Letter to the Editor: A Hollow Victory for the Jewish Community


Margaux Gundzik

Last night, UCSB’s student senate met to discuss and vote on a student-written resolution calling for the divestment from companies that aid the Israeli Defense Forces. According to its authors, the resolution was written in solidarity with the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS) movement, an anti-Semitic movement that seeks the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel.

Because of its linkage to BDS as well as its denial of the Jewish race’s right to self-determination, I—as a Jewish student—was threatened by the resolution, as were many members of the Jewish community. We attended last night’s senate meeting and spoke at public forum, begging our senators not to pass this resolution that perpetuated hate towards our specific minority group. Similarly, many students in favor of the resolution attended the meeting to oppose my community and press for the passing of this resolution.

After eight hours of public forum, 12 senators voted to pass the resolution, 12 voted not to pass it, and one abstained. It was only due to the chair’s tie-breaking vote that the resolution did not pass. Despite the end result, I do not consider last night’s meeting a victory. I am disturbed that half of my student representatives felt it right to pass a resolution that countless Jewish students vocalized as being offensive, threatening, and blatantly anti-Semitic.

Furthermore, I am disgusted by the normalization of anti-Semitic language so casually thrown around at the meeting. In those eight hours, I was told that Jews control the government, that all Jews are rich, that Zionism is racism, that the marginalization of Jewish students is justified because it prevents the marginalization of other minority groups, that Israel sterilizes its Ethiopian women (this is obviously not true), and that Palestinians in America who speak out against Israel are sought out by the IDF and denied entrance into Israel (also a ridiculous conspiracy theory). I heard a senator—someone who is supposed to be my representative—say that people were only voting against this resolution because they were afraid of losing “Jew support.” I heard my peers laugh at the mention of terrorists hurling stones at the heads of Israeli civilians intending to kill them. I saw students smile and cheer enthusiastically as a woman stood up and said the words, “I am ashamed to be a Jew.” The rhetoric I heard from students opposing Israel at this meeting could easily be equated to arguments that I have only seen in quotes at museums or mentioned in textbooks for their use in the justification of historical persecution of the Jewish race.

Ironically, it was the people who made these statements who also argued that this resolution was not anti-Semitic and that my personal feelings of it being anti-Semitic were invalid.

If any other minority had voiced these same concerns regarding any other resolution, no administration would dare question the validity of their feelings. The resolution would be dismissed without question. Yet, my community is forced to stand in front of hundreds of people year after year and explain to them why something is racially offensive to us.

I am exhausted of constantly having to defend my own identity to everyone. It is not fair that I should have to go to great lengths to prove that someone’s words are internally damaging to my own self-worth while such measures would never be required of any other minority.

I am frustrated because, after reading this, most people still will not understand how difficult it is to wake up in a world ridden with anti-Semitism every single day. Bigoted stereotypes of Jews having power and control have become so ingrained in our society that it they have succeeded in invalidating Jewish people’s legitimate feelings of marginalization.

I am ostracized and made fun of by majority groups because I am different, yet at the same time, I am not even afforded the decency of being recognized as a minority by other minority groups. Sadly, last night’s events only reminded me how truly alone the Jewish community is and continues to remain.


  1. I won’t comment on the Israel-Palestine conflict, nor on the divestment bill, although I attended the meeting on Wednesday. I’ll say only this much: when you say, “if any other minority had voiced these same concerns regarding any other resolution, no administration would dare question the validity of their feelings,” I have to agree with you. The Jewish people attending the meeting were largely on the defensive; if they had spoken about Palestinians in the same way that members of SJP spoke about Jews, there would be rampant outrage and labeling of Islamophobia. My personal feelings about divestment aside, I agree that this is a double standard.

  2. Wow. This is an incredibly sad letter. As a graduate of UCSB it makes me ashamed and as a Jew it frightens me. Bravo to the Jewish students who tried to stand up to the senate. The so called BDS movement must be fought and defeated!

