UCLA’s tango with hate and anti-Semitism

The upcoming national SJP conference at the University of California, Los Angeles, will serve as fuel for those committed to the demonization of students across the country who are supportive of Israel.

A Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) display at UCLA. Credit: SJP UCLA via Facebook.
A Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) display at UCLA. Credit: SJP UCLA via Facebook.
Yoni Michanie
Yoni Michanie
Yoni Michanie, a former paratrooper in the Israel Defense Forces, holds a master’s degree in diplomacy and international security from IDC Herzliya. He is an Israel advocate, public speaker, Middle East analyst, and a campus adviser and strategic planner at CAMERA.

Students for Justice in Palestine will host its annual national conference in November at the University of California, Los Angeles. Despite the notoriously anti-Semitic rhetoric used by this group, UCLA will be directly facilitating the spreading of SJP’s deplorable and racist ideologies by providing campus grounds for this national summit.

There, students under the auspices of “social justice” will be trained how to promote false propaganda about the Arab-Israeli conflict via events and news articles; most importantly, they will be taught the importance of hijacking narratives from a diverse range of minorities to falsely adopt the struggles from victimized minorities. All of this will be done in the context of “defeating Zionism.” After all, SJP has gained its reputation on campus through chants calling for “Intifada, Intifada” (a demand for armed resistance) and physical intimidation intended to discourage support for Israel on campus.

SJP’s 2018 National Conference platform clearly states that its mission will be:

“To remind us that Zionism is not an insurmountable force. We know that Zionism is ethnic cleansing, destruction, mass expulsion, apartheid, and death, but it is also something very tangible. The reason we can have hope is that Zionism is a human ideology and a set of laws that have been challenged and can be destroyed.”

This should not be surprising since the 2016 National SJP conference, which was held at George Mason University, hosted Ramah Kudaimi. who has repeatedly practiced Holocaust denial, called for violent resistance against Zionists and advocates for the demise of the State of Israel.

The upcoming national SJP conference at UCLA will serve as fuel for those committed to the demonization of students across the country who are supportive of Israel. The UCLA administration must be held accountable for providing a space that allows Jewish students to feel and be threatened.

And yet, this does not reconcile with UCLA’s code of conduct, which clearly states:

“We value open access to information, free and lively debate conducted with mutual respect for individuals, and freedom from intolerance. In all of our pursuits, we strive at once for excellence and diversity, recognizing that openness and inclusion produce true quality.”

With 10 percent of the general student body population being Jewish, how will UCLA uphold its commitment to inclusiveness and freedom from intolerance if it provides a podium for the proliferation of anti-Semitic hatred hidden under the masquerade of “social justice”? UCLA’s decision to host the conference puts it as risk of not being able to truly promote “academic debate and equality.” After all, teaching students how to shut down invited speakers and threatening to engage in violent resistance against fellow classmates is detrimental to any academic institution. Just this past May, the Amcha Initiative reported the violent disruption of a Students Supporting Israel at UCLA event that not only involved the verbal assault, intimidation and silencing of the event’s speakers—and the vandalizing of their property—but threatened the safety and well-being of everyone in the hall. The SJP chapter at UCLA formed an essential part in orchestrating this non-peaceful protest.

Look no further than Stanford University to truly understand how SJP rhetoric contributes to hostile and violent attitudes towards Jewish students on campus throughout the United States. This summer, incoming resident adviser and SJP member Hamzeh Daoud declared online his intent to “physically fight Zionists on campus.” Stanford hosted the National SJP conference in the fall of 2013. After significant pressure was put on the administration by both students and outside organizations, Daoud resigned from his RA position.

While the Stanford administration responded appropriately to Daoud’s threat, college administrations regularly fail to appropriately punish the perpetrators of such discriminatory hate. From faculty members openly supporting BDS at UC Davis in Californian and Columbia University in New York, to professors using their authoritative positions in the classroom to preach anti-Zionist narratives and to fuel the anti-Israel establishment on their respective campuses, SJP’s unique brand of anti-Semitic hatred is left to flourish by administrations on many campuses.

Less than a month ago, CAMERA (the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) hosted Zionist students from across North America and the United Kingdom for its eighth Annual Student Leadership Training Conference in Boston. Some of the attendees shared their stories of the sickening discrimination they had experienced at the hands of anti-Israel groups on campus. Their belief in the right to Jewish self-determination was used as justification for them to be verbally assaulted and publicly shamed, and ostracized by their fellow classmate’s indoctrination, which is based on distortions and lies regarding the realities experienced by both Israelis and Palestinians. They returned to their campuses in preparation for the upcoming academic year equipped with the knowledge, passion, motivation and a comfortable notion that CAMERA would provide the support needed to combat hate and intolerance on their campuses. Now, the same organization the students learned to confront will be hosting its national conference and opposing goals: to spread hate and intimidation.

UCLA must reconsider the moral grounds on which it has chosen to host SJP’s conference, which is built on the pillars of racism, lies and bigotry. Administrations continuing to provide a platform for this type of hatred need to understand that this is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated. Jewish and Zionist students have been bullied, targeted and villainized for too long.

After having hosted the National SJP Conference on their respective campuses, George Mason University in Virginia, Tufts University in Massachusetts, the University of Michigan and San Diego State University are dealing with some of the most volatile anti-Semitic rhetoric in America For the protection of minority rights on campus, join CAMERA-supported groups and fellows across the world in demanding that UCLA halt its compliance in fueling anti-Semitism on U.S. campuses. With the work of our fellows on the ground and our CAMERA supported pro-Israel groups around the country, a united front has been created to urge the UCLA administration to halt its compliance in fueling anti-Semitism in college settings.

Please take a minute to sign this petition and demand that UCLA adhere to its commitment to “mutual respect, equality and inclusion.”

Yoni Michanie serves as CAMERA’s West Coast Campus Coordinator and #IDF veteran.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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