Swastikas and Anti-Israel Boycott at UC Davis: ‘Not a Great Week to Be a Jewish Student on Campus’

Swastikas at UC Davis AEPi (StandWithUs via Facebook)
StandWithUs via Facebook

Jewish students at the University of California at Davis awoke Saturday morning to swastikas spray-painted on their fraternity house.

Nathaniel Bernhard, vice president of Alpha Epsilon Pi, told the Sacramento Bee that the “the hate crime” took place between 3 and 9 a.m. Saturday.

“It shook me up this morning, makes me feel marginalized on campus,” said Bernhard. “This whole week has kind of been not a great week to be a Jewish student on campus.”

Bernhard may have been referring to the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions measure voted on by the Associated Students of UC Davis this past Thursday evening.

By an 8-2 vote with two student senators not present, the student government body voted to recommend the UC Board of Regents divest from “corporations that aid in the Israeli occupation of Palestine and illegal settlements in Palestinian territories, violating both international humanitarian law and international human rights.”

Thursday night’s meeting was reportedly attended by “over 550 UC Davis students, staff and faculty members. The resolution, sponsored by the anti-Israel advocacy group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), was passionately condemned by Aggies for Israel President Julia Reifkind – resulting in the pro-Israel students walking out of the meeting.

But the resolution and walkout were eclipsed by public comments made by UCD Student Senator Azka Fayyaz.

Ms. Fayyaz, one of the eight senators who voted in favor of divestment, took to Facebook afterward, posting:

“Hamas & Sharia law have taken over UC Davis. Brb crying over the resilience.” And, “Israel will fall. insha’Allah.”

“This demonstrates the dishonesty and hypocrisy of divestment campaigns on campus,” said Johanna Wilder, Pacific Northwest Campus Coordinator for the Israel advocacy group StandWithUs. “They claim to be about social justice and human rights, but this student senator’s statement revealed SJP’s and the BDS movement’s real agenda.”

Controversy and allegations of anti-Semitism are not new to the UC Davis campus.

In November 2012, pro-Gaza demonstrators prevented Jewish students from entering a building at the university. Numerous Jewish students were forced up against a window, verbally and physically intimidated by demonstrators pounding their fists into their hands while standing next to the students.

Caught on video by the Amcha Initiative, a campus anti-Semitism watchdog group, was a mob-style chant for the Jews to “leave our space,” and the event leader arguing against free speech rights for pro-Israel (Zionist) voices.

“SJP at UC Davis has a history of harassing, intimidating and physically assaulting Jewish and pro-Israel students, as well as trying to shut down pro-Israel events and strip Jewish and pro-Israel students of their Constitutionally-protected freedom of expression,”  Amcha Initiative co-founder and director, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, told the Salomon Center. “Chancellor Katehi must publicly state that this type of hate will not be tolerated, certainly not from an officially recognized and funded student group.”

UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi posted a statement online Friday acknowledging the student group’s divestment vote, stating “This, however, does not reflect the position of UC Davis or the University of California system.”

She also referred to the swastikas painted on the AEP house as “despicable and hateful,” calling the incident a “repugnant and a gross violation of the values our university holds dear.  It is unacceptable and must not be tolerated on our campus or anywhere else.”

A request for comment from UC Davis Divest via their Facebook page has gone unanswered.


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