Dear campus community,
Last month the country witnessed a resurgence of attacks on Jewish Americans. Assailants in the Beverly Grove neighborhood of Los Angeles set upon two diners. In the Fairfax district, a driver chased an Orthodox Jewish man before he found refuge in a synagogue. In New York’s Times Square, a mob attacked an individual wearing a yarmulke. These attacks are being investigated as possible hate crimes.
Distressingly the number of anti-Semitic crimes and incidents has continued to increase over the past several years. They involve the defacing of synagogues and yeshivas, physical assaults and intimidation, and online trolling. The collective impact of these acts has created a genuine sense of fear about the scope and scale of anti-Semitism in everyday life in the United States.
What sets the attacks in Los Angeles and New York apart is their public nature. The perpetrators were brazen. Perhaps they believed they would not be apprehended or that no one would care. As motivated acts, they build on recent murders where gunmen sought out Jewish people in houses of worship. In 2018, 11 people were killed at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg. A year later, during Passover service at the Chabad of Poway, a gunman killed a woman and wounded three others.
Anti-Semitism, like other forms of hate, is in complete contrast with UCI’s commitment to inclusive excellence. If anything, the recent events remind us of the critical importance of building and sustaining a campus community where all expect equity, support diversity, practice inclusion, and honor free speech.
This commitment includes encouraging campus members who experience discrimination and/or harassment to report to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity. It extends to our Confronting Extremism program, which was launched in 2017, in response to the extremist violence at Charlottesville, Virginia. Its purpose is to understand the origins and sources as well as modalities and manifestations of bias, prejudice and bigotry in society. The resulting insights promote an appreciation of our collective diversity, the resilience of our civil society, and the endurance of our democratic institutions.
To this end, the current call for proposals for Building Community to Confront Extremism are due Friday, June 4 for interested faculty and directors of student programs and centers. I look forward to your participation.
Douglas M. Haynes, Ph.D. (Pronouns: he/him/his)
Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
Chief Diversity Officer
Director, ADVANCE Program
Professor of History