April 17 marked the beginning of a Jewish day of remembrance called Yom HaShoah, a two-day period where Jewish people across the world mourn the atrocities committed during World War II. On the same day Yom HaShoah commenced, UC Berkeley students walked onto campus and were faced with a man holding a sign that likened 21st-century Jewish people to Nazis.
As a sign showing a swastika equaling the Star of David was proudly brandished at the entrance of campus, Jewish students were quick to acknowledge that this was not an isolated incident. Just as spring semester kicked off in January, a red marker was used to vandalize a door of the Golden Bear Cafe. In four words, the message to Jewish students was loud and clear: “No Jew Go Away.”
While 2023 has been rife with acts of antisemitism on campus, this hatred has always been present. Just last semester, trucks with images of Adolf Hitler stationed themselves in front of Berkeley Hillel shortly after news broke that Zionist speakers were no longer welcome at Berkeley Law.
These examples serve as a constant reminder to Jewish students of their painful history, which continues to cause undue hurt, stress, trauma and an overall lack of acceptance.
It is important to note that campus administration has taken palpable steps to combating antisemitism on campus, such as having an active Chancellor’s Committee on Jewish Student Life and Campus Climate, which is one of a kind in the United States, according to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof — so much so that the Anti-Defamation League has commended UC Berkeley and its efforts to combat the ever-growing tide of antisemitism.
While these steps have shown support for Jewish students, it is clear that antisemitism on campus remains. Despite the steps that have been taken, they ultimately are inadequate to effectively combat negative sentiments against Jewish students. Campus should continue to build on funding and improving supportive resources for Jewish students, as well as developing courses or programs dedicated to educating students on what antisemitism can take form as and how to actively prevent it on campus.
We recognize potential reasons behind the lack of support Jewish students face. It is no secret that the Jewish community is often unwillingly entangled in the conflict between the nations of Israel and Palestine, which frequently leads to a distinct tiptoeing around the topic of antisemitism. This connection itself is antisemitic; it wrongly implicates Jewish individuals in a geopolitical conflict that exists beyond the bounds of faith, tradition and nationality.
This conflation brings severe harm, and advocates for greater separation between an individual identity and national government.
We urge the administration and student body to continue acknowledging this conflation and vocalize its existence so that antisemitism veiled as dialogue surrounding an international crisis is called out in its entirety.
A clear message is always broadcasted to the world on Yom HaShoah: “Never Forget.” Hate only becomes more prevalent when people do not identify it as hate. It is time to show Jewish students respect by living with the intention of never forgetting such hate exists.