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Allahu Akbar at UC Davis: Free Speech or anti-Semitic Abuse ?


Editorial Note

Not since the McCarthy period has the issue of free speech on American campuses became so controversial.   While the anti-Communist passions of the Cold War have died down, the BDS movement has created a most daunting challenge to the issue of free speech.   

The article below describes the scene in aftermath of a vote in favor of BDS at the University California Davis.

The Davis campus has been known as a stronghold of pro-Palestinian activism for some time now, but the most recent episode has reached a new height.  Pro-Palestinian activists chanted Allahu Akbar and made anti-Israeli comments that could be construed as anti-Semitic. In a separate incident, swastikas were painted on a Jewish fraternity house close to campus.

University Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi stated that last week’s BDS vote “does not reflect the position of U.C. Davis or the University of California system.” But the swastika event triggered an immediate and strong reaction from the authorities.  Katehi denounced it in the strongest possible terms calling the behavior “repugnant and a gross violation of the values our university holds dear.” She added, “nothing rivals a swastika as a more potent or offensive symbol of hatred and violence toward our Jewish community members.” 

The Allahu Akbar case is more complex, however. The Davis administration issued its stock reaction. The spokesman for the university stated: “Statements by individuals do not reflect a position of the university or the university community as a whole … U.C. Davis is built on a foundation of tolerance and inclusion, and we have an obligation to treat each other with respect and dignity even when we disagree.”  

Arguably, the administration tried to hedge its bets by reminding everyone that discourse on campus should be tolerant of all views, but stopped short of denouncing the behavior at the BDS meeting as anti-Semitic or a hate crime.  Even the subsequent tweets of some activists to the effect that “Israel will fall” and that “sharia law took over the campus” do not clarify the picture. To recall, during the Vietnam War, students took over entire campuses and declared them to be the “Republic of Vietnam” or some other socialist paradise.

The UC Davis case attracted attention of the media.  It remains to be seen if legal remedies would be used to clarify the Allahu Akbar case. 


University of California students chant ‘Allahu Akbar’ after anti-Israel vote

Activists waving Palestinian flags reportedly heckled Jewish students at the University of California, Davis and chanted "Allahu Akbar" during a student government vote last week to call on the school to boycott Israel. (Azka Fayyaz via Washington Free Beacon) 

By Jessica Chasmar - The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Activists waving Palestinian flags reportedly heckled Jewish students at the University of California, Davis, and chanted “Allahu Akbar” during a student government vote last week to call on the school to boycott Israel.

The student government resolution passed 8-2 Thursday and formally recommends the university divest from companies who do business with Israel, such as American companies Caterpillar Inc., G4S PLC, Veolia Environment and Raytheon.

Following the vote, a large group of activists shouted “Allahu Akhbar,” meaning “Allah is [the] greatest,” in unison as pro-Israel students filed out of the U.C. Davis meeting room, according to video provided by a pro-Israel student, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

Azka Fayyaz, a member of the U.C. Davis student senate, gleefully posted on Facebook after the vote that “Israel will fall insha’Allah.”

“Hamas & Sharia law have taken over UC Davis,” she boasted alongside a photo taken at the meeting.

One day after the vote, a fraternity house belonging to the Jewish AEPi organization was defaced with two spray-painted swastikas, which police are reportedly investigating as a hate crime. 

A university spokesman said the student affairs office and campus police have met with the fraternity to offer support and advice.

When asked about the student senator’s comments, the spokesman said, “Statements by individuals do not reflect a position of the university or the university community as a whole … U.C. Davis is built on a foundation of tolerance and inclusion, and we have an obligation to treat each other with respect and dignity even when we disagree,” the Free Beacon reported.

School Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi also said in a statement that last week’s vote “does not reflect the position of U.C. Davis or the University of California system.”

Still, Noah Pollak, executive director of the Emergency Committee for Israel, says the events last week at the university highlight the danger posed to campuses by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

“BDS activism, anti-Semitism, swastikas, celebration of terror—these things are found together,” he told the Free Beacon. “The U.C. Davis administration should be deeply alarmed that a member of the student senate has openly endorsed Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization whose charter calls for the murder of Jews worldwide.”


Jessica Chasmar is a continuous news writer for The Washington Times, covering topics on culture and politics. Originally from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Jessica graduated from the University of Florida where she received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in mass communication.



University of California - Davis student senate votes to divest from corporatations supporting Israeli human rights violations

The International Solidarity Movement Support Group in Northern California congratulates the students of the University of California at Davis for their principled stand against Israeli human rights violations.  When the universities become as principled as their students these violations will end.  Below is the announcement.



On the night of January 29, 2015, a historic vote in support of global justice  and racial equality was taken by students at UC Davis as ASUCD passed a divestment resolution (Senate Resolution #9) with a two-third majority vote. The resolution called for the university to divest from American corporations (Caterpillar, Veolia, G4S and Raytheon) that are complicit in the ongoing human rights violations in Palestine, stating that:


“The investment portfolio of the University of California’s endowment and pension funds includes holdings in these corporations, making the University of California a complicit third party in the aforementioned human rights violations against the Palestinian people;”

This vote was the outcome of a democratic process and a grassroots student movement that was built over three years. UC Davis Senators, directly elected by and representative of the students of UC Davis, showed overwhelming support for the resolution due to its underlying anti-racist, anti-war message that is at the core of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS). This divestment resolution is part of the global BDS movement that calls for the end of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian people, equal rights for all palestinian citizens of Israel, and recognition of Palestinian refugees’ right to return as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.


Given that UC Davis has previously voted to divest from Apartheid South Africa, students on campus and across the US were inspired to divest from Israeli apartheid. Many were moved to do so after the massacre committed by Israel against the encaged Palestinians under siege in Gaza last summer that also destroyed Palestinian schools and universities. Israel's occupation, perpetual wars and alleged war crimes have created a growing sense of urgency to respond to the call from Palestinian civil society IN 2005 to divest from companies that are complicit in the displacement, dispossession, and destruction of Palestinian lives.


Community members from various ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds, such as the Black Student Union (BSU) and Chicana/o Student Movement (M.E.Ch.A.), stood in solidarity with divestment because they saw the struggle of the Palestinians as similar to their own. Many are aware that the police who are targeting black lives in cities such as Ferguson or Oakland are trained by Israeli police, and that the surveillance technology used on the US-Mexico border is also used in the Israeli apartheid wall. 


The passage of this divestment resolution makes Davis the seventh UC Campus to have voted to divest from Israel, following UC Berkeley, UC Los Angeles, UC San Diego, UCIrvine, UC Santa Cruz, and UC Riverside. We are part of the new student movement of the twenty-first century, a diverse anti-racist movement that has grown, despite the backlash, intimidation, and threats that it has encountered.


Many non-Palestinian students at UC Davis supported SR#9 and urged the senate table to be on the right side of history. "I'm sick of the state of Israel and Jewish organizations that have a monopoly over the Jewish voice," expressed a frustrated Jewish student. After listening to the arguments and facts presented before them, senators overwhelmingly voted in favor of the SR#9. The final vote was: 8-2-2. (8 Yes, 2 No, 2 Abstain).


We are proud of the senate and of our campus for finally taking the right decision for justice, racial equality, and human rights for all, including the Palestinian people. We know that our victory might trouble those in the powerful status quo but it cannot be taken from us, because it reflects our commitment to speak the truth in the jaws of censorship, to unite in the face of attempts to divide us, and to continue to demand justice for those wanting to live with justice and dignity in Palestine, and around the world. 

In Solidarity,

Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Davis.

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