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    Setting Brushfires of Freedom by Don Jans

    Gaza war provokes activism in CA

    By Mikhail Zinshteyn

    With emotions running high over the Gaza war, University of California regents met Wednesday with a crucial item on the agenda: How to respond to the antisemitism and Islamophobia that have rocked college campuses since Oct. 7, the day Hamas attacked Israel, followed by Israel’s military operations in response.

    The result of the debate: A shift of $7 million to fund emergency mental health services for students and staff, anti-extremism programs and additional training for educators, writes CalMatters’ higher education reporter Mikhail Zinshteyn.

    The chairperson of the UC regents also urged the 10 university campuses to informally commit to three priorities: Ensure student safety, enforce existing policies against violence and intimidation and appropriately respond to hateful speech.
    There was pressure on the regents. Gov. Gavin Newsom sent a letter Monday to the leaders of the UC, California State University and the California Community Colleges systems urging them to boost campus safety, and to “cultivate spaces for affinity and dialogue,” reports Politico.

    This follows a letter last week from the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, which called on UC and Cal State leaders to “take immediate action to protect Jewish students” as they face “a barrage of physical abuse, threats, intimidation” and other harassment.

    During the public comment period of the meeting, students and staff took a stand against injustice. Referring to anti-Zionism, the executive director of the UCLA chapter of the Jewish religious organization Hillel said that “there’s an acknowledgment and a normalization of a specific form of antisemitism, which attacks our students’ identity.”

    Another student, who said they participated in four pro-Palestine rallies at UCLA, took issue with the UCLA chancellor’s description of the most recent protest as “extremely hateful behavior.” The student argued that the rally “was entirely peaceful,” and that the chancellor’s description was “a deliberate falsification of the courageous stand that students are taking.”

    For more about what came out of the UC regents meeting, read Mikhail’s story.

    Meanwhile in San Francisco, a big showing of protests took place Wednesday during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, as the highly-anticipated meeting between President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jingping was underway.

    Amid the ramped up police presence and security gates strategically placed around downtown, pro-Palestinian demonstrators called for a ceasefire in Gaza and denounced Biden’s support for Israel, continuing their protests from the days before. These included members of the Palestinian Youth Movement and the Party for Socialism and Liberation, according to KQED.

    Also in the fray were participants of Students for a Free Tibet and No to APEC, as well as others rallying for various causes that included climate change and the rights of LGBTQ+ and Indigenous people.

    China also got its share of APEC heat. A KTLA reporter noted that protestors came out to oppose the country’s Communist Party, including the New Federal State of China, a lobbying organization co-founded by former White House strategist under President Donald Trump, Steve Bannon.

     

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