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Richard Sherman's Letter to Dr. Brenda Thames:Antisemitism Flourishes at El Camino Community College

Dear Dr. Brenda Thames, President & CEO of El Camino Community College:


It has been more than disappointing to read in national and international publications that El Camino Community College permitted and applauded Jana Abulaban spewing the antisemitic culumny of "Israel apartheid" throughout a recent commencement speech. Born in Jordan she mendaciously told the crowd that she was "a Palestinian refugee". Importantly it is obvious that Abulaban has never spoken to knowledgeable South Africans.

SWU South Africa Executive Director Cassandra Mayekiso recently said: "The truth is that Israel bears no resemblance to the oppressive apartheid regime that oppressed my people".

South African Klaas Mokomole, head coordinator of Africans for Peace and a former BDS activist says: "Israel is not a settler state. The Jewish population is indigenous to Israel and are the descendants of refugees who were cast out centuries ago. It is irreconcilable how one considers the original inhabitants returning to their ancestral homelands participating in a settler colonial project,” He also stated, “I'm South African. Calling Israel 'Apartheid' puts the BS in BDS", (Jewish News of Northern California, 4/22/22).


South African Rev. Kenneth Meshoe, president of the African Christian Democratic Party, recently said: “Those who know what real apartheid is, as I, know that there is nothing in Israel that looks like apartheid.” He added that calling Israel an apartheid state is an “empty political statement that does not hold (any) truth.”


As Johannesburg native and activist Olga Meshoe Washington has said:


“My people’s history and experience is being used as an antisemitic tool to politically, morally and with incredible pretzel-like twisting and legal gymnastics, legally delegitimize Israel with the hope to criminalize her."


Further, anyone who is not antisemitic understands that a foundational linchpin of South African apartheid was zero upward mobility for Blacks.


Since 2019 the CEO of Bank Leumi, the largest bank in Israel, has been an Arab, Samer Haj-Yehia. Under South African apartheid, if a black stepped into a "white" bank for any reason, he or she was immediately arrested and imprisoned. An Arab, Khaled Kabub, is a justice on Israel’s Supreme Court. He replaced another Arab, George Karra. The medical professions in Israel are overrepresented by Arabs in terms of their percentage of the population. Academia in Israel includes many Arab professors and administrators.


Finally, Nobel Peace Prize winner and South African Nelson Mandela in 1997 accepted an honorary doctorate from Israel’s Ben Gurion University of the Negev. No rational person would believe that Mandela would have accepted such recognition from an apartheid state. Further in 1993 Nelson Mandela said: "We recognize the legitimacy of Zionism as Jewish nationalism".


Virtue signaling about "Israeli apartheid" may make progressive antisemites (antisemitic progressives?) like Abulaban feel good, but it is ahistorical antisemitic balderdash -- as Nelson Mandela understood -- in the perverse tradition of The Nuremberg Laws.


Of course none of this virulent antisemitism would have engulfed El Camino Community College if you and your staff had simply required your professors and students to follow the wisdom and prescience of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr who said at Cambridge, Massachusetts shortly before his death: "When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews; you're talking antisemitism". Unfortunately when you have professors and students who are encouraged to throw the wisdom and prescience of Dr. King under the bus, the result is faux Nazi commencement speeches.


Thank you for your time.


Richard Sherman

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