College Insurrection has often featured the thoughtful op-eds of University of California – Los Angeles student Eitan Arom.

Arom offers his take on the recent divestment drama and Ben Shapiro’s response (detailed at Legal Insurrection).

As a Jew, there’s no word I reserve when describing how I feel about anti-Semitism. “Abhor” is my go-to. “Despise” is fair game. “Disgusting” is appropriate as an adjective.

But the other side of that coin is casting a wary eye at those who apply the term “anti-Semite” only for its shock value.

For instance, at last week’s Undergraduate Students Association Council meeting, conservative radio personality Ben Shapiro took the microphone and, in his best sneering AM-radio voice, called a resolution to divest from Israeli military activities “violent, despicable Jew-hatred.”

Shapiro’s grandstanding declarations – there is no better word for them – were part of a rhetorical arms race that, even as it has evolved in intensity, has devolved in its tone and regard for facts.

…If the events of the last two weeks have shown me anything, it’s that UCLA has in large part failed to teach its students to critically evaluate rhetoric and separate the good from the lazy and ill-informed.

The implication that to be pro-divestment is to be anti-Semitic is one of the best examples of the lazy, ill-informed rhetoric that has taken hold. Indeed, the students that made that claim along with Shapiro at the USAC meeting are in pretty poor company.

Three separate unsigned emails to USAC Student Wellness Commissioner Savannah Badalich, who was seen as a swing vote on the divestment issue, made that comparison, with one saying “if you as a council member vote for this you are undoubtedly anti-semitic.” Another wrote that those pushing for divestment should “watch your backs.”

These anonymous and semi-literate messages are the worst instances of a campus climate that is pretty poor on the whole.

…Two campus climate reports commissioned in 2012 by then-UC President Mark Yudof – one dealing with Muslim and Arab students and the other with Jewish students – were unsurprisingly noncommittal, with one suggesting a bizarre restriction of free speech and the other failing to make any unexpected suggestions.

But a good first step would be for the leaders of organizations like Bruins for Israel, Students for Justice in Palestine and Hillel at UCLA to turn to the people who follow their lead and tell them to disengage with rhetoric that is one-sided, factually weak or personally directed.

False or intentionally hurtful statements are immoral by nature. It appears, then, that the UCLA community has strayed far from its moral principles.