Groups Condemn BDS Intimidation at UCLA

UCLA-shout-fightingBDS-770x400A coalition of groups concerned about the turn of events at UCLA condemned the UCLA chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) for harassing and intimidating pro-Israel students on campus.

The SJP recently caused waves on campus by demanding candidates for student council sign a pledge not to take trips sponsored by certain pro-Israel organizations if elected. The pledge was slammed by UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and the President of the University of California system Janet Napolitano.

That wasn’t the end of SJP’s attempts to intimidate students with ties to pro-Israel groups on campus. SJP also brought a formal complaint against two students in the outgoing council who had taken such trips in the past, claiming the Israel trips constituted a conflict of interest for the students when they voted on a measure to divest from Israel. The measure failed by a vote of 7-5.

According to the joint statement:

This is an outrageous and impermissible violation of students’ right to free expression, their right to free association, and their fundamental right to travel and move freely.  The SJP cannot be permitted to infringe on any student’s personal liberties and freedoms, or to bully students into not associating with certain Jewish groups that are dedicated to building love and support for Israel.

The SJP’s motive is clear:  to manipulate the composition of the student government so that it is filled with anti-Israel activists who support the SJP’s hateful agenda.  This is the SJP’s latest effort to harass, intimidate and bully pro-Israel Jewish students.  The group’s shenanigans plainly follow from the SJP’s failed attempt to get the student government to endorse an anti-Israel divestment resolution last February

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The statement was signed by the AMCHA Initiative, Institute for Black Solidarity With Israel, The Lawfare Project, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Simon Wiesenthal Center Campus Outreach, Stand With Us, and the Zionist Organization of America.

Why is the activity at UCLA so important to the fight against BDS? According to the Legal Insurrection blog, pro-BDS students at UCLA are testing out tactics that might then be adopted elsewhere.

SJP is building a chilling effect, showing that those who stand in their way will be subject to long hours of debate, protest, and even “legal” hearings.  Some may not agree with SJP, but consider it not worth the trouble to stand in their way.

This new tactic has already set a dangerous political precedent nationwide, but if the judicial board rules in favor of SJP, the ruling with have impacts far beyond UCLA.  Scrappy underdogs that they claim to be, SJP is well-organized and well-connected to the Palestinian cause as a whole, and whatever succeeds at UCLA may be replicated nationwide.  Politically, they already have a win to point to, but a judicial board win will embolden them to bring the campus lawfare show on the road.

Image: CC BY-SA flickr/jmrosenfeld,

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