Jewish Community Leaders Say Cal Poly Humboldt Protests Not Anti-Semitic

Woman holds sign which argues that protesting genocide is not a crime.

Woman holds sign which argues that protesting genocide is not a crime at Tuesday’s protest to free arrested demonstrators from Cal Poly Humboldt. [Photo by Ryan Hutson]

Press release from leaders in the local Jewish community who want their letter to Democratic local leaders Mike McGuire and Assemblymember Jim Wood available:

Dear Senator Mike McGuire and Assemblymember Jim Wood,

As leaders in the Jewish community in Humboldt County, we express our disappointment in your recent press release in which you referenced “antisemitic hate speech” in connection to the protests at Cal Poly Humboldt. Yes, there have been instances of antisemitism. Yes, there is important work to be done. But we do not find the protests themselves to be antisemitic and we reject it as justification for the police force used against the protesters. This inappropriate justification is all the more problematic because it was done without any consultation with Jewish community leaders.

Our Jewish community is diverse with wide ranging views. We share the distress felt by so many Cal Poly Humboldt students, faculty, and staff over the ongoing violence and tragic loss of life in the Middle East. We have varying opinions about the protests, slogans, and many related matters, nor do we share one definition of antisemitism. The Temple Beth El Antisemitism Task Force holds that the charge must be brought with discretion, carefully taking into account numerous factors in any situation. While some of us have witnessed and are concerned about statements and acts by individuals that we experience as anti-Jewish, we push back against the charge that antisemitism was endemic to the protests at Cal Poly Humboldt or that expressions of it were an appropriate justification for police action.

Senator and Assemblymember, you stated concern for the difficult experience of “Humboldt’s Jewish students and others over the past week.” Yes, the past week has been traumatic, for the entire campus community and community at large. But the problems with antisemitism at Cal Poly Humboldt are not confined to one tumultuous week. Let us explain:

In past decades very few antisemitic incidents on campus came to our attention, and some longtime Jewish faculty report encountering no antisemitism at Humboldt State University (now Cal Poly Humboldt). Jewish faculty and staff have received honors, and rabbis teaching or volunteering on campus have been treated with respect. Similarly, for decades there was very little antisemitic activity in the community at large. But things have changed in recent years. Even before the October 7 massacre, some Jewish students reported feeling marginalized by classmates and instructors.

Since October 7 there has been a surge in antisemitic crimes and incidents off campus and one hate crime on campus right after the massacre before protests began. The charged atmosphere of the protests this winter and spring has left some Jewish students, faculty, and staff feeling intimidated and afraid to openly identify with their religion or celebrate their heritage. One student was viciously harassed and has received little help.

In early February, Jewish community leaders contacted University administration requesting a meeting on urgent problems and solutions. It took three months to get a one-hour meeting. During that time the situation deteriorated, and the University failed to engage with us in any meaningful way. We were surprised to read a recent press release in which the University stated they “have been in touch with Jewish community leaders.” This is inaccurate. Now it appears that our well-intentioned elected officials have been misled by the University.

The protests loudly demonstrated a lack of cultural sensitivity and indifference to alienation of Jewish students with opposing views. The University ignored offers of help from Jewish leaders and failed to provide students, faculty and staff with resources to address antisemitism and support Jewish life on campus. This must change. At a long-awaited meeting on May 2 with the Dean of Students, it was agreed that vigorous, long term effort is needed to educate the Cal Poly Humboldt community about and respond to antisemitism. Crimes and discrimination must be taken seriously, and spurious charges of antisemitism must be scrupulously avoided.

We appreciate your service to the community and want to make sure you understand the risks of potential harm and escalation that come from a politicized use of the term antisemitism. We would like to work with you directly to address these complex problems and the nuances required for future communications.

Rabbi Naomi Steinberg, Lecturer Emerita Cal Poly Humboldt

Rabbi Bob Rottenberg

Courtney Ladika, M.D., Temple Beth El President

Caroline Connor, M.D., M.P.H., Temple Beth El Vice President

Emeritus Professor Ann Alter, Temple Beth El Board Secretary

David Boyd, Temple Beth El Antisemitism Task Force

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Moshe Doshan
Guest
Moshe Doshan
24 days ago

Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine will only make them LESS safe in the long run. The local Jewish students are already having more problems since the October 7th genocide started (when historically being Jewish wasn’t an issue at campus).

