I’ve been living in Santa Cruz for nearly 25 years, and have been an active member of the Jewish community for the entire time. Antisemitism has always been present, but it has recently become much more widespread.

If you're a Jewish student considering enrolling at UC Santa Cruz or a Jewish faculty member considering a position at UC Santa Cruz, I'd strongly recommend against it. Put simply, the climate is toxic for Jews, particularly those who are even minimally observant. If you're identifiably Jewish and celebrate Jewish holidays, you'll be a target on campus.

For details, read on.


In the last week of February, there were three serious antisemitic incidents in California, two of which took place on University of California campuses. I wrote the following letter to the Chancellor and EVC (Executive Vice Chancellor) of UC Santa Cruz, asking them to issue a statement regarding antisemitism.

Chancellor Larive and EVC Kletzer:

Three years ago, you issued a formal statement against anti-Asian hate based on a shooting in Atlanta. The statement was based on a single event across the country and, as you noted in the release, some reports indicate the people were targeted for violence based on their perceived race and gender. It wasn’t definite, but the response was rapid.

In just the past week, California has seen three major incidents of antisemitic violence, two on University of California campuses.

As leaders of UC Santa Cruz, you must condemn this violence unequivocally and specifically. This is anti-Jewish hatred and violence IN CALIFORNIA. It affects members of the Jewish community on campus as well as others in the UCSC community. Many on campus are fearful for their own safety as well as those of their relatives and friends. This includes me: my son attends UCSB and is Jewishly active. Such violence can, and will, spread to UC Santa Cruz if you do not take a definitive stand now.

Your condemnation must be focused on antisemitism and violence against Jews. If you want to condemn Islamophobia or other forms of hatred, I encourage you to do so in a separate statement, but this statement must be entirely about antisemitism. Mentioning other forms of hatred in a statement is similar to saying All Lives Matter in response to George Floyd’s death; we all know such a statement would be considered unacceptable.

The Jewish community in California as a whole and UCSC specifically is facing violent threats on campus and off. It is your duty as campus leaders to publicly support the Jewish community, condemn the violence we have seen over the past week, and remind the campus community that antisemitism is unacceptable.

I received the following response from Chancellor Larive and EVC Kletzer:

The violence and antisemitic conduct that occurred this past week at UCB and UCSB is deserving of condemnation. We stand with the California Jewish community, and all Jewish communities, in solidarity in combating antisemitism. We also stand with our colleagues at UCB and UCSB in their statements of support for community values. 

We will not be issuing a statement about these events. Our resistance to hate of all kinds is resolute and universal. Our focus now is on the leadership, programs and supports we can bring to our campus to combat hate, bias, and bigotry.

We are grateful to you for your support of our Jewish community.

Chancellor Larive and EVC Kletzer have issued statements on several incidents of similar types, even in distant locations. For example, as I noted in my initial email, they issued a formal statement condemning anti-Asian racism and violence in reaction to a shooting in Atlanta that killed several Asian-Americans. They also issued a formal statement about the trial of the murderers of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia. No formal statement is listed on the news.ucsc.edu site regarding the hostage standoff at a synagogue in January 2022.

The UCSC formal statement about the Israel-Hamas conflict states "We have watched with deep sadness the unfolding violence in Israel and Gaza, and we are gravely concerned at the escalating conflict across the region. Our hearts go out to everyone in harm’s way and all who have been affected. Along with University of California Board of Regents Chair Richard Leib and UC President Michael V. Drake, we condemn this act of terrorism." However, while the University of California statement clearly condemns "the horrific attack on Israel", the UCSC statement just condemns "this act of terrorism", which apparently refers to both sides.

Since this letter was sent in mid-March, sadly, my prediction has come to pass: such violence has spread to UC Santa Cruz. While a strong condemnation in mid-March might not have prevented the antisemitic actions in May, it would have provided the administration with the ability to take action to defend the campus's Jewish population.

However, it's not just the leadership that displays, at best, indifference to antisemitism, while crusading against other forms of hatred. Jewish students and groups on campus have been attacked, and antisemitic language in student government meetings is, sadly, all too common.


