Pro-Israel students at the University of California, Los Angeles have had to contend with much antagonism since they defeated a typically bigoted anti-Israel resolution in February of 2014. Two pro-Israel members of the student government had sham ethics charges brought against them, and a candidate for the Judicial Board of the Student Council was accused of having a conflict of interest that would make her unsuitable for the position purely on the basis of the fact that she was Jewish. The Legal Insurrection blog reported on additional underhanded tactics that were used by divestment supporters to gain a majority on the student council. After a campaign of intimidation and harassment, the student government passed a resolution in support of divestment from companies that do business with Israel. (The resolution was quickly shot down by the UCLA Chancellor.)
With this background, it’s pretty difficult to take seriously complaints from UCLA’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine over posters displayed around the campus linking SJP to Hamas in Gaza. The posters use well-known and recognizable images of the Hamas government of Gaza to illustrate what those who are against Israel are in fact supporting. SJP’s statement reads
These posters are a clear example of hate speech directed against Students for Justice in Palestine, as well as supporters of Palestinian freedom and equality. They rely on Islamophobic and anti-Arab tropes to paint Palestinians as terrorists and to misrepresent Students for Justice in Palestine as anti-Semitic. It hardly bears repeating that SJP at UCLA is an organization that prides itself on its opposition to all forms of racism and bigotry, and which is open to and promotes the membership of students from all walks of life. . . . Furthermore, defacing school property and intimidating a specific group of students creates a deeply harmful environment that prevents student learning and community-building. Coupled with the recent uprise in Islamophobia on a national scale, we are concerned for the safety of our fellow students and student organizers.
How ironic for SJP, the face of the slanderous BDS movement on college campuses, to complain about hate speech, bigotry, misrepresentations, intimidation, or creating harmful environments. Without hate speech, bigotry, misrepresentations, intimidation, or creating harmful environments, there would be no BDS movement to speak of.
Tulane student and leading pro-Israel campus activist Chloe Simone Valdary’s response on UCLA SJP’s facebook page says it best: “pot. kettle. black. u got served.”
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