Last edited 24 days ago
Yabut
Guest
Yabut
24 days ago
Reply to  Moshe Doshan

Read more carefully. Or at least more than half way down.”Even before the October 7 massacre, some Jewish students reported feeling marginalized by classmates and instructors.”

The Real Guest
Guest
The Real Guest
24 days ago
Reply to  Yabut

That probably has something to do with the corresponding Israeli misbehaviour which was occuring with periodic frequency significantly prior to an up to Oct 7…

I knew that Trump’s shenanigans concerning Israel and Jerusalem would not end well…

Last edited 24 days ago
Yabut
Guest
Yabut
24 days ago
Reply to  The Real Guest

And there it is. Justifying blame for Israeli behavior on local Jewish students. Pretty much defines antisemitism.

The Real Guest
Guest
The Real Guest
24 days ago
Reply to  Yabut

Nope, that’s nuts, you couldn’t have gotten it more wrong, as usual…

Proper translation…

“Classmates and instructors of the (reportedly uncomfortable) Jewish students, were possibly “marginalizing” those students, prior to Oct 7, due to Israeli misbehavior, that was also, correspondingly, wait for it”…

…”before Oct 7″…

It ain’t rocket science…

Imagine that…

In other words, Jewish students possibly being hassled prior to Oct 7, possibly for pre Oct 7 Israeli bullshit…

Get the picture…???

Of course you won’t accept that, because in your mind, tellingly, there is no such thing as pre Oct 7 Israeli bullshit.

My take on your total misunderstanding of…
…………

“And there it is. Justifying blame for Israeli behavior on local Jewish students. Pretty much defines antisemitism
…………

…is…

…”hopelessly twisted, extreme victimhood mentality, delusional fiction, incarnate”…
…………,

You hear what you want to hear, but you hear not, what is actually being said to you…

What I said was damn sure not “pretty much” the definition “of antisemitism”.

That’s some straight bullshit you’re spreading.

…………………………

https://www.state.gov/defining-antisemitism/

…”However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”…

Last edited 24 days ago
Patriot in WillitsD
Member
Patriot in Willits
24 days ago
Reply to  The Real Guest

You aren’t paying attention. It doesn’t matter whether it happened before or after October 7th. What’s antisemitic is when individual Jews here are somehow held responsible for the actions of the Israeli government.

The Real Guest
Guest
The Real Guest
23 days ago

Ok…

Hold that thought for a sec…

On the other hand, what do you call it when Israelies and Jews and Americans, etc., somehow hold individual Palestinians responsible for the actions of the Palestinian government…???

Where is the derogatory label for that…???

Why isn’t there one that is being tossed about…???

That attitude is probably much more rampant than what you call antisemitism at the moment…

Do you also have a term for that…???

Do you also find that behavior to be unacceptable…???

Why are you not also calling out and labeling that reprehensible behavior, and only calling out antisemitism…???

Hypocrisy much…???

Double standard much…???

Let’s stamp out antigazanism with one boot, at the same time we are stamping out antisemitism with the other…

Sound like a plan…???

They are both equally hideous, aren’t they…???

Patriot in WillitsD
Member
Patriot in Willits
22 days ago
Reply to  The Real Guest

Most people who know anything about the current conflict blame Hamas, not the residents of Gaza for starting this.

The Real Guest
Guest
The Real Guest
22 days ago

Funny how in your mental calculation you have completely eliminated Israel as even possibly being responsible for any aspect of the current conflict…

In your eyes, there are ONLY two choices, as far as where the bLAME LIES…

It’s actually quite bizarre.

YOU figure, it’s either Hamas that is responsible for the current conflict, or it’s the residents of Gaza that are responsible for the current conflict…

What makes your reasoning delusional
and unrealistic, and therefore, null and void, is that you have inexplicably refused to even consider Israel as even possibly being the instigator ultimately responsible for the current conflict…

Ask yourself why you have segregated the decades old conflict between Israel and Palestinians into the current conflict without mentioning the previous conflict..

You see, realistically, it’s just all more of the the same old ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinians.

Only the most naive and easily fooled saps have fallen for the Israeli propaganda trope that, “Hamas started it on Oct 7″…

Anyone with even a shred of intelligence and/or the most basic critical thinking skills, would instantly see through that obvious lie, and then quickly reject such a foolish notion as the sorry ass horseshit Israeli justification for it’s continued merciless onslaught, that it quite clearly is.

