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December 19, 2014 / 27 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘UCLA’

Echoes Of McCarthyism In UCLA Anti-Israel Campaign

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

UCLA has some proud moments in the history of civil liberties.

After World War II, UCLA and the University of California, Berkeley, were hotbeds of opposition to an anti-communist loyalty oath that California tried to impose on academics. Ultimately the professors won in court in 1954.

Sixty years later, a different pressure group purportedly speaking for the “progressive” grassroots wants to impose on UCLA students a loyalty oath of sorts – a pledge foreswearing going on trips to Israel sponsored by certain Jewish organizations.

Issued by five pro-Palestinian groups, the call demanded that candidates for student government take the pledge.

Who would have thought that McCarthyite tactics would be used to target, harass and intimidate pro-Israel students, Jewish and non-Jewish, at UCLA? There are ominous echoes here of both the medieval witch hunts against Jews and Stalin’s show trials.

Leading the charge is Students for Justice in Palestine, which is funded in part by two organizations dedicated to the destruction of Israel, American Muslims for Palestine and Al-Awda.

SJP is using cyberbullying to punish Jewish students in the UCLA student government majority who voted against a recent resolution to divest from and boycott Israel. Jewish students who opposed the resolution reportedly feel uncomfortable even walking on campus because of the hate mail they have received.

Adding insult to injury, SJP has introduced an initiative calling for a judicial board investigation of student council members who have taken trips to Israel sponsored by groups such as the Anti-Defamation League, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and Hasbara Fellowships; the SJP deems the groups have “political agendas that marginalize multiple communities on campus.”

On other campuses across the country, SJP tactics include mock eviction notices against Jewish students, “die-ins,” and promotions of virulently anti-Israel speakers and events.

The SJP initiative demanding that candidates for student government positions sign a pledge not to take certain trips to Israel violates both the UCLA Principles of Community Conduct and the Student Conduct Code against harassment of all kinds.

Unfortunately, what’s happening at UCLA is not an aberration but part of a national trend. Here are examples from a coast-to-coast report compiled by Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a founder of the AMCHA Initiative, a nonprofit group that combats campus anti-Semitism:

  • At UC Davis, a student who expressed concern about anti-Semitic banners displayed at an anti-Israel “occupation” rally was physically assaulted by a protester who screamed in his face, “You are racist and you should die in hell.”
  • At UC Berkeley, a Jewish girl holding an “Israel wants peace” sign was ramrodded with a shopping cart by the head of the local SJP chapter.
  • At San Francisco State University last fall, the General Union of Palestine Students hosted an all-day event where participants could make posters and T-shirts that said, “My heroes have always killed colonizers” – meaning Jews.
  • At Harvard, the Palestine Security Committee frightened Jewish students by placing mock eviction notices on their dormitory rooms.
  • At Northeastern University in Boston, SJP vandalized a menorah and disrupted Jewish events.
  • At the University of Michigan, anti-Israel student activists hurled death threats at Jewish student council members and called them “dirty Jew” and “kike.”

Why is it that so many university administrators and academics seem paralyzed to act if the victims of campus bullying are Zionist Jews?

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block’s reactions to the developments on his campus have been unsatisfactory. First, according to the Daily Bruin, he wanted to “leave the matter to be resolved by students.” Later, he said, “I am troubled that the pledge can reasonably be seen as trying to eliminate selected viewpoints from the discussion,” but he nevertheless stood up for the pledge as free speech protected by the First Amendment.

UCLA Chancellor: Palestinian Supporters Trying to Censor Campus Discussion

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

The heads of UCLA and the University of California system criticized a student-led pledge that urged candidates for student government to refuse trips to Israel sponsored by certain pro-Israel groups.

In a statement emailed Friday to students, staff and faculty, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said the pledge was protected speech under the First Amendment, but added that “just because speech is constitutionally protected doesn’t mean that it is wise, fair or productive.”

“I am troubled that the pledge sought to delegitimize educational trips offered by some organizations but not others,” Block said, weighing in on a debate that has roiled the campus for months. “I am troubled that the pledge can reasonably be seen as trying to eliminate selected viewpoints from the discussion.”

Block’s statement was seconded by Janet Napolitano, the California system’s president, who said in a statement, “I share Chancellor Block’s concerns about students at UCLA who target any student seeking to participate in student government who has a relationship with, or wants to travel to, Israel on trips sponsored by certain groups.”

Issued by five pro-Palestinian student groups, the pledge urged the candidates to agree to refuse any trips to Israel sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League, the America Israel Public Affairs Committee and Hasbarah Fellowship, a joint venture between Aish International and the Israeli government. Two of the three major slates of candidates for student government signed the pledge, as did the student body president, but the Bruins United slate, which refused to sign the pledge, won a plurality on the council.