  3. Anti-Semitism is the new anti- racism. Jew-hatred in the name of fighting racism is the intellectual trend, while also being intellectually and morally vapid at the same time.

  4. I respect that you feel targeted and marginalized. That’s a terrible feeling and I’m sorry.

    That being said, I want to clarify something that you said. Israel has sterilized Ethiopian immigrants. Rom Ganzu (Israeli Health Ministry Director) has admitted this, and it has been discussed in many reputable sources.

    In terms of the comment about “Jew support”, I can’t say that I know exactly what that Senator meant, since I am obviously not that Senator. However, as someone who has seen the issue of BDS come up every year around student government elections, I am assuming that this Senator meant that the Jewish community mobilizes votes in favor of one particular group. I don’t think they meant to reinforce the stereotype that Jewish people control the government, I think they were just demonstrating that Jewish support helps the campaign of a particular group.

    Still, all forms of oppression, violence, and marginalization are wrong. I am sad to hear that you feel alone, but I am glad to know that UCSB has a strong, very close Jewish community that you can go to.

  5. “Rom Ganzu (Israeli Health Ministry Director) has admitted this, and it has been discussed in many reputable sources”

    No, that’s incorrect. Reuters: “Ministry Director-General Roni Gamzu said the decision did not imply he accepted the allegations by the Association of Civil Rights in Israel”

    See http://elderofziyon.blogspot.ca/2013/01/did-israelis-force-contraception-on.html#.VTLW21p9rzZ for a summary of the issue.

    And use of phrase “many reputable sources” is fallacious.

  6. It’s intersting to see that undergraduates are as mindless as my contemporaries 50 years ago. I am not worried. They will grow out of it, I hope.

  7. Good for you, Margaux.

    Is this the kind of debate the university is encouraging? It is shameful. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has zero impact on student life at any university. Only the well-organized pro-Palestinian crowd has made it such a hot-button issue. How can any student government justify devoting 8 hours to this issue, which once again has brought out the Jew hatred behind the BDS movement? When such brown shirt language enters into the debate, the student leaders should call a halt. Better yet, they should never have even entertained this nonsense.

    As to that Jewish woman who said she was ashamed to be a Jew.

    Ashamed of what? Are you ashamed at everything your people have accomplished in the world, not just in Israel, but Europe the US, and other places? You should be proud. The side you support stands in stark contrast and does not merit your support. You should wake up to the fact that anti-Jew hatred is the biggest hate problem in America today. And guess where the focal point is: Right smack dab on our campuses as exemplified by this.

    Shame on all of the UC chancellors and presidents (past and present) who have turned a blind eye to this growing cancer on campus. I have spent years down here at UC Irvine listening to the hateful rants of speakers like Amir Abdel Malik Ali and others who are brought into the annual anti-Israel hate fests. Nobody can tell me there is no anti-Semitism going on in the UC campuses. (And I’m not even Jewish.)

    Keep fighting Margaux. believe it or not, you do have support.

    Gary Fouse
    Adj teacher
    UC Irvine Ext

  8. The African immigrant women who entered Israel asked for a contraceptive injection that lasts a few months. In their culture, they have no reproductive rights and can new murdered for using contraception via an honor killing. There has never been a single case of forced sterilization.

  9. That whole “sterilization” scandal blew up from one dumbass Haaretz reporter’s misinterpretation of an e-mail. He saw an e-mail to doctors in the field that said: don’t renew the women’s birth control prescriptions if they don’t seem to understand the side effects. Haaretz, being Haaretz, wrote it up as “OMG Ethiopian women are unknowingly receiving birth control shots!” And of course, tons of morons in the west who don’t speak or read Hebrew, but who believe that Jews (sorry, I meant “Zionists”) are evil and they were willing to take this story and run with it, despite doing no research, inquiries, or fact-checking of their own (because fact-checking might show this to be a non-story, which would be so disappointing).

