Ugly manifesto

Anti-Defamation League charted 57 percent rise in anti-Semitic incidents last year, which just happened to coincide with Trump’s first year in office

This is an extended version of a story that appears in the October 25, 2018, issue.

Jewish groups at UC Davis are not satisfied with the administration’s response to anti-Semitic fliers discovered on campus earlier this month.

Noticed on October 8, the fliers depicted U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, George Soros and other prominent Jewish figures with the Star of David on their foreheads while seemingly blaming Jewish people for fabricating sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The fliers credited the Daily Stormer, a white supremacist website that has resurfaced on the dark web since getting banned by Google and Go Daddy.

Shortly after news of the fliers spread, Chancellor Gary May released a statement denouncing their content and calling for compassion. But May didn’t mention the Jewish community outright, which drew a letter from more than a dozen Jewish groups on campus.

“We are frustrated that hate incidents like these are continuously being swept under the rug, and that the community is choosing to look the other way,” the joint statement read. “[T]he campus’ response to this incident is insufficient and does not offer specific support for Jewish students.”

May addressed the Jewish community directly in a letter two days later. The university is also planning a town hall and meetings with the Anti-Defamation League, but only after specific requests from the campus Jewish community.

Anti-Semitism on UC Davis’ campus is nothing new. In 2016, anti-Semitic fliers were printed on campus computers asking “white men” if they were tired of Jewish people destroying the United States through immigration and degeneracy. In two separate 2015 incidents, swastikas were painted on a Jewish fraternity house and carved into cars in a university parking lot.

Since January 2015, there’ve been 21 anti-Semitic or incidents on the university’s campus, according to AMCHA Initiative, a nonprofit tracking anti-Semitism in universities. Sacramento State experienced just three incidents over the same period.

AMCHA says it sees a correlation between anti-Jewish hostility on campus and the boycott, divest, sanction movement aimed at penalizing the Israel government’s occupation of the West Bank. AMCHA identified 38 faculty members who have advocated boycotting Israel in support of Palestinian rights. AMCHA director Tammi Rossman-Benjamin says some students might be taking that sentiment too far.

“I don’t think any professors or administrators are anti-Semitic,” Rossman-Benjamin told SN&R. “But when political views make it into the classroom and campus events, some students take those views to the extreme.”

That theory overlooks another possible culprit, however. The Anti-Defamation League reported a 57 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2017, the largest single-year increase since the organization began tracking such incidents in 1979. Kathryn Olmsted, a conspiracy theory historian and professor at UC Davis, says recent upticks in anti-Semitic rhetoric might stem from the oval office.

“It seems that President Trump’s election has emboldened many different hate groups,” Olmsted said. “They now think they can say things that used to be completely unacceptable in American society.”