Palestinian students and community members unsafe, even in their own homes. These statements stoke anti-Muslim, anti-Palestinian sentiments, which have resulted, for example, in the stabbing death of a 6-year-old Palestinian-American boy and the serious wounding of his mother in Illinois.

Students organizing and attending pro-Palestinan rallies, teach-ins, and vigils at multiple UC campuses have reported racist harassment, physical threats and violence by Zionist students, with UCPD looking on. UC administration statements that excuse Israeli genocide and erase Palestinian lives have directly contributed to this hostile climate on campus. Rather than meet the moment with intellectual honesty and an understanding of history, UC administrative communications grossly decontextualize the structure of violence, daily death and suffering, and destruction of more than 75 years of settler colonialism and globally acknowledged apartheid. This near century of colonial brutality and militarized repression must be understood as a normalized condition of state terror and dehumanization.

Context is crucial. On the receiving end of Zionist militarism longer than the Israeli state’s existence, the Palestinian population in the occupied territories has been subjected to a daily stranglehold by air, land and sea. Theirs is an everyday experience of terror. Failure to recognize the Palestinian freedom struggle as a struggle for basic needs, dignity, and freedom within conditions that fundamentally militate against life is part and parcel of the same logic that deems Palestinians “human animals.”

It is part of a racist double standard that not only values some forms of life over others but consents to their extermination. Seventeen years of siege and continued bombing of Gaza, an open-air prison with a population of 2.3 million within a fully enclosed 140 square miles, amounts to ongoing genocidal collective punishment.

As homes are being destroyed and white phosphorus — a war crime — has become a recurring reality, schools, hospitals, and UN buildings furnish no refuge as they have been targets of air raids for 15 years. In the last several days, Israel has threatened ground invasions and ordered more than one million in the north to leave their homes — an impossibility, inflicting psychological warfare on Palestinians en masse.

Additionally, the US military announced it’s preparing to deploy 2,000 troops to Palestine, directly engaging in the genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Recent years have already been the deadliest for Palestinians in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and elsewhere. Indeed, prior to Oct. 7, 2023, this year was already on record as the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank in 20 years.

A community trying to free themselves from decades-long ethnic cleansing and genocide is not the same as one of the world’s strongest state militaries, a nuclear power with the unconditional backing of the United States, wielding advanced forms of technologized destruction aimed at full-spectrum dominance. To equate the two and to hold the oppressed accountable for “terrorism” reinscribes a colonial narrative that seeks to have the world believe that history began on Oct.7, 2023. Where were the UC administration’s statements deploring the routinized lethal forms of violence inflicted on the Palestinian people prior to Oct. 7, 2023? Instead, the UC condemned the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in its campuses as antisemitic, when BDS should instead be celebrated as a nonviolent human rights movement which follows the Black South African call for divestment during apartheid.

Our UC community is deeply affected by this ongoing war on Palestinian life. The position the UC has taken only serves to compound the harm on some of the most vulnerable members of our community. We call on the UC administrative leadership to retract its charges of terrorism, to uplift the Palestinian freedom struggle, and to stand against Israel’s war crimes against and ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Palestinian people.

About the AMCHA Initiative
The AMCHA Initiative is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to combating antisemitism at colleges and universities in the United States. The organization monitors more than 450 campuses for antisemitic activity, as defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and the U.S. government.  AMCHA is not a pro-Israel advocacy organization, nor does it take a position on current or past Israeli government policies; criticism of Israel that does not meet the IHRA and U.S. government criteria is not considered antisemitic by the organization. AMCHA has recorded more than 5,000 antisemitic incidents on college campuses since 2015 which can be accessed through its Antisemitism Tracker.