    To believe the sterilization story, you’d have to believe that some decision-makers in Israel are saying, “Let’s rescue this community in Ethiopia at considerable risk and cost to ourselves, and bring them to Israel with citizenship,… and oh yeah, while we’re at it, let’s sterilize them.” When we get to the point where we’re debating this, we’re dealing with people whose political stances are based not n logic and facts, but on emotions and soundbites.

  10. I’m glad you wrote this Margaux. What you’re dealing with is clearly not a pro-human rights campaign, but a campaign of demonization and Antisemitism in the guise of a human rights campaign. The only people targeted by these “peacemakers” are JEWS. They lie when speaking about Jews. They lie when speaking about Israel. This is because the facts are not on their side. But this is not an argument that will be won with facts. It is a fight that will be decided via emotional impact. They know that. We should know it too. I think the fight needs to be taken to the enemy; they must be called out as the next chapter of Antisemitism that seeks explicitly to separate out and cause harm to the Jewish people. Those standing in their ranks should know that they will be called out on their hatred, and even if it’s embarrassing, those standing by silently must be called out for allowing evil to persist, thrive, and destroy. Their place in history must be pointed out. They are part of a long line of people who have obsessed with the destruction of the Jewish people. Considering everything else that’s wrong in the world, or even just in that region of the world, the term “obsession” is not too strong.

    Keep fighting, ask for help when you need it, and Kol Hakavod for beating down the most recent BDS resolution. Thank you. Am Yisrael Chai.

  11. This rampant anti-semitism is beginning to remind me of the 50s and 60s. Post-war scary times for Jews. I lived in what was the so-called anti-semitism capital of the United States, Minneapolis. It was pretty bad: covenants restricting where you could buy homes, hospitals Jewish doctors were not allowed to practice in and worse. And this is how Holocaust survivors were treated as well as all Jews. I pray that we’re not returning to those horrible times. Please keep up the pressure and do not acquiesce to the hate-speak. And please repeat, Never Again. Never Again. Am Y’israel chai.

  12. Margaux, stay strong! It is horrifying that this “movement ” founded on ignorence, lies, and hate has grown unabated on campus. It is appalling that the administration and faculty collectively have been deaf, dumb, and blind to this matter throughout the entire university system – with tragically few exceptions . It is incomprehensible that no one from the Jewish community outside of the campuses have come forward to help you fight. Nationally, we should all be concerned about this ugly fog that has engulfed so many schools because these students will be some of tomorrow’s leadership of our country . Pretty frighteniNg!

  13. Margaux – Thank you for being there and fighting the good fight. Evil, as proponents of this resolution represent, must be confronted at every turn.

  14. the left wing politics of moral equivalence is alive and well on too many college campuses. these folks like to think themselves as above the fray of reality and yearn for a utopia where all the “bad” perpetuated by us comes home to roost. the right doesn’t paint everything with grey colored paint strokes, there is right and wrong and decisions have consequences. this is not about religion but on how we live no matter the place, time or situation.
    the drugs must be getting worse on college campuses since i went to school back in 1978 – so many are brain dead.

  15. I would challenge every single accusation to be written in paper and allowed to be discussed, proved, disprove. I would challenge those accusing Jews of blood label to read loudly Hamas and PA charter. I would challenge them to name on leader among palestinians to named as an example of a leader they would praise as worthy of having peace talks with. I would ask them percentage of palestinians living in Jordan and why is Jordan not a palestine. what rights palestinians have in all muslims countries including Jordan that has 90 percent palestinian population governed by a king that has zero ancestry claim to Jordan? i would tell them about grand mufti of Jerusalem that worked closely with hitler for 4 years helping him annihilate Jews and that his legacy is what pa and hamas are carrying in their agenda. I would tell them that Gaza population was part of egypt and they are egyptians. Why Egypt does not want Gaza back? why Jordan does not west bank back? because Arafat was a egyptian set up to continue the nazi legacy to annihilate jews. Arafat is not palestinian. i would ask them to explain why hezbollah is arming in lebanon by Iran to annihilate israel? why Iran is chanting death to Israel? why Iran, Russia and all middle east is in denial of holocaust? is it because if it did not happened, then it can happen in the future. why are they not angry at Egypt for blocking Gaza? their own citizens in Gaza? because muslim world can’t stand any other religion next to them.

