Warning: This article contains content related to antisemitic discrimination.
UC Santa Barbara administrators, Jewish community members, public officials and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office condemned antisemitic flyer packets distributed across Isla Vista on Jan. 31.
The packets — distributed in the hundreds and manufactured by a white supremacist hate group — each held several fliers with antisemitic conspiracy theories, hate propaganda and Holocaust denial rhetoric combined with pebbles and rocks. They were found on multiple streets in I.V., including the 68 block of Del Playa Drive, Sabado Tarde Road and Camino Corto, according to Santa Barbara County 2nd District Supervisor Laura Capps’ office.
One day earlier, on Jan. 30, an Israeli politics classroom was graffitied with ‘Fuck Israel’ and ‘From the River to the Sea,’ which community leaders also decried as antisemitic speech.
Following these two instances, the UCSB Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion sent out an email on Jan. 31 condemning both occurrences. The email stated that the university would not tolerate “the recent distribution of horrific anti-Semitic propaganda against our Jewish community in our campus classrooms and in Isla Vista.” The email also condemned recent acts of anti-Black and anti-Asian violence.
In addition to the UCSB statement, Students Supporting Israel, Santa Barbara Hillel, Chabad UCSB, End Jew Hatred, Mishelanu and Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Phi (AEPi) also condemned both the chalked graffiti and distribution of antisemitic flyers.
“As proud and outspoken members of our Jewish community, we stand in unified opposition to these hateful antisemitic acts,” a statement signed by Students Supporting Israel, Santa Barbara Hillel, Chabad at UCSB, End Jew Hatred, Israeli American Council Mishelanu and Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) read.
“At this time, we call on the UCSB administration to publicly condemn these antisemitic acts on the Jewish 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,” the statement continued.
Community leaders, including Capps, the Isla Vista Community Services District and members of the Goleta Union School Board, denounced the antisemitic flyers in a joint statement.
“As elected and appointed leaders representing Isla Vista and UCSB, we condemn in the strongest possible terms the antisemitic fliers dispersed in our neighborhoods. We stand in solidarity with our Jewish community, and against hatred and bigotry. Hate can have no home in our community,” the statement read.
Though both the university and several Jewish campus organizations condemned both instances as antisemitic, student groups like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) said the chalked graffiti represented anti-Zionism, not antisemitism.
“The writings on that board were in no way antisemitic. Israel does NOT represent Judaism and no matter how much these orgs want to spread misinformation, anti Zionism is NOT antisemitism,” SJP said in a statement to the Nexus. “Saying Free Palestine or Fuck Israel is not antisemitism and not direct at Jewish students but at zionists … From the River to the Sea calls for the occupation to end.”
A community meeting held Jan. 31 at Hillel — a Jewish student life organization — hosted UCSB administrators, an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) member and representatives of both the UC Police Department and Isla Vista Foot Patrol to discuss the recent events and answer student questions.
Regional ADL Director Dan Meisel discussed patterns of antisemitic flyer distribution, which were last seen in the Santa Barbara area December 2022 in the Mesa.
“If there isn’t an ordinance that prevents any fliers from being dropped on doorsteps, then what they’re doing is likely not littering because there’s First Amendment protection for the distribution of content, even vehemently hateful content,” he said.
UCPD Community Outreach Team Officer Ariel Bournes noted that the patrol deputies gathering the majority of flyers didn’t find any specific person or people being targeted during their investigation and discussed the potential of police escorts or Community Service Officers being present at Jewish community events, including Shabbat.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement on Jan. 31 to inform the community that they don’t condone any form of antisemitism and are actively investigating the fliers, which were manufactured by the hate group Goyim Defense League.
“Sheriff Bill Brown would like to reassure members of the Jewish community that we are actively investigating these incidents and deputies will continue to reach out to Jewish faith leaders and community centers to establish open communication and address any safety concerns,” the statement read.
Fourth-year political science major Alexa Grines said she woke up on Jan. 31 with her roommate, third-year political science and communication double major Tessa Veksler, to a variety of texts from fellow Jewish students about antisemitic flyers. Walking outside, Grines and Veksler — both Associated Students Senators — found a packet of antisemitic hate speech at their doorstep.
