Two men display a flag of Israel as students participate in a "Walkout to fight Genocide and Free Palestine" at Bruin Plaza at the University of California in Los Angeles on Oct. 25, 2023. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)
The University of California’s (UC) top leaders said they stand by their condemnation of the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas after receiving criticism from a faculty group for their stance.
After Hamas’s initial attack left over 1,400 Israelis dead, the UC’s Board of Regents Chair Richard Leib and its president, Michael Drake, issued a statement on Oct. 9 condemning it.
“This was an act of terrorism, launched on a major Jewish holiday,” the statement said. “What should have been a quiet weekend of rest turned into days of unspeakable terror and shock. The violence is sickening and incomprehensible, and as of this moment we still do not know the fate of the hostages. This act deserves and requires our collective condemnation.”
They additionally empathized with members of the University of California community who may have been affected by the events and encouraged them to seek support services on campus.
However, the statement was criticized by members of the UC Ethnic Studies Faculty Council, which said it represents over 300 UC faculty members.
The council condemned the UC leaders’ statement in an Oct. 16 letter for calling Hamas “terrorists” saying it “rejects recent UC administrative communications that distort and misrepresent the unfolding genocide of Palestinians in Gaza and thereby contribute to the racist and dehumanizing erasure of Palestinian daily reality.”
A participant holds a placard as students gather during a "Walkout to fight Genocide and Free Palestine" at Bruin Plaza at the University of California in Los Angeles on Oct. 25, 2023. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)
The council called on UC leaders “to retract its charges of terrorism, to uplift the Palestinian freedom struggle, and to stand against Israel’s war crimes against and ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Palestinian people.”
UC Regent Jay Sures responded to the faculty group’s letter with his own on Oct. 31, saying that he found the group’s stance “appalling and repugnant,” and that such is “rife with falsehoods about Israel and seeks to legitimize and defend the horrific savagery of the Hamas massacre of Oct. 7.”
“Our statement of condemnation of the Oct. 7 massacre of Israeli civilians by Hamas was absolutely justified and necessary because terrorism has no place in our world,” Mr. Sures wrote.
He continued that the use of the term “terrorism” was justified because of “Hamas’ shocking brutality in which babies, children of all ages, the elderly, the disabled, and people from all walks of life were shot, raped, tortured, maimed, mutilated, decapitated, and burned alive.”
“Over 230 more people were ripped from their homes and kidnapped to Gaza, where their fates remain unknown,” he said. “These are the facts behind this current conflict, and they are absolutely verifiable and undeniable.”
More than 1,400 Israelis have been killed as of Oct. 31, with 5,400 injured, according to Israeli officials. Since the initial attack, at least 8,525 Palestinians have been killed and 21,543 injured, the Hamas-controlled Gaza Ministry of Health reported in a social media post.
Earlier, UC said it evacuated its students studying abroad at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, though it declined to say how many students were in the program.