The issue of sponsored trips to Israel has been particularly controversial of late in connection with a February vote by the UCLA student council on a resolution urging the university to divest from certain corporations that do business in the West Bank. The resolution was voted down, 7-5, but the pro-Palestinian groups have charged that two of the council members violated the body’s conflict of interest rules by failing to abstain after having taken trips to Israel sponsored by the ADL and the American Jewish Committee. A student judicial body held a hearing last week on the case.
 

UCLA SJP ‘Violated Principles of Civility, Respect and Inclusion’

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Last week The Jewish Press reported that seven pro-Israel groups wrote to the heads of the California Board of Regents. The pro-Israel groups wanted the officials to reverse the hands-off approach college officials had taken against two shocking anti-Israel initiatives undertaken at the University of California at Los Angeles. The goal of those initiatives is to deprive pro-Israel students of having a voice in their student government. Students for Justice in Palestine, an aggressively anti-Israel group, is behind these initiatives.

The UCLA SJP urged the student judicial board to investigate two members of the student government who had traveled to Israel on trips paid for by pro-Israel groups, in an effort to “prove” that the two were biased and should not have been able to vote on a resolution calling for divestment from investments in Israeli companies. The other initiative called on all students who wished to become a part of the student government to first take a pledge that they wouldn’t travel to Israel with the pro-Israel groups.

The UCLA administration’s initial response to the SJP initiatives was to punt.

UCLA encourages a climate of respectful engagement among students, faculty and staff, even in situations that are very difficult, painful and complex,” the statement said. “Student government functions independently, its proceedings proscribed by a constitution that makes available to students and student groups a process to review issues of alleged conflicts of interest. UCLA encourages all involved in this particular process to deliberate in an honest, respectful and inclusive manner.

That’s nice. But given the students were already past being anything close to respectful and inclusive, the pro-Israel groups were hoping the UCLA administration would take another look at the situation and respond with a little more oomph.

The groups did not have long to wait.

On Friday, May 16, the Chancellor of UCLA, Gene D. Block, issued a letter to the UCLA community. In his letter, Block paid homage to the freedom of speech, and explained that because the pledge was not something called for by the university and that no one was required to sign it, the SJP’s drafting and circulating the pledge was an issue of free speech.

But.

Block also clearly explained that just because someone can say something does not mean they should say it. In other words,

just because speech is constitutionally protected doesn’t mean that it is wise, fair or productive. I am troubled that the pledge sought to delegitimize educational trips offered by some organizations but not others. I am troubled that the pledge can reasonably be seen as trying to eliminate selected viewpoints from the discussion. I condemn any remarks on social media or elsewhere that are disrespectful or hurtful.

Political speech that stigmatizes or casts aspersions on individuals or particular groups does not promote healthy debate but debases it by trying to intimidate individuals and groups. It does not strengthen the bonds of mutual respect and engagement that sustain a diverse community able to manage differences; it weakens them. If we shut out perspectives, if we silence voices, if we allow innuendo to substitute for reasoned exchange of ideas, if we listen only to those who already share our assumptions, truth gets lost, our intellectual climate is impoverished and our community is diminished.

Passionate debate is to be expected in a civil society, especially in a heated election season, but I am personally concerned any time people feel disrespected, intimidated or unfairly singled out because of their beliefs. Important issues will generate passions, even discomfort — that cannot be avoided. But if the political debate on campus gets more shrill and less nuanced, if hostility replaces empathy, if we see each other as enemies rather than as colleagues trying to figure out how to do the right thing in difficult circumstances, we will all be the lesser for it. It is possible to express strong opinions without belittling others.

For her part, Janet Napolitano, UC president, issued a statement also on the 16th, essentially joining in with Block’s position. She wrote that while freedom of speech is a highly valued principle, “other principles are also highly valued, including the principles of civility, respect, and inclusion.” Napolitano stated quite directly that the actions of the SJP students and their supporters (Jewish Voice for Peace, amongst others) “violate those principles.”

UCLA student leaders face hearing over Israel trips

Saturday, May 17th, 2014

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — The University of California, Los Angeles student government held a hearing in response to a complaint leveled against two student council members over free trips they took to Israel.

The UCLA chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine brought the complaint against the two former members of the Undergraduate Students Association Council that led to Thursday’s hearing before the USAC’s Judicial Board.

The complaint accused the two students of violating the council’s conflict of interest policy for failing to disclose that they had taken sponsored trips to Israel before a council vote on a divestment resolution targeting Israel.

