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UC to discuss adopting State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism

By Shreya Maskara

May 22, 2015 1:22 a.m.

University of California President Janet Napolitano said Thursday that the UC should adopt the U.S. Department of State’s definition of anti-Semitism, which includes denying Israel’s right to exist.

Napolitano, who said she supports the definition in an interview, added that the regents must vote to adopt the definition before it becomes UC policy.

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a UC Santa Cruz faculty member and co-founder of the AMCHA Initiative, an organization dedicated to combating anti-Semitism at higher education institutions, said she thinks the UC’s adoption of the definition will help students better understand the issue.

Safwan Ibrahim, a fourth-year comparative literature student and vice president of Students for Justice in Palestine, said the organization condemns all forms of anti-Semitism but doesn’t agree with parts of the state’s definition.

“(The definition) equates political criticisms of the Israeli government with anti-Semitic hate speech,” Ibrahim said. “It’s a violation of the right to free speech.”

Rossman-Benjamin said she doesn’t believe the adoption of the definition is a violation of the First Amendment.

“It is a general understanding,” she said. “Just like people know what is sexist and racist behavior, they will know what anti-Semitic behavior really is.”

Napolitano said that the regents will be discussing whether to adopt the definition at their upcoming meeting in July.

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Shreya Maskara | Assistant news editor
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