Mere propaganda.

This “current” conflict damn sure didn’t start on Oct 7…

It’s the same old, same old, ongoing conflict between Israelies and Palestinians that has been sporadically continuing for 3/4ths of a Century or more.

For this conflict, one side, nor the other, at this point, can rightfully blame the other, nor can only one side be rightfully held to blame, at any point in it’s time, by any except those among the most feeble minded group, and those foolish enough to be like minded enough to go right along with them…

Just goes to show you that “Most people who know anything…”, aren’t extremely intelligent, after all…

Last edited 22 days ago
John
Guest
John
23 days ago
Reply to  The Real Guest

I think he hears what your saying ,but the credibility is shot the sources are goons like Hamas and Iran. Russia, this is where you get your info from ,that’s up to you to believe it.He knows better to listen to terrorist propaganda.IMO

Two Dogs
Guest
Two Dogs
24 days ago
Reply to  Yabut

Isn’t semitism inclusive to language used by some groups, other than Jews? Like Iran?

Angela Robinson
Member
Angela Robinson
24 days ago
Reply to  Two Dogs

Iranians speak “Persian”, Farsi. That is an Indo-European language in the same Family as English). The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afro-Asiatic language Family.)

clinton notestine
Member
clinton notestine
23 days ago
Reply to  Yabut

Did you go to McKinneyville high? Clearly can’t read.

laura cooskey
Member
23 days ago

And you can’t spell! Ha!

Country Joe
Member
24 days ago
Reply to  The Real Guest

Nearly 10,000 rockets target Israel since October 7, worse terror attack in state’s history.

clinton notestine
Member
clinton notestine
23 days ago
Reply to  Yabut

I could claim feeling marginalized too

Truth Be Told
Member
Truth Be Told
24 days ago
Reply to  Moshe Doshan

Possibly the most balanced statement on the protests so far, easily eclipsing everything from the protesters, CPH faculty, CPH Admin, the Arcata City Council or the letter orchestrated by Supervisor Arroyo.

The authors ought to be commended for having the maturity and intellect to recognize that criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic, particularly criticism directed at discriminatory and oppressive policies or the genocidal attack on Israel.

And in a very nuanced way they’ve called out Senator McGuire and Assemblymember Wood for their political pandering.

Last edited 24 days ago
Ben Round
Guest
Ben Round
24 days ago
Reply to  Truth Be Told

Yes they have! Good job on their part, and on your highlighting of that!

John
Guest
John
23 days ago
Reply to  Truth Be Told

They painted f the jews on the buildings ,If other groups protesters painted f the blacks all over the buildings ,specifically targeting black people ,it’s a hate crime plain and simple.Does not make it ok just because they are Jewish.

Kym Kemp
Admin
23 days ago
Reply to  John

I don’t remember seeing that. Could you link me to a photo?

Lone Ranger
Guest
Lone Ranger
23 days ago
Reply to  Kym Kemp

Probably not a good idea to show that picture, it wouldn’t be KOSHER , I’m sure ole Rabbi Rottenberg would agree.

John
Guest
John
23 days ago
Reply to  Kym Kemp

It’s on the video of the walk through in blue paint

Radio Head
Guest
Radio Head
23 days ago
Reply to  John

Not true! I was there and all over the surrounding area. To the contrary, there were many signs/ writings (all in chalk, as I recall) that said things like ‘Jews against genocide/ destruction!’ etc.

Pharmstheproblem
Member
Pharmstheproblem
23 days ago
Reply to  Moshe Doshan

Look up the definition of ethnic cleaning and genocide! Neither of which applied. War definitely genocide got millions to go if that’s the case.

lol
Guest
lol
23 days ago
Reply to  Moshe Doshan

There’s nothing even remotely close to an ethnic cleansing going on. Israel has an extremely advanced military. If they wanted to they could have killed every Palestinian many decades ago.

Ricky Bennis
Guest
Ricky Bennis
21 days ago
Reply to  lol

And yet… 6-8 hrs after drones dropped improvised explosives on the automated machine gun towers along the fence, and 6 hrs after the powered para sails took a lazy flight over the fence, and 6 hrs after Hamas fighters struggled to push their ancient vapor locked Chinese motorbikes through breaches in the fence and towards the music festival, where was this extremely advanced military?

