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Anti-Zionists in University of California Ethnic Studies Department Promoting Hatred of Israel, New Study Finds

Illustrative: Thousands of anti-Israel demonstrators from the Midwest gather in support of Palestinians and hold a rally and march through the Loop in Chicago on Oct. 21, 2023. Photo: Alexandra Buxbaum/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect

Activist scholars employed by the Critical Race and Ethnic Studies (CRES) department of the University of California, Santa Cruz are using their classrooms to promote extremist anti-Zionist propaganda, according to a new study by antisemitism watchdog group AMCHA Initiative.

The university’s “CRES department has engaged in anti-Zionist advocacy and activism since at least May 2021, when CRES pledged departmental allegiance to ‘the struggle for Palestinian liberation’ and committed its faculty to bringing the academic boycott of Israel onto campus and into the classrooms,” AMCHA said in a press release on Thursday. “However, according to the study, incidents involving CRES’s anti-Zionist political advocacy and activism have drastically increased in frequency and intensity since Hamas’ massacre of Israeli civilians on Oct. 7, 2023.”

AMCHA’s new report cites a litany of what it describes as politically motivated decisions CRES leaders have made both before and after the Oct. 7 onslaught, including the creation of the Institute for the Critical Study of Zionism (ICSZ), which declares on its website that Zionism is a “colonial racial project” and that Israel is a “settler colonial state.” The organization was co-founded by a professor who said in a podcast interview last year that academics should “tie [Zionism] to this much larger Western supremacy and white supremacy” and “de-link the study of Zionism from Jewish studies.”

Among other incidents, CRES issued a statement rationalizing Hamas’ terrorism on Oct. 7, an act of mass violence in which Palestinian terrorists from Gaza murdered 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapped 240 others during a rampage across southern Israel. There has also been mounting evidence showing the terrorists committed widespread torture and sexual violence, including mass rapes, against Israeli women and girls.

“What we are witnessing needs to be understood in the context of 75 years of settler colonial displacement, military occupation, and enclosure,” the department said in the statement cited in the AMCHA report. “As in the past, racialized media coverage dehumanizes Palestinians, delegitimizing their aspirations for freedom from militarism, colonial rule, and incarceration.”

Additionally, the department participated on Oct. 20 in a “Call for a Global General Strike,” refusing to work because Israel mounted a military response to Hamas’ atrocities — an action CRES called “Israel’s genocidal attack on Gaza.” On Oct. 24, the department held an event titled, “The Genocide in Gaza in our [sic] Classrooms: A Teaching Palestine Workshop,” in which professors and teaching assistants were trained in how to persuade students that Zionism is a racist and genocidal endeavor.

“CRES’s commitment to anti-Zionist political advocacy and activism, as a department and as a core element of its discipline, can’t help but corrupt the academic mission of the university and violate students’ fundamental right to be educated and not indoctrinated,” AMCHA Initiative director and co-founder Tammi Rossman-Benjamin said on Thursday. “Our research has consistently shown that on campuses where individual faculty and departments use educational spaces for anti-Zionist political advocacy and activism, rates of antisemitic activity — including assaults, threats of harm, vandalism, and bullying — are significantly elevated.”

AMCHA, as well as other civil rights and educational organizations, have previously issued warnings about the allegedly political and even antisemitic motivations of Ethnic Studies departments throughout the University of California system (UC). Last September, about 100 such organizations called on UC to reject a proposal that would require applicants to schools in the UC system to take an ethnic studies course, arguing that anti-Zionist activists are developing and leading the effort to implement the measure.

Some of the leading academics pushing for mandatory ethnics studies courses are anti-Zionists. Christine Hong, chair of CRES at UC Santa Cruz, co-chairs the UC Academic Senate working group developing the admissions proposal. Another co-founder of ICSZ, Hong said on a podcast last August that ethnic studies should teach “the extraordinary violence of Zionism, the settler colonial violence, [and] the militarism that is inflicted on Palestine and Palestinian people.”

Rossman-Benjamin urged the public on Thursday to also focus its attention on CRES’s activities in their children’s school districts. If UC approves the proposal for mandatory ethnic studies, high schools across California would offer such courses based on the criteria developed by CRES faculty and other academics in the field of critical ethnic studies.

“Shockingly, these same professors who are using their university positions and resources to unabashedly promote anti-Zionism and antisemitism are the ones who our state has entrusted with developing what will be taught to every California student about Jews and Israel,” Rossman-Benjamin said.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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Brown University Investigating Threats of Violence Sent to Hillel Officials

More than 200 Brown University students gathered outside University Hall where roughly 40 students sat inside demanding the school divest from weapons manufacturers amid the Israel-Hamas war. Photo: Amy Russo / USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters Connect

Two officials of Brown-RISD Hillel, a Jewish life  center serving both Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design, were sent “violent threats” early Sunday morning, according to a report by The Brown Daily Herald.

After being alerted of threats, which were sent via email, the university’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) conducted a search of Brown-RISD Hillel and determined there is “no evidence of any one-site threat.” DPS vice president Rodney Chatman told The Brown Daily Herald that “local, state, and federal authorities” are investigating the incident.

“This comes at an especially difficult time of distress on our campuses,” Brown University president Christina H. Paxson said in a statement addressing the incident. “Our students, faculty, and staff continue to grapple with the deaths of Israelis, Palestinians, and others in the wake of the October 7 attacks, as well as a despicable act of violence against a member of the Brown community here in the United States last November, and increases in reports of antisemitism, Islamophobia and other forms of hate.”

