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Anti-Semitism 101

Sarah Buzaglo

Verbal harassment. Prejudice. Physical assaults. Ostracization. All this and worse face Jewish students on campuses nationwide, the latest manifestation of the oldest hatred.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Members of the UCLA student council were uncomfortable. Standing before them wasRachelBeyda, a sophomore economics major who dreamed of one day becoming a lawyer. A president-elect of her sorority, Beyda had been nominated to serve as a justice on the student council’s judicial board, a university Supreme Court responsible for ensuring that rules are adhered to. But there was something nagging at the members of the council on this early February day, something unspeakable and bothersome. “Given that you are a Jewish student and very active in the Jewish community,” asked one of the council members in her opening query, “how do you see yourself being able to maintain an unbiased view?” With that statement, the latest scandal on campus anti-Semitism was born. At first, Beyda’s nomination was denied. Another council member described her apprehensions this way: “For some reason, I’m not 100 percent comfortable. I don’t know why. I’ll go through her application again. I’ve been going through it constantly, but I definitely can see that she’s qualified for sure.” After that initial vote, a faculty member in attendance politely informed the members of the council that there was a difference between a real conflict of interest and a perceived conflict of interest. With that small lesson in jurisprudence, Beyda, a native of Cupertino, California, was confirmed unanimously. But not before a 40-minute discussion during which Beyda’s participation in UCLA’sHillel became a point of interest and a hint of divided loyalties hung in the air. “Justices must determine whether activities and clubs are comporting with the student body rules or violating them,” statesShukiGreer, second-year law student at UCLA and president of the UCLA chapter of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights, which is dedicated to combating anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism on university campuses. “The insinuation here is that because of her religion, Beyda will be incapable of fulfilling her job, [but] that notion is preposterous. Take any appointed judge who is Jewish: His rulings are based on the laws that were written, not his religious or political affiliation. Why isRachel any different? This is a blatant case of anti-Semitism.”RachelBeyda’s story has captured the attention of national media, but to those following anti-Jewish trends, it’s only the latest round in an ongoing campaign to delegitimize Israel. McCarthy-like anti-Semitism on campus? In 2015? Researchers in the field and campus activists say it’s only getting worse. A recent study conducted by Trinity College and the Brandeis Center found that 54 percent of Jewish students reported instances of anti-Semitism during the first six months of the 2013–2014 academic year.

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