The Judicial Board has two weeks to decide the case.

The hearing came shortly after SJP and four other pro-Palestinian campus groups urged candidates in student government elections to sign a pledge promising not to accept trips to Israel sponsored by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Anti-Defamation League or Hasbara Fellowships.

The candidates on two of the three major party slates signed the pledge, including the person who went on to be elected student body president.

The complaint before the Judicial Board dates back to a February vote in which the student council voted down a resolution urging the University of California system to divest from several corporations accused of profiting from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The resolution was voted down, 7-5.

Similar resolutions have come up for votes at other campuses in the University of California system with mixed results.

The two former members of the student council, Sunny Singh and Lauren Rogers, defended themselves against charges that they should have abstained from voting on the resolution because each had taken a trip to Israel sponsored by pro-Israel organizations — Singh’s by the ADL, and Rogers’ by the American Jewish Committee. Neither Singh nor Rogers is Jewish.

First Amendment Hypocrisy: Muslims and Israel

Friday, May 16th, 2014

At the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Muslim student leaders and their leftist allies are pressuring candidates for the student senate to pledge that they will not take a sponsored trip to Israel. And those who have taken such trips are being “outed” as Islamophobic.

You can run for the UCLA student senate and travel to any of the countries in the Islamic world where kings and emirs arbitrarily control people’s lives; gays are strung up on construction cranes; women who are raped are further punished for the offense of being a rape victim; the honor killings of women are celebrated, and child slavery flourishes. You can go to any of these regimes where human rights cease to exist and still be fit to be a UCLA student senator. You just can’t go to the Jewish state.

Eager not to offend those who are perpetually offended, a majority of student senate candidates signed on to the pledge, yielding not just their First Amendment rights but also their rights to think and experience for themselves.

On college campuses, you can’t be a champion of human rights that is critical of Islam like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, whose own life is a testimonial to its misogyny. Invited to receive an honorary degree at Brandeis University, Ali’s invitation offended a gaggle of leftist professors and Muslim students, who compelled Brandeis’ cowardly president to rescind the invitation.

Invited to be Rutgers University’s commencement speaker, Condoleezza Rice, one of the world’s most accomplished African American women, was forced to decline because of opposition from Muslim students and leftist faculty.

I attended a Daniel Pipes’ lecture at UC, Berkeley a number of years ago. To get into the lecture, we had to pass through airport-type security. A phalanx of police surrounded the interior of the hall. A safe room had to be set aside for Pipes and an exit strategy had to be created to get to it. The lecture was punctuated with verbal and physical disruption. Pipes had to stop while police ejected the most confrontational protesters.

After the lecture, we had to exit nearly single file through one door. Waiting for us outside was a gamut of Muslim students and their leftist sympathizers, who shouted in our faces and spat at us. We offended them. We dared to avail ourselves of the right to assemble guaranteed us under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

At the University of California, Irvine in 2010, Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s address was loudly interrupted numerous times with personal attacks. He could not continue. The audience was deprived of hearing him. Eleven Muslim students were arrested and convicted for repeatedly disrupting the address.

The benefit of a diverse campus culture is that exposure to different attitudes and behaviors enrich us. But there is no enrichment when a culture, political or religious, arrogates to itself what the rest of us can hear.

Ironically, when it comes to bringing speakers on campus that will denounce America or openly call for the killing of Jews, Muslim student leaders are quick to invoke their First Amendment rights to hate speech as protected speech.

Radical Muslim or leftist speakers can come on campus and say the most offensive things, as is their right. And they will need no phalanx of police to protect them, no insults will be hurled, and no physical intimidation will take place. An escape plan or a safe room will not even be part of the security calculus.

Lurking in the back of the minds of campus administrators over who gets to be heard and who doesn’t is the potential for violence. Through physical intimidation and confrontation, Muslim students and their leftist allies raise the specter of violence while judiciously moving up to the line but only occasionally crossing it. Nonetheless, the prospect of violence often guarantees their right to use the First Amendment while denying it to others.

Pro-Israel Groups Blast SJP for Racism and UCLA for Fecklessness

Friday, May 16th, 2014

Seven staunchly pro-Israel organizations told the California Board of Regents at a hearing on Thursday, May 15, that its failure to stand up to the thuggery and blatant racism of the UCLA Students for Justice in Palestine against pro-Israel students was a failure of leadership and of morality.

What was so egregious that these pro-Israel organizations were protesting?

JUDICIAL BOARD INVESTIGATE STUDENT COUNCIL MEMBERS WHO WENT ON ISRAEL TRIPS

The UCLA-SJP introduced an initiative which calls for a Judicial Board investigation of student council members who have taken trips to Israel sponsored by groups which the SJP deems to have “political agendas that marginalize multiple communities on campus.” The groups on SJP’s hit list are the ADL (Anti-Defamation League), AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and Hasbara Fellowships.

