IRVINE -- The Jewish Federation of Orange County’s Rose Project and University of California, Irvine School of Social Ecology hosted a half-day summit recently that brought together nationally renowned leaders to address and understand the growing levels of hate and antisemitism in Orange County through the lens of sociology and criminology.

The summit, titled “Countering Hate,” convened elected leaders, policy makers and educators to explore tools and evidence-based strategies for combatting hate and discrimination in local communities. In their respective opening remarks, Erik Ludwig, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Orange County, and Howard Gillman, chancellor of UCI, underscored the summit’s role in incubating partnerships and attracting allies to diminish the footprint of hate.

“At a time when antisemitism and bigotry have been normalized, this summit sent a clear message: there’s no home for hate in Orange County,” Ludwig said. “A strong democracy depends on our ability as civic leaders to put an end to hate. We’re proud to partner with UC Irvine to help translate this bold vision into a new reality for communities from Seal Beach to San Clemente.”

“Tolerance and respect are at the center of the University of California, Irvine’s academic mandate and are core values we share with the Jewish Federation of Orange County,” Dean of UC Irvine’s School of Social Ecology Jon Gould said. “We are proud to partner with the Federation to advance this mission not just within our lecture halls but across our broader community.”

California Attorney General Rob Bonta addressed the summit and expressed his support for eliminating hate and racial bias in all California communities. “First and foremost, I want to make it clear that I am your partner, and my door is always open to you. I stand in solidarity with the Jewish community here in California, who have and will continue to be impacted by the conflict in Israel and the vitriol spreading throughout our nation.”

“Now, more than ever, we must continue to stand united in support of the Jewish community against antisemitic hate,” said Don Wagner, Chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. “The Orange County Jewish community has been an integral part of our county’s fabric over the decades, and I am grateful for all the work the Orange County Jewish Federation continues to do to support our Jewish friends.”

Speakers at “Countering Hate,” who included Dr. Amos Guiora, Dr. Amy Adamczyk, Dr. E. Alison Holman, Dr. Ariela Keysar, Dr. Jeff Kopstein, and Hannah Yu, Chief of the Hate Crimes Unit in the New York County District Attorney’s Office, shared valuable insights from a national perspective. The summit also featured a panel of Orange County leaders, including District Attorney Todd Spitzer, Supervisor Katrina Foley, Irvine Police Chief Michael Kent, Lisa Armony, Peter Levi, Rabbi Richard Steinberg and moderated by Dean Gould, who offered local perspectives.  

“Orange County has been used as a laboratory for pushing contemporary forms of antisemitism and hate over the past several decades, and countering these insidious efforts requires recognition, awareness and containment by local officials,” Chair of the Jewish Federation of Orange County’s Rose Project Jeff Margolis said, which fights destructive efforts targeting the Jewish Community in Orange County. “Through our longstanding partnership with UCI, our community is one of the first to convene a high-caliber audience and panelists with national and local expertise to actively pursue the elimination of hate, and forge models to ensure residents of Orange Country and beyond can live free of prejudice.”  

The Jewish Federation of Orange County is a nonprofit organization founded in 1965 that convenes, engages, and leads the Jewish OC community to enhance and sustain Jewish life, assist people in need, mobilize on issues of concern to the local Jewish community and strengthen the bond with Israel and Jewish people globally.

About the Rose Project: The Rose Project raises and applies funds for targeted programs and activities that advance the values, interests and security of the Jewish Community and which create a more coordinated and interconnected set of Orange County stakeholders. The Rose Project’s vision is making Orange County a safe and comfortable place for Jews to live.


LOS ANGELES -- Survivors of the Shoah joined survivors of the October 7th massacre in solidarity and commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day recently during a powerful standing room only event at the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance.

Holocaust survivor Gabrielle Keren emotionally spoke, telling the crowd, “We, Survivors of the Shoah, who never thought we would be confronting again such hate, such indifference, such silence, we are here for you our dear survivors of October 7th."

October 7th Nova music festival survivor, Danielle Sassi, who was shot in the leg, shared how her father and other family members were murdered, while she survived after sheltering for 7 hours, hiding under dead bodies.

Galia Mizrahi used the occasion to highlight the plight of the women hostages, telling the story of her female cousins and what they endured after they were first held in an apartment in Gaza, then in the tunnels, before their release in November.

Among the Holocaust Survivors in attendance, was Bill Friedman, an Auschwitz Survivor who was celebrating his 100th birthday. Over a dozen countries including Germany, Israel, United States, Ireland, Spain, France, Japan, Bahamas, Belgium, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Korea, Lithuania, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, and Austria, were represented.

At the conclusion of the event, all attendees were led by Holocaust and October 7th survivors to light candles spelling out "BRING THEM HOME" in the Museum's Mem.


