UCLA students fear rise of new anti-Semitism

Some students at UCLA are concerned that there is a growing anti-Semitism on colleges campuses across the country, including on their own campus in Westwood.

They point to several incidents over the past year. The most recent incident was a hate-filled rant posted on the Facebook page of actress Mayim Bialik, herself a UCLA alum, by a UCLA undergraduate.

Bialik had taken to social media to answer those who condemned her for being pro-Israel.

"For those of you who refuse to follow me and discourage others from doing so because I am a Zionist (as if that's a crime!!), I highly recommend you look up Zionist in the dictionary…," Bialik wrote.

She went on to say that if her Zionism caused them to not want to follow her on Facebook, then "By all means don't."

Her posting garnered a lot of reaction, both for and against. Among the responses was the obscenity-laced one from the UCLA student who wrote that Jews were "troglodyte albino monsters of cultural destruction."

The student also called for all Jews to go "back to Israel." Some Jewish students asked that she be fired from her UCLA work-study job. The university condemned her comments as "reprehensible," but decided against firing her, upholding her right to free speech on social media.

In another incident in February of last year, Rachel Beyda, a Jewish student who was running for student government, was questioned at length about whether her Jewish background would color who judgment about certain issues.

The first questioner during her confirmation hearing to the Student Council's Judicial Board asked, "Given that you a Jewish student and very active in the Jewish community, how do you see yourself being able to maintain an unbiased view?" The questioning continued along those lines for 40 minutes before a faculty member interrupted to point out that belonging to Jewish organizations is not a conflict of interest.

The line of questioning was perceived by other Jewish students as blatant bigotry and anti-Jewish sentiment on campus, that similar questions would not have been asked of students with different backgrounds or religion.

Beyda was eventually elected to the board by a unanimous vote.

Observers suggest some of the anti-Semitic rhetoric can be traced to the pro-Palestine BDS movement on college campuses. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement is a global campaign calling for political pressure on Israel to end occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and support a Palestinian repatriation. Critics claim the movement - which has called for colleges and universities to divest from Israel - fosters anti-Semitism by singling out Israel for boycott.

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