The anti-Israel climate and general ignorance of the UC Berkeley campus has again come to the public's attention as a result of newly-released footage from filmmaker Ami Horowitz. In the video, Horowitz is seen waving an Islamic State flag with little backlash. He then proceeds to wave an Israeli flag at various points at campus and is subjected to epithets and rhetoric that are widely considered anti-Semitic.
Horowitz's video is telling: the apathy and ignorance of many of the students on the Berkeley campus is startling, as is the hatred and vitriol toward Israel. But most disturbing of all is that the video is only the tip of the iceberg.
In this academic year the flames of anti-Semitism have been reignited on the UC Berkeley campus. On September 23rd, openly anti-Semitic Berkeley professor Hatem Bazian and Students for Justice in Palestine hosted a "Day of Action" against Israel. In this public event, student leaders such as student government senators Marium Navid, Austin Pritzkat, and Madison Gordon, as well as the external affairs vice president Caitlin Quinn chanted “Long Live the Intifada,” “We support the Intifada,” and other recycled chants against Israel.
No, an intifada is not a spiritual awakening. It is a violent Palestinian uprising in which men, women, and children die at the hands of terrorists looking to murder innocents. How such chants and bigotry fits into the UC Berkeley student government mission to "articulate and represent the student interest in the governance of the campus, provide services and coordinate activities for students, and advance our common interests and concerns as students and as citizens" is unclear.
And their chants came true. Just months after these Berkeley student leaders called for an intifada, there are terrorist attacks happening on an almost daily basis in Israel. Innocent children, women, and men, Jews and non-Jews alike, have been slaughtered.
On the Berkeley campus just yesterday, a tuition hike occupy protest put up signs calling for "justice in Palestine" and Palestinian flags. The protestors related the alleged plight of Palestinians at the hands of Israel to the tuition increase by the UC Board of Regents. One sign read "From Ferguson to Gaza, Let the Fires Burn."
In response to Palestinian flags being put up by students all over (inside and outside) Wheeler Hall (one of the main buildings on campus), someone put an Israeli flag up next to the Palestinian flag draped on the exterior of the building. That flag only lasted around 10 minutes before disappearing. The students that hung the flag do not know what happened to it.
The lack of response to Horowitz's waving of an ISIS flag is potentially excusable: many students are ignorant and unaware of world affairs. The lack of passionate responses contesting the Islamic State does not necessarily indicate sympathy or support. Chances are the students simply haven't picked up a newspaper.
But the hatred expressed toward Horowitz while he was holding the Israeli flag is likely an accurate measure of the anti-Israel climate on campus and in line with the moral repugnance repeatedly demonstrated. And worse, members of the student government that is tasked with serving the students, instead aid, augment and participate in the anti-Israel sentiment, providing little cover for Jewish students who want to walk to class without hearing calls for the blood of innocents.