Antisemitism, world’s oldest hatred, resurges after Oct. 7

To the editor: UC Berkeley Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky is an honored scholar whom I revere. He could have said more in his op-ed article, “Nothing has prepared me for the antisemitism I see on college campuses now.”

In thousands of years of history, Jews have been persecuted and pushed out their lands. Antisemitism has been called the world’s oldest hatred.

Chemerinsky was spared and lucky. In 7th grade, my sewing teacher placed me in the center of the class and said, “Let’s see if the Jew girl can sew.” Years later, a friend and companion teacher asked to see my horns because all Jews have horns.

In 1939, the St. Louis, a ship of 937 Jewish refugees hoping to escape the Holocaust, was refused landing, first by Cuba, then America and finally Canada. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was concerned about his political future. This refusal of the St. Louis’ desperate refugees was a death sentence for those Jews who had to return to Germany. They were abandoned by the world.

Prejudice is a never-ending cancer perpetrated by ignorance.

Toni Wellen, Carpinteria


To the editor: I couldn’t agree more with Chemerinsky. I am a Jewish American with family in Israel; the last four weeks have been hellish. After the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks, I had tearful days and nightmares when I slept.

And as professor at Cal State Northridge, I worried. Would I be able to fulfill my teaching responsibilities?

Then on Oct. 23, faculty received a letter from Dr. Mildred García, the new chancellor of the 23-campus Cal State University system. She wrote:

“We are horrified and heartbroken by the recent acts of terrorism, hatred and the tragic loss of innocent life in Israel and the Gaza Strip, all of which the CSU unequivocally condemns in the strongest terms as antithetical to our core values. … The CSU remains a place where we are free and safe to share our perspectives, experiences and worldviews.”

Her letter gave me much-needed comfort and courage. I began my next class session by sharing that I am Jewish and experiencing great stress due to the attack on Israel and deep worry for my Israeli family. These students of myriad cultures and religious faiths responded with nothing but understanding and empathy.

Tovah Sands, Woodland Hills


To the editor: Chemerinsky is clueless. He’s the ostrich with his head in the sand.

There are two organizations, and perhaps others, that for the last 10 years have been documenting the sorry state of higher education on California campuses, with a specific emphasis on the leadership’s tolerance of ignorance and hatred directed against the Jewish people.

To The Times’ editors, I say, do your readers a favor and publish op-ed articles by the directors of Amcha Initiative and StandwithUs. They’ve been sounding the alarm for the last decade.

For the aware and alert, nothing happens overnight.

Ellen Switkes, Sherman Oaks


To the editor: I’ve been proudly wearing Cal sweatshirts for more than 60 years. I wore my first in September 1961 when I was a freshman living at home in San Lorenzo commuting long miles to UC Berkeley. I celebrated graduation with a new sweatshirt.

I got a job at the university and wore it proudly to football games to watch my brother, Phil Croyle, attend Cal on a football scholarship and intercept Stanford quarterback Jim Plunkett’s final pass to win the 1970 Big Game.

Since then I’ve never been without one. When an old one got ragged and faded, there was a son and then a daughter going to Berkeley to freshen my wardrobe with a Christmas present of new sweatshirts.

I loved Cal. I’ve loved wearing Cal sweatshirts.

But something happened this week that has never happened before. A man probably about my age was in line at the grocery store. He looked at my sweatshirt sadly and said, “Pretty hard to feel good about wearing that now, isn’t it?”

I imagine there are lots of sweatshirts that are pretty hard to wear now as the anti-Israel terrorists celebrate the left-wing takeover of the Harvards and Yales and other sheep-like institutions following the bells of antisemitism.

Janet Weaver, Huntington Beach


To the editor: I have experienced many of the same antisemitic instances that Chemerinsky describes in his op-ed article.

Today I see Hamas terrorists and their allies celebrating with great joy and enthusiasm the murder of 1,400 men, women and children and capture of more than 200 hostages in Israel. It seems that our most prestigious colleges and universities have failed to instill critical thinking in their students.

Those of us who support a two-state solution cannot conflate the barbarism of Hamas with “resistance.” Hamas has never agreed to a two-state solution but persists in attempts to destroy Israel altogether.

Wake up, kids. Jews have been the targets of hate for thousands of years. Will you continue to carry on this heinous tradition?

Barbara H. Bergen, Los Angeles


To the editor: Analyze it as you may, antisemitism is actually like the shingles. It hides, dormant, until some irritation (real or perceived) causes it to reactivate and attack violently.

Hal Greenfader, San Pedro