Former DEI Director: ‘DEI Ideology Deliberately Stokes Hatred Toward Israel and the Jewish People’
Tabia Lee spent about two decades working in the field of education. However, it came to a halt after she was terminated from her two-year position as the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) director at De Anza Community College in California. The role of DEI director, as stated by De Anza, is to provide “equity, social justice, and academic success for all members” on campus. But Lee’s testimony, which is centered around witnessing “blatant” anti-Semitism, revealed De Anza doesn’t really mean “all” students.
In her op-ed published in The New York Post, she wrote, “I made the mistake of trying to create an authentically inclusive learning environment for everyone, including Jewish students.” She continued, “In fact, I can safely say that toxic DEI ideology deliberately stokes hatred toward Israel and the Jewish people.”
When Lee first became De Anza’s DEI director, she recalled several Jewish students who approached her and said the “campus was essentially an antisemitic environment.” Assuming her role, she attempted to bring inclusion for Jewish students by inviting Jewish speakers to campus. Such acts were quickly shut down by the institution. After approaching administration about her concerns, she said “campus leaders and colleagues repeatedly” told her she “shouldn’t raise issues about Jewish inclusion or antisemitism.” Lee’s attempt to include all students gave her the title, “dirty Zionist” and cost her job.
“I have never encountered a more hostile environment toward the members of any racial, ethnic or religious group,” she said. “I was astounded, but I shouldn’t have been.”
She concluded that what started as “rhetorical attacks” by DEI’s consistent anti-Semitism is now broadening into a call for violence, which, for Lee, was inevitable. “When you stoke that kind of division and anger, you unleash fires you can’t control,” she said. “Sure enough, the fire of antisemitism is now burning bright on college campuses.”
Joseph Backholm, senior fellow for the Center for Biblical Worldview and Strategic Engagement at Family Research Council, shared with The Washington Stand, “[S]ome people approach the idea of diversity, equity, and inclusion with integrity.” He said Lee is an example of this, as she approached “the subject from a place of genuine respect for human rights and human dignity, regardless of who you are.”
However, he also noted how Lee discovered her mindset is “not universally shared within the DEI community.” He added, “Often, the proponents of DEI want to use the language of inclusion to gain their own kind of cultural dominance so they can assert their will over people they’ve decided don’t deserve the respect of toleration.”
In comments to TWS, David Closson, director of FRC’s Center for Biblical Worldview, added that “the ongoing war between Hamas and Israel has uncovered a sinister underbelly of anti-Semitism on college campuses.” For Closson, it is important to recognize “the guiding framework the Left uses is the intersectionality scheme,” which involves “the main categories of ‘oppressors’ and ‘the oppressed.’” He added, “Many who think through this intersectionality framework view Jews as part of the ‘oppressor’ class.” Backholm emphasized that these two categories consequently change “the way we evaluate right and wrong.”
He continued, “Under a Judeo-Christian understanding of morality, rape, arson, looting, and sending rockets into schools is always morally wrong. [But] under a critical theory understanding of morality, we can’t know if a particular action is right or wrong until we know who did it and why.” For Backholm, this is a worldview where “the same behavior is right for one person but wrong for another.” This mindset has caused “people [to] sympathize with mass murder from Hamas, and it is why DEI offices are often centers of racism and bigotry towards Jews,” he observed.
Closson went on to explain that a “biblical worldview sees all people made in God’s image, having inherent value and dignity. Period.” Additionally, “It rejects the fundamental framework of DEI intersectionality, which pits people against one another on subjective traits.” A biblical worldview will not put up “arbitrary lines and divisions based on inherently superficial categories,” he concluded, because it “sees all people equally made in God’s image, equally fallen, and equally in need of redemption.”
Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.