Anti-Semitism fails to gain independent category on bias report



Yona Lunger, who is a part of his neighborhood watch group, was patrolling an area in Northeast Miami-Dade early Monday, July 28, 2014 when he found anti-semitic painting on the Tora V'Emunah temple at 1:30am in Miami, Fla.

By Cori Lippert , Staff Writer

A petition to recognize anti-Semitism as an independent category on the Office of Student Conflict Resolution bias report was unable to make the student referendum ballot.

The bias report does not allow students to mark anti-Semitism under a certain category, Moshe Gross, senior in LAS and one of the students behind the petition, said. Since Judaism is considered both a religion and an ethnicity, it does not fit under any certain category, which means it is considered as unknown to the University.

“Wanting to protect students against anti-Semitic attacks or anti-Semitism in general on campus is really important, but I think that this particular definition is really dangerous because it includes any negative targeting or negative critique of the Jewish state or the Israeli state,” Samantha Brotman, membership manager at Jewish Voice for Peace, said.

Many Jewish students on campus will be recorded as anti-Semitic under this definition because there are many Jewish students on campus who have legitimate criticisms of Israel. This could limit the academic freedom of students on campus, Brotman said.

Gross said the University does not track exactly how many incidents involving anti-Semitism have happened, if they are significant or if we need to do something about it.

He said one incident that stuck out to him is the vandalization of the Chabad Menorah. He said the Menorah has been vandalized multiple times, which led to the Illini Chabad Center for Jewish Life getting a new one.

“I am hoping that it’s not that common and you don’t have those things that often, but at the end of the day we don’t necessarily know that because we haven’t really been tracking that,” Gross said.

This petition is not really about Israel entirely, Gross said. It is more about the overarching theme of anti-Semitism.

According to the Bias Assessment and Response Team website, BART will gather any additional information on the report, review it and determine what steps should be taken. They will then design a response plan based on the information gathered.

The BART team may respond to reported incidents with an educational conversation, mediation, education referrals, resolution agreements or refer it to other offices or programs. Any report that violates the student code will be sent to the Student Discipline System.

If there were other specific categories on the bias report list, such as anti-black racism, islamophobia, homophobia and transphobia, then it is okay to say anti-Semitism is a missing part of the list, Brotman said.

“(However), define it as what anti-Semitism is – discrimination against or mistreatment of Jews for being Jewish. Spreading conspiracy theories about Jews controlling the world, Jews controlling the media, Jews controlling the finances of the banks of the world, that is anti-Semitic,” Brotman said. “Israel is a state, not a religion, it should be held accountable as a state, not a religion.”

Brotman said the report itself may need to be reworked if anti-Semitic acts can not be reported as religious discrimination.

This petition failed to get enough signatures due to a number of reasons, Gross said. They also attempted to go through the Illinois Student Government, but was unable to get it added to the meeting schedule in time.

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