An open letter to the administration and student government of UCDavis

Although the recent UC Davis divestment resolution against Israel ended in a deadlock, I suppose there is still some silver lining: at least half the people casting votes can be considered clear-headed.  But as for the others, please tell me — what exactly were you thinking?

imagesDid you buy into former President Jimmy Carter’s accusation condemning Israel as an apartheid state?  If so, how do you explain Israeli Arabs having a higher standard of living than Arabs in Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, or Iraq?  or a higher literacy rate?  or higher life expectancy?  Does it mean nothing to you that Israel is the only democracy in the Mideast?  that only in Israel women have equal rights and equal education?  that Palestinians who work for Israeli companies like Sodastream oppose the boycott you advocate to save them from oppression?

If you are outraged by the unequal treatment of Israeli Arabs, how do you explain that Israel has Arab members of Parliament proportional to its Arab citizenry?  How is it symptomatic of apartheid that Israel has or has had an Arab deputy Prime Minister, an Arab Supreme Court justice, an Arab national soccer team captain, and an Arab Miss Israel?

Where is your outrage toward apartheid in Arab countries that oppress their Jewish minorities?  Or are there too few Jews for you to apply the term apartheid in Arab countries that are essentially Judenrein?  In case the flight of oppressed Jews from Arab countries is news to you, look at the decline in Jewish populations from 1948 until today:

Algeria:           140,000 to <100
Egypt:             80,000 to <100
Iraq:                 150,000 to 40
Lebanon:         30,000 to 30
Libya:              30,000 to 0
Morocco:         500,000 to 700
Syria:               30,000 to <100
Yemen:            55,000 to <200

You denounce the “illegal occupation” of captured territories.  Why are you not equally concerned about the Jewish-owned land appropriated by Arab governments — all 38,625 square miles of it (compared to Israel’s total area of 7,992 square miles)?  Why do you continue to condemn Israel as intransigent when it was the Palestinian Authority that rejected Ehud Barak’s offer — after the Camp David Accords of 2000 — to return an equivalent amount of territory to that captured in the defensive 1967 war?  And by what twisted rationalization do you fault Israel for not sitting down to negotiate with Arab leaders who continue to call for Israel’s destruction and deny its right to exist?

As for those of you who abstained:  were you lacking clarity or courage?

Why are you not railing against the far more egregious human rights violations in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, and myriad other nations all over the globe?  Even if political correctness is the explanation, please explain why quantifiable Arab oppression is accepted while fabricated Israeli “oppression” is not.

But if the real reason, as seems likely, is old-fashioned anti-Semitism, then let’s trade in that antiseptic euphemism and call your worldview what it really is:  Jew-hatred, plain and simple.

UC Davis was once an institution to be proud of.  For the first time in thirty years, I am ashamed of my alma mater.

Rabbi Yonason (Jonathan) Goldson
Class of 1983

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  1. #1 by torahideals on May 19, 2014 - 10:43 am

    The UC Davis administration responds:

    Dear Rabbi Goldson,

    Thank you for your email of May 11 regarding the ASUCD’s vote on Resolution 20. Please accept this response on behalf of the UC Davis administration.

    On May 7, the night before the vote on Resolution 20, I spent the evening with the students at the Davis Hillel House and heard many of the same comments and questions that you make below. I recognize that this is a deeply sensitive topic for many in our campus community, including our alumni. Prior to the debate by the student government on May 8, those students in attendance at the debate were reminded by the administration of the UC Davis Principles of Community. We affirmed their constitutional right to freedom of expression, but also affirm our campus commitment to the highest standards of civility and decency toward all.

    As you correctly note below, this was a resolution of the student government urging the UC Board of Regents to divest from three companies that do business with Israel, and not an action by UC Davis. I have forwarded your email onto the student government for them to respond if they choose. I want you to also know that the investment policy for the University of California system, including UC Davis, is set by the UC Board of Regents. The Board and Office of the President have previously outlined the conditions by which divestment would be considered by the Board ((, and those conditions have not been met and any divestment resolution will not be brought before the Board.

    I understand your disappointment in UC Davis, but I want you to know that your alma mater, more so than ever before, is home to a community of faculty, researchers and students from everywhere in the world, including an outstanding community of Jewish students, pro-Israeli students, and students who see Israel as their home.

    Thank you again for your email.

    Adela de la Torre

  2. #2 by torahideals on May 19, 2014 - 10:45 am

    My reply:

    Dear Ms. de la Torre:

    Thank you for your timely response to my letter. I appreciate your assurance that UC Davis is committed to civility and freedom of expression, but I am not sure that you have addressed the more fundamental point of my letter.

    Yes, the issue is sensitive to many people, and every compassionate person should empathize with the plight of those people who identify themselves as Palestinians. However, to reflexively blame Israel for its minimal culpability while completely ignoring the exploitation of refugees by their own people only serves to perpetuate and expand injustice and human suffering. That eight out of 13 student leaders refused to recognize or acknowledge such overwhelming historical, political, and sociological evidence can only be interpreted as a gross failure of your educational institution.

    In my day, UC Davis was still largely uncorrupted by the extremist ideologies of the Bay Area. Sadly, that seems no longer to be true. And as long as utopian superficiality and political correctness trump intellectual and moral integrity, the closing of the collegiate mind on American campuses will only get worse.


    Yonason Goldson

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