Jewish Journal


May 28, 2009

Jewish student: UC Irvine needs to stop the Israel hatefest



Jewish student at UC Irvine

Earlier this month, a frustrated Jewish student at UC Irvine sent an e-mail to the editorial staff of The Jewish Journal, expressing concerns about the annual Israel hatefest known as Palestinian Awareness Week. This year it was celebrated under the banner of “Israel: The Politics of Genocide.”

“There is an Israeli flag blowing in the wind…blood stained and ripped,” Neelie Milstein wrote. “We live in America, where democracy and freedom of speech is not only LEGAL but also encouraged. On this campus, freedom of speech has turned into freedom of HATE.”

Last year I made two visits to UCI during Palestinian Awareness Week, and returned the following week for iFest, a celebration of Israeli culture and contributions. I can vouch for the blood-stained and torn Israeli flag; I shot photos of it last year. And in a post about the weeklong event this year, I linked back to a trove of past articles and blog posts about the situation at UCI and on college campuses across the country.

I had been told that things were getting better. But that was before Israel’s war in Gaza, which ignited anti-Israel rhetoric on campuses from UCLA to York—and in many cases abject anti-Semitism.

The climate at UCI inspired Neelie to turn her call to action into an op-ed, “Protecting Hate at UC Irvine.” An excerpt:

After my three years at UCI, you would think I would be desensitized, and could just ignore the MSU’s “apartheid wall.” But I stand for more than that. I am standing up for all the Jews in past generations who did their best to uphold our religion and protect our people. I am standing up for all who understand and support the State of Israel as one of the most extraordinary achievements of the Jewish people.

I am not asking the UCI administration to censor the hate speech. I am asking them to denounce this style of rhetoric and displays just as they would denounce campaigns for white supremacy, sexism, or Islamophobia. I am asking them to be as fearful of countenancing hatred as I was taught to be, not just because of its present impact, but because of what it bodes for the future.

You can read the rest here.

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