  16. Another important reason to support and strengthen http://www.Hillel.org on all college campuses. A wonderful organization that helps educate Jewish students and give Jewish students a comfortable place as a home away from home .

  17. ‘Clarification’ is mistaken in his allegations. Ethiopian women (some) were given birth control. Not uncommon. However this practice was discontinued when it was ascertained that the women did not fully understand that the birth control was fairly long-acting. Concerning West Bank Hospitals – it is good to always remember that the sterilization of the muslim girls was done by muslim authorities.

  18. The BDS effort is terribly misguided and yes, it is by its nature anti-Semitic. The reasons giving rise to this unfortunate effort are very complex. It is not altogether clear whether Israel made a terrible mistake when it colonized the West Bank. However, Boycotting, Divesting and Sanctioning will not produce the intended results: political freedom for Arabs living in the West Bank. Israel is the only real democracy in the Middle East. The Arab and Islamic population in Israel and West Bank enjoy a higher standard of living and political rights than they have in other Arab countries. Resolution of the Arab-Israeli problem is an ongoing process—it will take many years and probably a new generation of Israelis and Arabs to resolve. The situation in Israel should never be compared to the Apartheid regime in South Africa. Their origins and reasons are very different. What is needed most is patience, persistence and respect. Given the current political upheaval in Arab counties (e.g., Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Tunisia, Algeria, and more), the current Israel occupation of the West Bank ensures peace and stability for both Israel citizens and West Bankers. The BDS movement will only detract to the peace process.

  19. I am shocked that twelve voted for this outrageous act. It is NOT the Jewish community setting off bombs in MY country and across the world! I will not be voting in favor of anyone who condones such discrimination.

  20. Wow, Margaux, I can’t believe you are experiencing such anti-semitism. I am proud that you are proud of who you are, you have many reasons to be proud of being Jewish, and to be proud of what the tiny Jewish country has accomplished.
    It is people like you, the young Jewish students, who are standing up right now for the Jewish people. You have been thrust right into this crazy situation, and I admire your strength. Keep on being proud, keep on defending Israel, there are many fellow Jews in America and Israel who are counting on you.

  21. Thank you for writing this letter. As a arab it irks me that many of my people are doing a disservice to our own people by going on a suicide mission of destroying the image if israel. I say suicide because all this effort can be used to actually help our people and create opportunity but instead we focus on hate. Worst of all is that these western students who have no clue what is going on in the middle east buy in to this propaganda and think they are helping when all they are doing is destroying.

  22. The SJP has nothing to do with justice for Palestinians and everything to do with spreading hate on campuses and demonizing Israel. Have any of their words or actions has ever helped any Palestinians? The answer is no. They are a bunch of psychos obsessed with Israel, consumed by jealousy and hate.
    Thank you for standing up to these people! I am really sorry for what is happening on your campus, but I am glad people like you are there defending what is right!