In Sunday’s statement President Paxson said that “robust” security measures will be implemented to protect Brown-RISD Hillel, as well as the officials who were threatened, from harm.

The incident is not the first antisemitic act of hatred since Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7.

In December, the university’s Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity opened an investigation into an incident in which someone slipped a threatening note underneath the door of an off-campus apartment rented by Jewish students.

“Those who live for death will die by their own hand,” said the note, which, according to the Brown Daily Herald, matches lyrics from a song by an early 1980s punk band. The paper added that the note was found by an electrician, who brought it inside.

A similar incident occurred last November at a Brown-RISD Hillel. Additionally, in 2020, a swastika was graffitied in Brown’s Hegeman Hall. In 2017, another was found in a gender-neutral bathroom at RISD. It was drawn using human feces, according to the Brown Daily Herald.

Last week, President Paxson rejected the demands of anti-Zionist students who were participating in a hunger strike in an effort to force the Brown Corporation to vote on a boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) resolution against Israel and make other concessions.

The university has twice ordered the arrests of extremist anti-Zionists student protesters, who have held unauthorized demonstrations in administration buildings, sometimes occupying them for hours after being asked to leave. Over 40 were arrested in December while onlookers shouted “Shame on Brown, Shame on Brown!”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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‘Free Palestine:’ Texas Church Shooter Suspected of Having Pro-Hamas Ideology

Genesse Ivonne Moreno, 36, shot a man at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, on February 12, 2024. Photo: Twitter

A woman who stormed a church in Houston, Texas, on Sunday with an AR-15 rifle and shot one person before being killed by police was apparently a Hamas supporter, according to details on the incident reported by CNN.

On Monday, the outlet reported that “Free Palestine” was written on the shooter’s rifle.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the shooter has since been identified as Genesse Ivonne Moreno, 36. The woman has an extensive criminal history which includes arrests for marijuana possession, assault, theft, and forgery.

On Sunday afternoon, Moreno walked into the Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas — an institution famous for being the church of charismatic Christian preacher Joel Osteen — with a child and a gun. Wearing a trench coat and a knapsack, she threatened to have explosives, according to multiple reports. Most of the worshipers in attendance were Hispanic and attending a Spanish language service.

Moreno shot one man, leaving him critically injured, and was shot and killed by Houston Police. A child was also shot during the incident, but police are still unsure of whether they or Moreno are responsible for doing it.

“I want to commend those officers. She had a long gun and it could have been a lot worse,”  Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said during a press conference later in the day.

An investigation of Moreno’s motives is ongoing.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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London Theater Facing Legal Action After Comedy Show Turns Into ‘Antisemitic Rally’

British comedian Paul Currie. Photo: Instagram

A London theater is facing legal action after an Israeli man was hounded out of a comedy show on Saturday night by a comedian performing a one-man show that turned into what some audience members compared to an “antisemitic rally.”

A spokesperson for the UK’s Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) said the group was in touch with the Israeli man and other members of the audience who fled from the theater.

“What the Jewish audience members have recounted is atrocious, and we are working with them and our lawyers to ensure that those who instigated and enabled it are held to account,” the CAA spokesperson told London’s Evening Standard news outlet. “These allegations are of deeply disturbing discriminatory abuse against Jews. Comedians are rightly given broad latitude, but hounding Jews out of theaters is reminiscent of humanity’s darkest days, and must have no place in central London in 2024.”

The comedian, Paul Currie, had been performing a one-man show entitled “Shtoom” at London’s Soho Theater. Towards the end of his performance, he retrieved a Ukrainian and Palestinian flag and invited members to stand and applaud.

After the round of applause was over, Currie pointed to a man in the second row of the theater and quizzed him over why he had not stood up.

The unnamed man, an Israeli, replied, “I enjoyed your show until you brought out the Palestinian flag.” An infuriated Currie began screaming, “Leave my show now! Get out of my f—-ing show!” in response.

As the man and his partner rose to leave, accompanied by a handful of other shocked audience members, the assembled crowd began chanting “Get out” and “Free Palestine.”

In a written complaint to the theater over his treatment, the man wrote: ” Shaken and feeling threatened by the growing antagonism, we exited and tried to complain/ get some support from the front-of-house team at the theatre, who were not very sympathetic but did give us an email address to make a complaint. By this time, the show had ended and the audience started exiting, a number of whom were glaring at us aggressively and in a very threatening way. We all left the scene.”

He added: “Our friends later received a message from someone they knew who had also been at the show, saying that after we left, the situation became even more inflamed. What had been intended to be an evening of comedy turned out to be what felt like an antisemitic rally.”

The theater eventually apologized, issuing a statement expressing regret an “an incident that took place at our venue at the end of a performance of Paul Currie: Shtoom on Saturday 10 February, which has caused upset and hurt to members of audience attending and others.” It added: “We take this very seriously and are looking into the detail of what happened as thoroughly, as sensitively, and as quickly as we can. It is important to us that Soho theatre is a welcoming and inclusive place for all.”

Currie has remained largely silent since the incident, save for a post on Instagram which quoted Mexican poet Cesar A. Cruz saying: “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”  He then added: “If you were at my show last night… you’ll know.”

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