Harassed for Being a Zionist: The Resignation of USC’s Rose Ritch – Honestreporting.com

Posted By on August 16, 2020

The code of ethics at the University of Southern California states: We nurture an environment of mutual respect and tolerance. As members of the USC community, we treat everyone with respect and dignity, even when the values, beliefs, behavior, or background of a person or group is repugnant to us.

USC should consider amending that statement and add: with the exception of Zionists who believe that Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state.

That is because it has become clear that USC does not nurture an environment in which Zionists are treated with respect, dignity, mutual respect and tolerance.

Last February, Rose Ritch, a proudly Jewish and Zionist student ran for the position of Vice President of USCs Student Government. During the campaign it became clear that there was significant opposition to her candidacy. Her campaign signs were taken down numerous times, she was labeled a pro-Israel white supremacist online, and during the debate a student openly asked her how she could represent all USC students given the fact that she supports Israel. Despite this antagonism, Rose was elected.

The opposition to Rose holding this position quickly turned into a campaign to impeach her. Rose was accused of being a racist because of her pro-Israel stance and a process of shaming, invalidation, and even dehumanization gained steam on campus online forums. People opposing Rose went so far as to claim that they felt unsafe on campus with a Zionist in such a prominent position. At no point did anyone ask Rose to engage in conversation or even a debate about her pro-Israel stance. No one asked to learn more about Israel and the very complex, nuanced Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

They simply chose to cancel her out, in complete violation of the USC Code of Ethics.

Rose stepped down last week, explaining in her resignation letter that this was: The only sustainable choice I can make to protect my physical safety on campus and my mental health.

In her missive, Rose explained what being a Jew and a Zionist means to her:

My Jewish and Zionist identity has helped shape every part of who I am, and they cannot be separated. Nearly 95 percent of American Jews support Israel as the Jewish state, inherently connected to our religious history and communal peoplehood. An attack on my Zionist identity is an attack on my Jewish identity. The suggestion that my support for a Jewish homeland would make me unfit for office or would justify my impeachment plays into the oldest stereotypes of Jews, including accusations of dual loyalty and holding all Jews responsible for the actions of the Israeli government.

Related Reading: Israel Apartheid Week: The Smear Disguised as a Human Rights Campaign

I was elected to represent all USC students. In fact, the values of social justice I ran on and hold dear are born out of my Judaism and Zionist beliefs. Through the teachings of Kavod Bariot, dignity for all, I understand we have an obligation to stand with our fellow humans to ensure an end to all injustices throughout our campuses and our communities. The value of Lo Taamod, You Shall Not Stand Idly By, is what drove me to march with my fellow Trojans and Angelinos to protest injustices toward the Black community. And the suffering of the Jewish people the persecution, massacres, and genocide we have experienced throughout our history has taught me to speak out for all those who are mistreated.

In response to Roses resignation, USC president Dr. Carol Folt announced a new initiative by the USC Shoah Foundation called Stronger than Hate.

She explained:

This program serves as a call to counter hate with tangible action. It represents the work of many of our university leaders including students, staff, and faculty who have come together to support and amplify our collective struggle against hate. Through meaningful exhibitions, programs, and workshops, this initiative is designed to help foster a campus culture of connection and compassion that empowers us to listen, learn, heal, and dream together. We hope that as we listen to each other, we can move beyond stereotyped beliefs that lead to implicit and explicit biases, and instead foster a respectful and supportive campus culture.

Dr. Folts announcement is most certainly welcome. Speaking out against antisemitism and organizing workshops and exhibitions against hate are positive developments. But this still does not address the elephant in the room the acceptance of the premise that Zionists are racists. Criticism of the policies enacted by Israels democratically elected government should never be silenced. But until university leaders openly declare the legitimacy of Zionism the position that the Jewish people have a right to their own state in their ancient homeland, while, of course, providing equality for all its citizens they are complicit in the attacks and the silencing that Rose experienced.

Not denouncing the vicious falsehood that Zionism equals racism and Zionists are racists, goes against the very fabric of what universities should be places of intellectual curiosity and robust debate.

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Harassed for Being a Zionist: The Resignation of USC's Rose Ritch - Honestreporting.com

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