BSU at Cal Poly fights racism with Jew-hatred

A Black Student Union responded to a fraternity's blackface photo with a swipe against Zionism
Caltech demonstration (via Joshua Washington)
Caltech demonstration (via Joshua Washington)

In response to an anti-Black racial incident involving a Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity member, The Drylongso Collective, which includes the Black Student Union of California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, presented a letter with a list of demands. On page two of the document it reads, “We want an increase in ASI [Associated Students, Inc.] funding for ALL cultural clubs, with the exception of organizations that are aligned with Zionist ideology.”

“Zionist” used in this manner is a pejorative referring to Jews (a sort of racial slur), particularly Jews who recognize and defend Israel as the Jewish homeland. “Zionist” in its original form simply means a person who believes Israel is the indigenous home of the Jewish people.

Lambda Chi Alpha is not a Jewish or “Zionist” fraternity. And even if it were, the stated exclusion would still be both anti-Semitic and misguided. Without addressing the specific incident that prompted this response, the most obvious question must be asked; 
Why would the Black Student Union at Cal Poly join others in attacking Jews and Israel after being offended by the actions of someone who was neither Jewish nor Israeli?

There can be only one reason: Cal Poly’s BSU is fixated on Jews and Israel.

Sadly, this convoluted, anti-Jewish thinking is also found in Black Lives Matter’s Policy Demands for Black Power, Freedom, & Justice. In the Invest-Divest section, it falsely claims that, “Israel is an apartheid state with over 50 laws on the books that sanction discrimination against the Palestinian people,” and further libels that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians. Again, not only are these statements blatantly false, they have absolutely nothing to do with, “Black Power, Freedom, or Justice.”


Israel is a multiethnic, liberal democracy in which Jews and non-Jews from some 100 nations live in peace. Twenty percent of Israel’s population is Arab (Muslim and Christian), who enjoy full rights as Israeli citizens. Award-winning journalist Khaled Abu Toameh (an Israeli Arab Muslim) reports that many Palestinians have applied for citizenship in the Jewish State, “making clear that they would prefer to live under Israel than any Arab rule.”

Though marginal in size, Black American support for the Arab Palestinian people against Israel is not a new phenomenon. It dates back to the 1960’s when Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman, Yasser Arafat formed an alliance with the original Black Panther Party. Former Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver used the same anti-Zionist rhetoric that BLM espouses, and that Cal Poly’s BSU no doubt affirms. However, Cleaver had a change of heart once he witnessed African slaves in Algeria firsthand, and researched the long history of the Jewish contribution to justice and anti-racism.

Of all the people in the world, the Jews have not only suffered particularly from racist persecution, they have done more than any other people in history to expose and condemn racism. Generations of Jewish social scientists and scholars have labored long and hard in every field of knowledge, from anthropology to psychology, to lay bare and refute all claims of racial inferiority and superiority.

In his March 25th, 1968 meeting with the Rabbinical Assembly, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated that “Probably more than any other ethnic group, the Jewish community has been sympathetic and has stood as an ally to the Negro in his struggle for justice.” He also defended the right of the Jewish people to live in peace in Israel, which is a very “Zionist” thing to do.

“Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all of our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel…as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land almost can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy.”

Bayard Rustin was one of Dr. King’s fellow warriors in the civil rights struggle. In 1975, Rustin founded BASIC – Black Americans to Support Israel Committee expressly because Israel was being falsely accused of being a racist nation. BASIC defended both the Jewish State and the historic alliance between Blacks and Jews.

“In the fight against discrimination, black Americans and American Jews have shared profound and enduring common interests that far transcend any differences between us. Jews through individuals and organizations have been among the staunchest allies in the struggle for racial justice, sharing with us the conviction that equality is indivisible and that no minority is secure in its rights if the rights of any are impaired.”

Zionism is the liberation struggle of the Jews who were conquered, colonized, and scattered all over the world. But they survived and Israel thrives. We are witnessing what could best be described as a family reunion as the multiethnic Jewish people return to their ancestral home from Africa, Asia, throughout the Middle East, Western and Eastern Europe, North and South America, and beyond. In his book, Zionism & the Black Church, Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel (IBSI) founder, Dumisani Washington explains that Zionism was cited as inspiration by Black American leaders such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, and even Malcolm X.

The Drylongso Collective and the BSU at Cal Poly is attempting to rebuke anti-Black racism by advancing discrimination against Jews. If you are a religious person or have any belief in karma or reciprocity, you know this is a failed mission. One simply cannot champion justice with one hand, and smite his brother with the other. The Universe will not allow it.

Perhaps the easiest way to illustrate the folly of what the BSU has done is to imagine that it was Jewish students who were offended; and if they issued a letter which included, “We want an increase in funding for ALL cultural clubs, with the exception of organizations that are aligned with justice for Black Americans, people of African descent, or African nations.”

What do we suppose the response would be?

About the Author
Joshua is the Director of the Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel (IBSI) where he plans events and speaks. He’s a composition graduate of the University of Pacific’s Conservatory of Music. Joshua was formerly IBSI’s Director of Special Events, and planned music performances featuring The Hebrew Project Artists (THP) across the country. Joshua is also a graduate of CUFI’s 2016 Diversity Outreach Mentoring Endeavor (DOME), where he received training in Israel advocacy for diverse audiences. He was chosen to travel to Israel twice; once as part of CUFI’s millennial outreach, Israel Collective, and again as part of a music performance with Victor Styrsky’s Wild Branches & Friends. His other musical endeavors include writing for the Boston Pops, and music directing for other artists. Joshua is also a featured author on a collaborative book called 'Israelophobia and the West: The Hijacking of Civil Discourse on Israel and How to Rescue It' by Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs official, Dan Diker.
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