Mendo Known 50 years
Guest
Mendo Known 50 years
24 days ago

Some people seem to think I dislike Jews and that’s completely false

I dislike very small yet powerful groups of Jewish elites that Have managed to take control of our government

These people also don’t work at the interest of the average jew but many jews are too indoctrinated to see it

Many are wakihg up though

John
Guest
John
23 days ago

That powerful group of jews you dislike is the only thing making sure that Jewish civilians survive this onslaught from the hordes of invaders from all directions.

Grin Reaper
Guest
Grin Reaper
23 days ago

That is a 100%, no holds barred, anti-semitic, often-repeated trope. A small number of Jews are in in control? Ha! That would be hysterical if it wasn’t repeated so often by the ignorant. I’m sure Soros and the Rothchilds will be on the list. Again, Ha! Take a look at the Fortune 500 and count the companies run by Jewish people. Count the world leaders who are Jewish–we’ve never had one here. Count the bank presidents around the world who are Jewish. Now count the ones who claim to be Christian or other faiths. This is empirical evidence, not anti-semitic hogwash as you are dishing out.

North westCertain license plate out of thousands c
Guest
North westCertain license plate out of thousands c
24 days ago

Even the Israelis are protesting against Netanyahu‘s government! He’s as full of hate an ambition!
Netanyahu must go!

The Real Guest
Guest
The Real Guest
24 days ago

What an honorable letter.

These individuals have my admiration and utmost respect.

Thank you for speaking up so eloquently.

A meeting requested in early February was not granted until May 2nd, after the protests had manifested and been subsequently forcefully dispersed resulting in injuries and at great cost…???

That’s completely unacceptable and reprehensible.

It sounds like it is Cal Poly Humboldt is the one that is giving the Jewish Community and it’s leaders improper consideration and disrespectful treatment by their significantly delayed and inadequate response..

How hypocritical of the Cal Poly Humboldt Administration to subsequently deny their own obvious disrespectful”antisemitism” and then cowardly project and deflect it away from themselves, and instead, direct it onto the student protesters, who CPH Administration are also supposed to properly represent…

Meanwhile, Cal Poly Humboldt Administration panders to our political representatives, in a pathetic attempt to save face, who in turn, as if on cue, pander reflexively up the chain to Biden himself, who is the Panderer in Chief, Obedient to Netanyahu, not the American people…

Biden discourages and advises against an ICC arrest warrant for Netanyahu, yet shamefully and shamelessly advocates
for the persecution, arrest, and persecution of thousands of student protesters, because he is afraid it will cost him his reelection.

Our feckless leaders are behaving like losers…

Where does the buck stop…???

I would recommend paying close attention to the wisdom of what our community’s Jewish leadership has said and has to say, with no further delays.

I consider such wisdom, as it is spoken in this letter to the editor, to be indicative and representative of the Jewish people that for the lack of better term, are the real McCoys…

Last edited 24 days ago
Thatguyinarcata
Guest
Thatguyinarcata
24 days ago

The university administration is an utter mess. This is the most obvious outcome of this latest kerfuffle.

I like stars
Guest
I like stars
24 days ago

There was certainly some hateful graffiti.

Giant Squirrel
Guest
Giant Squirrel
24 days ago
Reply to  I like stars

Didn’t renaming Siemans to Intifada explicitly support terrorist destruction of Israel?

D'Tucker Jebs
Member
24 days ago
Reply to  Giant Squirrel

No.
Intifada (Arabic: انتفاضة intifāḍah) is an Arabic word for a rebellion or uprising, or a resistance movement. It can be used to refer to an uprising against oppression.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intifada#cite_note-Meinel-1

Two Dogs
Guest
Two Dogs
24 days ago
Reply to  D'Tucker Jebs

Just as often used as a Trojan Horse for multiple Jihads having nothing to do with oppression.

John
Guest
John
23 days ago
Reply to  D'Tucker Jebs

What about f,the Jews what does that represent in Arabic

Rayburn
Guest
Rayburn
24 days ago

To the Rabbis and temple leadership- I am so grateful to you all for this very important letter to our community. I was pained and frankly surprised by the press release from Senator McGuire and Assemblyman Wood, both leaders I respect for their service to our region. I don’t know if they’ve been persuaded by the pervasive, insistent and dishonest messaging of CPH admin, or if they just haven’t paid close enough attention to what has unfolded up here. The message here from our temple to our local elected officials and to our community is powerful, truthful, enlightening and very important.