As Dumisani Washington, the Pastor-leader of the Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel, said in his remarks at the hearing Thursday morning, the SJP’s denunciation of pro-Israel groups for having a political agenda is not just hateful, it is hypocritical.

“One wonders exactly what SJP assumes itself to be, if not an organization with a ‘political agenda,’” Washington told the Regents.

STUDENTS MUST TAKE A PLEDGE NOT TO GO ON PRO-ISRAEL SPONSORED TRIPS TO ISRAEL

The second initiative promoted by the SJP to deprive pro-Israel students of a voice in campus discussions was its demand that candidates for student government positions sign a statement pledging that they will not go on any trip to Israel sponsored by the three Jewish organizations.

Washington boldly labeled SJP’s efforts reminiscent of the worst racism in American public life.

SJP’s wanton arrogance and blatant antisemitism in this manner is telling.  I am beyond appalled.  As an African-American, I could only imagine an anti-Black student group attempting to restrict my travel to Ghana or Senegal.  Such gall is reminiscent of the grotesque persecution my people suffered earlier in America’s history, when the US government restricted everything from which schools we could attend to which public restrooms we could use.

The SJP, as everyone knows who closely follows the way the Middle East is discussed on U.S. Campuses, is the most aggressively anti-Israel of any of the many anti-Israel organizations on campuses. The SJP’s antics include the mock eviction notices, “die-ins,” and promotions of virulently anti-Israel speakers and events.  In addition, the SJP, aided by lawyers happy to write intimidating letters to academic institutions, consistently claims that the behavior of its members is protected by free speech, whereas any criticism or objection to their activities is a violation of academic freedom and are constitutional violations.

Sadly, most school administrators and even some Jewish campus professionals are cowed by the lofty-sounding legalese. As a result, the views and sensibilities – and sometimes even the Constitutional rights – of pro-Israel students have been a casualty as administration after administration has caved to the outrageous positions and behaviors engaged in by SJP members.

BROOKLYN COLLEGE SJP THUGGERY

Perhaps the best example of SJP’s stranglehold over the better judgment people expect from university officials was a forum held at Brooklyn College last year. At that event, two promoters of the legal and economic warfare against Israel, the Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel movement, were given free rein at an unbalanced forum which was co-sponsored and co-endorsed by the College’s Political Science Department.

Four pro-Israel Brooklyn College students who came to ask questions were ejected from the event on the say-so of the SJP event organizer, someone who was not even a student and had no affiliation at all with Brooklyn College. The leader claimed the four students were disruptive and disrespectful, and college administration and security personnel did his bidding despite being in the room and knowing full-well, as later proven in audio recordings, that the pro-Israel students were sitting quietly when they were ejected.

UCLA Student Council Rejects Divestment Resolution

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

The UCLA student council rejected on Wednesday a resolution calling for divestment from five American companies that are accused of abusing Palestinian human rights.

The 7-5 vote by the Undergraduate Students Association Council followed nine hours of public comment and was held by secret ballot after one council member reported receiving anonymous threats by email during the all-night meeting.

Brought by Students for Justice in Palestine, the resolution called for divestment from Caterpillar, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, Cemex and Cement Roadstone Holdings — companies that divestment backers said were used by the Israeli military to violate Palestinian human rights in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

While the resolution included a clause declaring it independent from the wider boycott, divestment, sanctions movement, opponents said passing the measure would nonetheless be taken as a victory for pro-BDS groups.

“If you vote yes, that will be taken as an extension of the BDS movement, whether or not you want it to be,” Bruins for Israel President Avinoam Barel told the council members.

Dana Saifan, the president of Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of California, Los Angeles, countered that the resolution should be judged on its own merits.

“As much as this might be construed to meaning other things, this is my human rights,” she said.

Saifan also told the council, “We are not asking for an endorsement of the BDS, we made that incredibly clear. Our community supports Jewish self-determination, we’re saying it — we’re not hiding anything.”

In addition to fears of supporting the BDS movement, several council members said they felt UCLA’s Jewish community had not been sufficiently consulted by Students for Justice in Palestine before the resolution was brought to the council, despite having been notified beforehand.

The UCLA resolution is the latest in a series of divestment proposals throughout the University of California system.

The Undergraduate Students Association does not control the university’s investment portfolio, so the resolution would have served as a recommendation to the Board of Regents, which has stated it will not entertain Israel-related divestment.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/ucla-student-council-rejects-divestment-resolution/2014/02/26/

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