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Berkeley student association passes resolution condemning Islamophobic hate speech

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
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Graphic: @BerkeleySJP

Last month Alex Kane reported how student activists exposed a video of University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) Hebrew lecturer Tammi Rossman-Benjamin using inflammatory Islamophobic rhetoric accusing student Palestinian rights activists of being anti-Semites with ties to terrorist organizations. UCSC Committee for Justice in Palestine promptly started a petition calling on University of California President Mark Yudof to “take a clear stand against hate speech” by condemning Rossman-Benjamin’s hateful attacks on Muslim/Arab student groups.

Making their stance official on Wednesday night Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC) at Berkeley unanimously passed Resolution SB 114 Condemning Islamophobic Hate Speech at the University of California.

Rossman-Benjamin is the head of a Zionist pressure group, the AMCHA Initiative. AMCHA’s stated intention is “to ensure the protection of Jewish students” against “intimidation, harassment, bullying, and anti-Jewish bigotry,” on California campuses and influence “University policy across the State of California.” It attempts to accomplish this by pressuring college administrations and state officials to investigate students and faculty who advocate for Palestinians rights. Resolution SB 114, in line with the earlier petition, calls on President Mark Yudof to condemn  “inflammatory, hateful, and racist assumptions by UCSC lecturer Tammi Rossman-Benjamin against Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian students, and Palestinian rights activists”. Yesterday, University of California Santa Cruz Committee for Justice in Palestine (UCSC CJP) shot off this tweet to Yudof and UCSC’s Dean of Students:

Associated Students of the University of California Official Senate Blog posted the text of Resolution SB 114 (below) along with this heartfelt message:

Hello Community,

I rarely post about a specific bills, but this one in specific will have a special place in my heart. The bill addresses the hate speech UC Santa Cruz lecturer and the inaction by the UC Office of the President to address this issue…….

Tonight I want to thank the MEMSA community members who showed up tonight and were brave enough to share the harsh realities faced by the Muslim community in post-9/11 America. I also want to thank Senator Sadia Saifuddin for consistently being open in sharing her experiences as a Muslim womyn….



A Resolution Condemning Islamophobic Hate Speech at the University of California

Authored By: Senator Sadia Saifuddin

Co-sponsored By: Senator Sadia Saifuddin, Senator Klein Lieu, Senator Rosemary Hua, Senator George Kadifa, Senator Daley Vertiz

WHEREAS, the University of California has identified the issue of campus climate as a priority for administration, staff, and students across the UC system; and,

WHEREAS, the UC prides itself on welcoming students from any race, religion, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, yet pockets of racism and hate still exist on this campus which makes the UC an unwelcoming experience for certain communities; and,

WHEREAS, Islamophobia is defined as the irrational fear of Islam, Muslims, or anything related to the Islamic or Arab cultures and traditions; and,

WHEREAS, since September 11, 2001, Islamophobia has become the latest “hazing” technique across the United States and has created a chilling effect for Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians in their communities, work-environments, and campuses; and,

WHEREAS, according to a Gallup Study, 60% of of Muslim Americans say that Muslims face prejudice from Americans [1]; and,

WHEREAS, 48% of Muslim Americans say that they have personally faced racial or religious discrimination, which is on par with Hispanic Americans (48%), and African Americans (45%), while 54% of Arab Americans say they have experienced this type of discrimination[2]; and,

WHEREAS, since 2006, Muslim students have been targeted for surveillance by the FBI in Orange County, who said that they are paying particular attention to Muslim students at UC Irvine and UCLA; and,

WHEREAS, this surveillance is occurring on the East Coast as well, with the New York Police Department surveillance of Muslim students at Yale, Columbia, Syracuse, Rutgers, New York University, and Brooklyn College [3]; and,

WHEREAS, these racist and selective surveillance procedures are justified by figures in mainstream media, such as David Horowitz, who defines the core mission of the MSA to “advance the Islamic Jihad against the Jews and Christians of the Middle East, and ultimately against the United States”, and,

WHEREAS, attempts to mischaracterize and chill Palestinian activism have occurred on Berkeley’s own campus, with a lawsuit filed in July 2011(later dismissed in court) against the UC Regents and President Mark Yudof containing extremely Islamophobic and anti-Arab rhetoric referring to Students for Justice in Palestine and the Muslims Students Association as “anti-Semitic” and “pro-terrorist”; and,

WHEREAS, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege that “the more publicly active SJP may be understood as the more militant arm of the outwardly benevolent MSA” and that SJP, MSA, and MSU all “fund terrorism” and are tied to terrorist groups; and,

WHEREAS, more recently, UC Santa Cruz lecturer Tammi Rossman-Benjamin has been responsible for inciting racist and Islamophobic rhetoric by claimings that students in the MSA and SJP are “…generally motivated by very strong religious and political convictions, they have a fire in their belly, they come to the university, many of them are foreign students who come from countries and cultures where anti-Semitism is how they think about the world … These are not your ordinary student groups like College Republicans or Young Democrats. These are students who come with a serious agenda, who have ties to terrorist organizations.”; and,

WHEREAS, claims such as those cited above create an unsafe and divisive environment for Middle Eastern, Muslim, South Asian students, and others who may be perceived as being of similar descent, and these claims are completely opposite to the values of a premier university system; and,

WHEREAS, the President of the University of California, Mark Yudof, is responsible for advocating for all students regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation; and,




WHEREAS, the University of California is no place for hateful and inflammatory rhetoric and holds its students, faculty, staff, and affiliates to higher standards that promote a positive and inclusive campus climate; therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED, that the ASUC condemn the remarks of lecturer Tammi Rossman-Benjamin and those described in the above-mentioned lawsuit as hateful and inflammatory; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the ASUC urge President Mark Yudof to condemn these inflammatory, hateful, and racist assumptions by UCSC lecturer Tammi Rossman-Benjamin against Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian students, and Palestinian rights activists; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that EAVP Shahryar Abbasi write a letter to UCOP condemning the racist and bigoted language by Tammi Rossman-Benjamin and President Yudof’s failure to address the matter, as well as passing a similar bill with UCSA; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the ASUC urge other campuses to pass similar bills in their respective student governments.