The UCSC campus has long had a lot of antisemitism. I've personally seen students in student government meetings saying things like "gas the Jews" and worse.

I've also been the subject of multiple hate crimes: my office door has been vandalized twice, as someone ripped down a poster supporting Jewish students (not Israel!) along with a poster saying "I Stand With Israel". The UCSC Police, to whom I reported it, are considering it a hate crime. A few weeks later, someone defaced a pro-Jewish (again, not Israel) with "Free Palestine". These crimes show the insidiousness of antisemitism on campus: someone feels the need to deface signs on a professor's door.

In early May, anti-Israel protesters (styling themselves "pro-Palestinian") built an encampment in the center of campus, similar to those at Columbia and elsewhere. A few days later, they issued demands to the administration.


These demands include "[c]ut ties UC wide with all zionist [note lower case] institutions. [...] Cut ties with ... Hillel International". Hillel is a Jewish student group. Yes, it's pro-Israel, but nobody has ever been turned away because they are anti-Zionist.

The protesters have chanted anti-Jewish slogans expressing a desire for Jewish genocide ("from the river to the sea", "globalize the intifada"), and have threatened Jews on campus. Notably, the Hillel director has advised Jewish community members to avoid campus.

The administration has done nothing to ameliorate the situation.


Many UCSC faculty are strongly antisemitic, as evidenced by the size of the Faculty for Justice in Palestine chapter and the behavior of departments such as Critical Race and Ethnic Studies (CRES) and Feminist Studies. CRES, in particular, praised the October 7th attack, blaming Israel and justifying the rape and torture of civilians as "resistance". This was done on the official CRES web site; it was later taken down. CRES also passed faculty resolutions criticizing Israel's reactions without mentioning anything about Hamas's attacks on Israel that provoked the reactions.

Of course, faculty are entitled to free speech. However, indoctrination and the use of campus resources, such as web pages, for political causes is against University of California policy, and has been for over 50 years. Moreover, units (such as departments) do not have free speech rights; only individual faculty are given such rights. Faculty are so adamant about advocating for antisemitism that they are trying to change this policy, specifically to advocate against "Zionism".

Here, again, the campus administration has been silent.

It's not just the faculty as a whole, though. Here, again, I was the target of antisemitic messaging from a colleague in my department (Computer Science & Engineering).

Safe Person, Safe Space

He felt "threatened" by this door sign because he thought incorporated the Israeli flag. He was quick to say that he hated Israel and wanted it to not exist, but didn't think that was antisemitic. He (apparently) had no idea that both the Star of David and this approximate shade of blue have long been Jewish symbols. But beyond this ignorance, it's not clear how a sign offering a safe haven to Jewish students could be threatening to anyone. If someone had a similar reaction to a rainbow sign offering a safe place to gay students (something that many faculty at UCSC offer), would it be acceptable to attack such a faculty member?

This is just a small sample of the antisemitism that pervades the UC Santa Cruz faculty.

Interaction with the city of Santa Cruz

Unfortunately, the city of Santa Cruz has become more antisemitic as well. The City Council debated and voted on a ceasefire resolution whose original text didn't mention Hamas or October 7th, instead blaming Israel for the war. To its credit, the City Council passed a substitute resolution that was much more even. However, the behavior of the crowd at the City Council meeting, led by anti-Israel UC Santa Cruz faculty and students, was threatening. Commenters often didn't distinguish between Israel, Zionists, and Jews. Moreover, when the Council passed the substitute resolution, they had to call in the police to maintain order and ensure their own safety. After the Council meeting, multiple Council members, including the mayor, received credible threats.

The Resource Center for Nonviolence, based in Santa Cruz, hosted the founding conference for the Institute for the Critical Study of Zionism, a university-based organization whose goal is no less than the destruction of the state of Israel. This Institute, backed by the Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Department at UC Santa Cruz, "join[s] in resistance to structures of racism, group supremacy, violence, militarism, colonialism, and capitalism". In other words, a UC Santa Cruz department is formally endorsing an organization (ICSZ) that excuses rape and murder as "resistance".