On Monday, UC Santa Barbara students and staff were shocked to discover anti-Semitic messages scrawled on a chalkboard of an Israeli Politics class on campus. One statement specifically read, “From the river to the sea,” referring to a common phrase symbolizing the total elimination of the State of Israel and Palestinian control from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.
On Tuesday morning, residents and employees of businesses in the neighboring Isla Vista community were similarly shocked to find hundreds of flyers distributed in the area spreading anti-Semitic ideas, denying the Holocaust, and seemingly connecting Jewish people with racism, homophobia, and pedophilia.
A joint statement about the incidents was released on social media Tuesday, signed by Jewish student organizations Santa Barbara Hillel, Chabad at UCSB, End Jew Hatred, Students Supporting Israel, Mishelanu, and the school’s Alpha Epsilon Pi–Sigma Beta Chapter, which noted that the events took place within four days of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, saying they act as a reminder “that anti-Semitism is not a thing of the past but something that has become disturbingly common.”
“As proud and outspoken members of our Jewish community, we stand in unified opposition to these hateful anti-Semitic acts. UCSB has a vibrant and thriving Jewish population, and we refuse to be intimidated by hatred in any form,” the joint statement read. “At this time, we call on the UCSB administration to publicly condemn these anti-Semitic attacks on the Jewish student community of UCSB and Isla Vista, and take action to ensure Jewish students receive the same level of support and protection as is provided to students from any other minority group. We encourage you to share this statement on social media, contact the UCSB administration to express your outrage, and check in on your Jewish friends.”
Images of the chalkboard that were posted to Instagram have since been deleted, and showed the phrase “F*** ISRAEL” in large letters, surrounded by other offhand references to Israel and Jewish people.
Photos of the flyers distributed in Isla Vista mirror the anti-Semitic flyers and bags of rocks distributed in other Santa Barbara neighborhoods in December 2022, on the first day of Hanukkah, with references to “Jewish white supremacy,” “COVID agendas,” and images of other anti-Jewish propaganda released throughout history. The flyers distributed this week and in December both bear the name of the same small, nationally based anti-Semitic fringe group, though it’s currently unclear what role if any the group might have played in Monday’s chalkboard incident. [Editor’s note: The Independent has decided not to publish the group’s name or photos of the flyers, which include the group’s name, in this story.]
In response to the incidents, UCSB released a statement saying the university “stands firmly against all forms of hate, violence, and discrimination, whether it is on campus or in our community,” and that the flyers “targeting the Jewish community” are being investigated by the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office.
“We also encourage members of our university community who are in need of support, or know of someone in need of support, to reach out for help,” the statement read. “We want every member in our community to feel at home — welcome, accepted, supported, and safe. As a community, we are committed to fostering an inclusive environment, and to addressing all forms of racism and discrimination.”
The Sheriff’s Office also spoke out on the incidents with a statement on Tuesday, in which Sheriff Bill Brown said: “The men and women of the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office denounce hatred, violence, and racism of any kind. While we are pleased that we have had no recent hate crimes against Jewish victims reported in the communities we police, we want to ensure these types of crimes are reported to us if they occur. All such reports are taken seriously and investigated thoroughly. We will relentlessly pursue and apprehend the perpetrators of crimes committed against members of our Jewish community, or any other group of people within our county that is targeted due to their race, ancestry, religion, age, gender, disability, or sexual orientation. We stand strong in Santa Barbara County because we stand together.”Anyone with information about the source of these messages is encouraged to contact Sheriff’s detectives at (805) 681-4150, or anonymously (805) 681-4171. For those at UCSB, the campus encourages anyone wishing to report a bias incident or hate crime to file a report at studentlife.sa.ucsb.edu/bias.
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