  23. It is shocking to me that in this century the racism and antisemetism that still exists. I am not Jewish but am the Mother of a UCSB a student. It saddens me to see that 12 people actually voted in favor of this. I will bet some people do not even know what BDS stands for. Just in case you don’t not know its stands for divestment, boycott and sanction. If people actually knew all of the Israeli technology we use on a daily basis perhaps they would think twice. Medical technology we use in our hospitals, computer technology and irrigation technology that is used to grow most of our fruits and vegetables here in California are all products of Isreal. It is amazing how much innovation comes out of a small country like Isreal and we have all benefited by it. Perhaps the next time you bite into that strawberry or orange you might think twice about it and how easy it would be to divest. Instead maybe you should focus on the good things that Isreal does for this world. I really wonder what our schools are teaching these days? It concerns me the tuition I am paying is poisoning my child’s my mind. Shouldn’t we be teaching tolerance and understanding? It’s a good thing my child has a Mother who can at least do that since our Universities seem to be failing.
    There are two sides to every story so before you are quick to judge the Jewish people, perhaps educate yourself first. Sadly I am a graduate of UCLA. Unfortunately they voted for BDS.They will never get another penny from me as a donor because of this. This was probably a smart move for UCSB in the long run because they stand to lose some serious funding. It is sad to me these Jewish students had to suffer through this hatred. I will be sure to talk to my daughter about joining forces as a gentile to support the Jewish student population there. No student should have to feel unwelcome at their own university.
    Lastly BDS goes against everything that America stands for, so does racism and intolerance. We have no need for this in 2015. I stand behind the students brave enough to stand up for what is right and so does my daughter. Keep up the good work.

  24. Im a Brit and a Christian and have to tell the Jewish students in those campuses across America you will lose against the modern day fascists who have infiltrated your universities . When the Charlie Hebdo slaughter happened millions walked the streets holding placards saying we are Charlie where were the placards saying we are Jews for those innocent Jews murdered because THEY WERE JEWS.They didnt insult the prophet but were targeted just the same. The French president didnt want Netanyahu to attend why because Paris has a huge Muslim population and it was from that population the terrorists came to murder. Jewish students even those who say they are ashamed to be Jewish wont find protection in 21st century America the media and the Obama government are pro Muslim/Palestinian and safety for you is only in one place ISRAEL. Its happening across Europe a movement of the Jewish population to Israel they have realised that even with millions being slaughtered by Islamic Jihadists over a decade it is still Jews who are being blamed for it. My advice is hope a pro Israel President is elected or make the move just like your fellow Jews in Europe have done.

  25. im posting again because I just read two posts one that disturbed me one that gave me hope…the post by the Black Smurf is the one that disturbed me classic hatred… he would have felt at home in the SS or Gestapo…here in the UK he would be arrested for such anti semitic remarks but not in the US it seems…the other which gives me hope is by Moustafa if only there were more Arab/Muslims like him (there probably are but might be afraid to speak out) then my pessimism would fade away…to the Black Serf I will say this such unadulterated hatred will always be defeated history proves that…to Moustafa your words give us all hope thank you for them

  26. Mostafa, I agree with you very much. Those who are in favor of truly giving everyone equal rights in Israel should be taking an active role in doing so. This sounds a lot like what happened at UC Davis last year. When divestment does not pass, there is no real celebration or need for celebration. It’s just a moment to breathe. I’m sorry this took such a toll on the student body.

  27. First of all Margaux, congratulations to you for speaking so forcefully and especially for unmasking the phony claims that the anti-Zionism of BDS is not in fact anti-Semitic.

    Having said that, I see a profound weakness in your formula as you state it here: “I am disturbed that half of my student representatives felt it right to pass a resolution that countless Jewish students vocalized as being offensive, threatening, and blatantly anti-Semitic.” Your duty to speak out against anti-Semitism is all you need as a basis for standing tall. The fact that this anti-Semitism offends “countless Jewish students” is not relevant in the least – no more relevant than if it offended countless non-Jewish students, which it should equally. The idea that any opinion or political idea is off-limits because some find it “offensive and threatening” buys into the totalitarian anti-free-speech ideology of your enemies. That anti-Semitic ideas “offend” you is true, I am sure, and should be, but it is also irrelevant. The claim that any set of ideas, as ideas, are “threatening” suggests that they are actually dangerous actions, not mere ideas, and that they can therefore be suppressed as any dangerous action should be. Your best and most principled view here ought to be, instead, that none of this nonsense threatens you or offends in the least. It is beneath your dignity to credit it even so much as to complain of its “offensiveness.” You should in fact welcome the light these people shine on themselves by their own words – and fight back as hard as you can. The entire apparatus of trigger-warning hurt feeling-ism is your biggest road block in doing this. Stand tall.