SANTA CRUZ -- Citing newly released evidence that faculty at the University of California are using their official faculty positions and resources to promote anti-Israel propaganda, in violation of University policy and California law, 115 non-profit advocacy organizations called on the University of California Regents to investigate.
“We are 115 education, civil rights and religious organizations, who are deeply concerned about the relentless promotion of anti-Zionist propaganda and activism by the Critical Race and Ethnic Studies (CRES) department at UC Santa Cruz, that appears to be in flagrant violation of UC policy and California law,” wrote the groups in the letter organized by AMCHA Initiative that was sent to the Regents today.  Some of the other signatories include the AJCs of Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco; B’nai B’rith International; the Brandeis Center; California Association of Scholars; Hillel at Davis and Sacramento; Hillel of Silicon Valley; Inland and Desert Hillel; Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors; Simon Wiesenthal Center; The Daniel Pearl Foundation; and the World Jewish Congress North America.
The organizations are referencing evidence exposed last week by antisemitism watchdog, AMCHA Initiative, documenting how CRES faculty have, in their official capacities, engaged in anti-Israel political advocacy and activism. Some of the incidents unveiled include: blaming Israel for the Hamas massacre and calling Israel’s defensive measures a “genocide”; incorporating anti-Zionist propaganda, including clear falsehoods, into their teaching and teacher training programs; shutting down their department as part of a “Global General Strike” against Israel and calling for students to boycott their classes; and promoting and participating in the “Shut It Down for Palestine” protest rally of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) that illegally blocked access to the campus. Even after a clear warning from the UCSC Provost highlighting UC policies proscribing political advocacy and activism “in the classroom and other instructional spaces,” CRES faculty doubled-down on their political activities, recently announcing on their university website the launch of Faculty for Justice in Palestine (FJP), a group designed to serve as the faculty-arm of SJP.
The organizations note recent statements by government officials and UC leaders acknowledging that faculty who use their university positions and public resources to promote anti-Zionist propaganda and activism are responsible for inciting campus antisemitism, and they recognize that such behavior violates University regulations and the law, and must be stopped. In a letter to the leaders of California’s public universities and colleges, Governor Newsom remarked, “Antisemitism globally and at home has proliferated at a shocking speed and scale. And some faculty have inflamed the discourse with violent rhetoric…This is unacceptable and demands action.”
“While CRES’s substitution of political indoctrination and activism for scholarship and education ultimately hurts everyone in the academic community, we are especially concerned about its deleterious impact on the campus community’s Jewish members. Against the backdrop of an explosion of campus antisemitism since Hamas’ massacre of Israeli civilians on October 7th, CRES’s behavior gives academic legitimacy to virulent antisemitism and can’t help but contribute to a hostile environment for Jewish students, faculty and staff at UCSC,” wrote the organizations to the Regents.
Hillel International has documented a more than 700% increase in campus antisemitism since Hamas’ horrific massacre of Israeli civilians on October 7th .
Earlier this month, California’s Legislative Jewish Caucus released a statement expressing that its members were “deeply troubled by reports of UC and CSU faculty egregiously abusing their authority…to amplify antisemitic and anti-Israel propaganda,” concluding, “In light of these abuses, the UC and CSU systems must take immediate action to protect Jewish students.” And at the latest meeting of the UC Board of Regents, UC Regents Chair Leib recounted hearing from many Jewish students who “believe their rights have been violated by episodes of academic violation of the faculty code of conduct and our University policies,” emphasizing, “that is not OK."
The organizations raise particular alarm with the abuse coming out of the CRES department since it plays an integral role in bringing the department’s highly politicized version of ethnic studies to K-12 classrooms in the state. Last year CRES became the first UCSC department outside the STEM fields to include an expedited pathway for students to earn a post-BA teaching credential. In addition, CRES leadership is behind a proposal for establishing a UC ethnic studies admissions requirement, which, if approved, would force almost every high school student in the state to take an ethnic studies course whose content standards were developed, in large part, by CRES faculty.
The organizations note that considering the damning evidence collected by AMCHA as well as the Regents own findings, it is urgent they conduct “an immediate and thorough investigation of the department, with punitive action taken for all violations,” to stop this egregious abuse and protect Jewish students.
AMCHA Initiative is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to combating antisemitism at colleges and universities in the United States. The organization monitors more than 600 campuses for antisemitic activity, as defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and the U.S. government. AMCHA is not a pro-Israel advocacy organization, nor does it take a position on current or past Israeli government policies; criticism of Israel that does not meet the IHRA and U.S. government criteria is not considered antisemitic by the organization. AMCHA has recorded more than 6,000 antisemitic incidents on college campuses since 2015 which can be accessed through its Antisemitism Tracker.


The Council’s leading academic experts and advocates are tasked with promoting Holocaust and genocide education throughout California to provide young people with the tools necessary to recognize and respond to antisemitism and bigotry on campus.

"While other states rewrite history and whitewash the painful parts of our past, California is moving in the opposite direction. We're making sure that future generations avoid making the same painful mistakes, and instead forge a better way forward," Newsom said.

Why it's important: With reports of hate crimes reaching the highest levels in more than a decade in both California and the nation — including a 32.2% recent spike in anti-Jewish hate crimes in the state -- the Governor’s Council on Holocaust and Genocide serves a vital role in ensuring students are taught the lessons of genocide and the insidious nature of bigotry and hate.
"While other states rewrite history and whitewash the painful parts of our past, California is moving in the opposite direction," Gov. Newsom said. Gov. Newsom has long made the eradication of discrimination and hate a priority. Working with the Jewish Caucus and Legislature, the Newsom Administration successfully secured critical budget funding to develop curriculum resources related to Holocaust and genocide education, support anti-hate programs that provide direct support for impacted communities and victims and help nonprofit organizations that are targets of hate-motivated violence improve security at their facilities. The Governor established the Council on Holocaust and Genocide Education in 2021 and announced diverse leaders and experts in Holocaust and genocide education to serve on the Council in 2022.

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