Ben Round
Guest
Ben Round
24 days ago

This is an excellent letter! These Rabbis and Jewish leaders have the gravitas to be clear, and rather without reproach. (Note how few comments there are to this article, compared to the other recent ones on the CPH protests, etc. Why? This letter is unassailable).
Much respect to the authors for their wisdom and leadership in our community!
I hope that Wood and McGuire are truly listening, rather than just looking out for their campaign bank accounts!

Last edited 24 days ago
Maybe,maybe not
Guest
Maybe,maybe not
24 days ago

If you read this week’s Mad River Union, there are a few responses from Jewish students and community members relating their mostly negative experiences including, from some, a lack of concern on campus at Cal Poly.

Last edited 24 days ago
Carol
Guest
Carol
23 days ago

Thank you for this letter. Your clarity and perspective is greatly appreciated.

Alf
Guest
Alf
23 days ago

To me it doesn’t matter. Whether antisemitism was or was not involved doesn’t change anything in my opinion. In the BLM riots, the Rodney King riots, the CPH and other university riots and any other riots, the “reason” or “purpose” doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what side of any argument you are on if you use your free speech right and ONLY your free speech right. Unfortunately, vandalism, violence, intimidation, and many other behaviors ARE NOT free speech. If CPH and other universities had actually planned in advance for these crimes and had immediately, upon the first incident of lawlessness taken charge and dispursed those taking part in acts of terrorism, these pitiful punks would actually learn bad conduct won’t be tolerated, whether student, staff or community member. That’s the point. If an incident happens, swift intervention must happen. Because NO action happened, it just emboldened these freaks to think they will get away with it each and every time their panties get in a bunch. At CPH and universities across this country, it was a 100% failure.

Radio Head
Guest
Radio Head
23 days ago
Reply to  Alf

What is your definition of “riot”???

Alf
Guest
Alf
23 days ago
Reply to  Radio Head

Any “protest” act that causes vandalism or any kind of violence is a riot. The FBI definition of terrorism includes the CPH protest behavior. Any time any level of force is used it is terrorism and not protest.

fred krissman
Guest
fred krissman
23 days ago
Reply to  Alf

So you think KingGeorge was right to treat colonials dumping tea into BostonHarbor as criminals? Some American you are…

jimimmel
Guest
jimimmel
23 days ago

just more evidence that an education from humbolt is not worth much. More focus on issues than education.

Karl Verick
Guest
Karl Verick
23 days ago

In Israel, and especially the West Bank, student demonstrations would be met with brutal arrests, and or shootings. Threats violence and racist insults by Israeli and Israeli supporters directed at war protesters is not surprising, nor is their lack of coverage in most media. This is the group that committed dangerous acts of violence on UCLA students. It would be helpful if Humboldt County Jewish leaders more explicitly denounced that violence. Peace, Salam Shalom

Yabut
Guest
Yabut
23 days ago
Reply to  Karl Verick

You think that hate is only acted on by Israel and Israel supporters? No one can be that disingenuous.

Damon libolt
Guest
Damon libolt
22 days ago

You robots need to stop trusting governments, whether it’s us government, hamas or Israel, they’re all farming their citizens then using them as meat shields.

El Arseneau
Guest
El Arseneau
22 days ago

There are four Jewish congregations in Humboldt. This letter only represents one of them. And members of the other local Jewish groups are a bit p-o’d about this letter, being presented as the opinion of the entire Humboldt Jewish community.

There is a lively debate in Humboldt County Jewish Community FB group about this statement. Most feel like Rabbi Naomi stepped out of line. That at best the statement originated from Temple Beth El and does not represent the other three local Jewish groups. Further, Rabbí Eliyahu Cowen, who (either officially or unofficially) is the Cal Poly Humboldt students Rabbi was never consulted.

Kicking Bull
Guest
Kicking Bull
21 days ago

All war is intentional and by design; spurred with false flags, and endless is the new model. It just makes cents.

Shalom Aleichem = Salam Alaikum = Shalom Aleichem = Salam Alaikum =

Peace Be Unto You

humgirl1
Member
humgirl1
20 days ago

You know it probably has everything to do with the sestimatic genocide of the palestinan Arabic people since 1917. The students who have family back home are in a very deep mourning an have been since forever . A props to those who are defending. Of course trespassing is not a good thing so pay your dues to society and mourn in peace. Takes a couple mins to read the history. Pro Palestinian American .🇺🇸