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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11 Responses

  1. DICKERSON3870
    March 22, 2013, 3:51 pm

    RE: Rossman-Benjamin is the head of a Zionist pressure group, the AMCHA Initiative. AMCHA’s stated intention is “to ensure the protection of Jewish students” against “intimidation, harassment, bullying, and anti-Jewish bigotry,” on California campuses and influence “University policy across the State of California.” ~ Annie Robbins

    MY COMMENT: And sadly, AMCHA is just one of many, many pro-Israel pressure groups working to stifle pro-Palestinian speech on America’s college campuses.

    SEE: “The Trial of Israel’s Campus Critics”, by David Theo Goldberg & Saree Makdisi, Tikkun Magazine, September/October 2009

    [EXCERPT] . . . It is an extraordinary fact that no fewer than thirty-three distinct organizations – including AIPAC, the Zionist Organization of America, the American Jewish Congress, and the Jewish National Fund – are gathered together today as members or affiliates of the Israel on Campus Coalition. The coalition is an overwhelmingly powerful presence on American college campuses for which there is simply no equivalent on the Palestinian or Arab side. Its self-proclaimed mission is not merely to monitor our colleges and universities. That, after all, is the commitment of Campus Watch, which was started by pro-Israel activists in 2002. It is, rather (and in its own words), to generate “a pro-active, pro-Israel agenda on campus.”
    There is, accordingly, disproportionate and unbalanced intervention on campuses across the country by a coalition of well-funded organizations, who have no time for — and even less interest in — the niceties of intellectual exchange and academic process. Insinuation, accusation, and defamation have become the weapons of first resort to respond to argument and criticism directed at Israeli policies. As far as these outside pressure groups (and their campus representatives) are concerned, the intellectual and academic price that the scholarly community pays as a result of this kind of intervention amounts to little more than collateral damage. . .


  2. pabelmont
    March 22, 2013, 4:03 pm

    They should add, “BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that ASUC keep this matter under its active consideration and take such other and further action as may, from time to time, in its considered judgment, be reasonably required for the good of the students in UCSC.”

    And bravo!

  3. amigo
    March 22, 2013, 4:04 pm

    Gee , the Zios are losing all over the planet.

    Good to see bigots like rossman benjamin having her wings clipped.

  4. Krauss
    March 22, 2013, 4:16 pm

    These people make me proud. The UC system is on the frontlines, which the Israel lobby knows, it has even dispatched several spin-offs to deal specifically with the UC system. Yudof has come under pressure from donors and bigshots to never yield an inch. What we’ll get so far is basically resolutions which should be obvious, but most of them are non-binding statements.

    I think the ever-increasing role of money in higher education cannot be overlooked. University presidents are increasingly becomming primarily chosen for their fundraising capabilities. Back in the 1970s and even the 1980s, college was much more afforable. It was easier to buck the donors.

  5. March 22, 2013, 4:23 pm

    anyone see Family Guy Sunday …
    st patricks day and they have an episode where peter goes muslim only to find that the arabs are terrorists..

    peter is irish,,,and they have an arab terrorist plot on on st patricks day…

    reinforcing that all arabs are terrorist

    • Ecru
      March 23, 2013, 6:36 am

      I gave up watching Family Guy ages ago but there’s got to be some irony in presenting an Irish-American character worrying about terrorism given NORAID’s and Clan-na-Gael’s history.

    • Citizen
      March 23, 2013, 8:28 am

      Family Guy gave us the Palestinian wake up clock: Instead of buzzing you awake, or by music, it explodes. Other stuff too over the years. Contrast the handling of Jews; they are caricatured as good at making money, being good doctors, all with major approval by Peter et al, etc. The only snark is the whiney nebbish-nerd characterizations. Lots of Jewish writers for that show. Doubt there’s even one Arab American writer on it.

  6. March 22, 2013, 11:09 pm

    Good for them. They should make it a crime too. Now, all they need to do is open up their own Anti-Defamation League. That ought to teach the ZioFascist a lesson or two in civility.

  7. IL1948
    March 23, 2013, 2:09 am

    Yes. The liberal left. Staunch supporters and defenders of our sacred First Amendment rights.

    • March 23, 2013, 11:51 am

      Yes, every bit as good as the CONservative Right. Staunch supporters and defenders of our sacred Second Amendment rights*.

      *Second Amendment Rights, the right of all Americans to buy guns and ammo at WalMart and shoot each other and themselves with.

  8. kalithea
    March 24, 2013, 4:23 am

    I saw Pam Geller on CNN today and she had fried hair, sun-baked, liver-spotted leather skin, 2 pounds of makeup on her eyes and fake lashes that could reach down and sweep the floor and she was yapping on about the latest set of ads to hit San Francisco. Oh-oh, and get this: she called Islam “supremacist”. Oy…that’s rich coming from a Zionist radical!

    So today I read that she “vigorously defended Slobodan Milosevic” who launched a genocidal campaign against Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo. Maybe his spirit was let out of hell and found a new vehicle!

    There’s a saying that goes something like this: later in life you end up with the face you deserve. Her face screams “hate”, so instead of throwing money away on so many ads; a billboard of her would get the job done.

    She and birther queen Taitz should do a reality show together: “The Real Zionist Shrews and their Wonky Conspiracy Theories”, uh, on second thought, Americans have been dumbed-down enough.

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