“Tessa and I then spent the next few hours biking around Isla Vista, collecting hundreds of these bags, which was really difficult for us to see. And from then on, we were advising the Jewish community and being a safe space and an outlet for the Jews in the community,” Grines, who also serves as president of Chabad at UCSB — a religious Jewish organization — said.
Grines attended the evening meeting at Hillel and said she didn’t feel as though UCSB administrators provided an adequate response to protecting and defending Jewish students on campus.
“I really hope that the administration takes more of a stance on it,” she said. “I know they sent out a diversity, equity, inclusion email, but that didn’t contain an adequate enough response to the situation. So I really do hope that more comes out of this and more protection for Jewish students is available.”
Veksler, who serves on the board of several Jewish organizations, said she felt that antisemitism on UCSB’s campus was an ongoing issue that was often glossed over by the greater campus community.
“The UCSB Jewish community and the Jewish community at large [have] been speaking out about antisemitism for a long time. Not just specifically since I’ve been here, but in general, and this is really nothing new,” she said. “It’s incredibly unfortunate that harassment of Jewish students needs to come to this point for people to finally hear us.”
Veksler said that although she was extremely grateful for and proud of the Jewish community on campus, the silence from the non-Jewish community on issues of antisemitism is “deafening.”
“I think that it’s very telling that it’s almost as if people are waiting for something horrible to happen to the Jewish community before they stand up for it. I think it’s really important to realize that you don’t want to be the person that stands up for us when it’s too late. We’ve been there. We’ve seen it,” she continued.
Veksler authored a resolution that the A.S. Senate will discuss during its Feb. 1 meeting entitled, “A Resolution in Support of the Jewish Community and the Condemnation of Antisemitism.” The resolution calls upon the university to implement mandatory antisemitism training for A.S. members and regularly meet with members of the Jewish community, among other actions.
In regards to the ‘Fuck Israel’ and ‘From the River to the Sea’ classroom graffiti, UCSB Assistant Dean & Director for the Office of Student Conduct Joaquin Becerra said during the Hillel event that “there’s a couple of different areas in which this may be a violation of the student code,” although the individual, or individuals, who wrote the phrases has not been identified.
“Our office responds and student life responds to incidents of hate — even if not police violations — by addressing through restorative justice, mindset and approach in order to educate individuals,” he said. “What’s going to root out antisemitism in our community? It’s through education from stopping individuals reengaging in hateful acts.”
Fourth-year Italian and history double major and AEPi Vice President Nicholas Tassinari said that while he feels safe on campus, he knows other Jewish students do not. He chose to wear a yarmulke and ‘End Jew Hatred’ shirt on the day of the antisemitic pamphleting to show Jewish students they weren’t alone in their identity.
“I myself feel safe, but I know many Jewish students don’t feel safe on campus,” Tassinari said. “I want other Jewish students to feel like they don’t have to hide or conceal their Jewish identity. I want them to feel [that] it’s okay to be Jewish here at UCSB, that we have allies; you have people who will help back you up. I don’t want other Jews to feel like there’s a problem with being Jewish.”
Santa Barbara Hillel Rabbi Evan Goodman — who helped host the Jan. 31 event — said that there are resources Jewish students can utilize, including Hillel, if they’re feeling unsafe or alone.
“Jewish students are looking for resources. Jewish students often see themselves as minorities but aren’t always seen as a minority by others around them. So we want Jewish students to know that we are a safe space, that we are here. You know, our staff and our student leaders are here to listen to them, support them. And we want you to know, we’re there for them,” he said.
Mark Alfred contributed reporting.
Ironically, ‘From the River to the Sea’ succinctly describes the Zionist occupation of Palestine.
The individual who makes that antisemitic literature is Jon Minadeo who was originally located in Petaluma, CA (Sonoma County). Eventually, he moved to FL where he launched “GoyimTV” w/ the help of Dominic Di Giorgio of Port St. Lucie, FL. They are strictly anti-Jewish & considered a white supremacist group. People can order boxes of these flyer packets from them to distribute in their areas of intent. If the distribution of this propaganda makes the news, then the distributor is eligible for prizes from GoyimTV. Bottom line, it’s a hate group that makes it possible for hateful individuals to spread… Read more »