The entrance of UCLA. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
Student government representatives at the University of California, Los Angeles, passed a resolution on Tuesday rejecting “misinformation” against the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) group — including claims that it promoted antisemitic content, UCLA’s student-run Jewish newspaper Ha’Am News reported.
The resolution focused on condemning the Canary Mission website, which lists students and faculty members that promote the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, as well as materials distributed by the David Horowitz Freedom Center against campus groups, including SJP and the Muslim Students Association.
More controversially to some students, the resolution also included language criticizing UCLA Chancellor Gene Block for issuing “marginalizing statements” about SJP — namely, a 2018 op-ed he published expressing disagreement with the group and the BDS campaign that it supported.
Block also made claims in the op-ed “that allude to the content of SJP’s national conference as being anti-Semitic without evidence to support those claims, ostracizing and stigmatizing the conference and attendees,” the resolution maintained.
SJP’s national conference was hosted at UCLA this November, with conference organizers calling for Zionism — a movement that recognizes the Jewish people’s right to national self-determination — to “be destroyed.” The group’s UCLA chapter was involved in the forceful disruption of an event held by the school’s Students Supporting Israel (SSI) group last May.
“The accusations of antisemitism made against SJP came after confirmed speakers to their 2018 national conference had written tweets which asked former President Barack Obama to ‘just go kill all the Jews’ and others which made jokes about the Holocaust,” Ha’Am noted.
Of the nine members of the Undergraduate Students Association Council who voted to adopt the resolution on Tuesday, eight did not identify as Jews, according to Ha’Am. The only dissenting vote was from the Council’s lone Jewish member, Tara Steinmetz, who cautioned against “using the term Zionism to demonize some.”
“We had a Jewish student who ran out of class this week sobbing because she was demonized for her own identity,” she said.
“Some at the meeting were trying to define Zionism as a dirty word,” Steinmetz explained to Ha’Am. “They use rhetoric that renders them only ‘okay’ with the small minority of Jews who disavow Israel, ignoring the fact that Israel is quite often an inherent part of many Jewish students’ identities. It’s not okay for them to try to be an authority who is a ‘good’ Jew and who is a ‘bad’ Jew.”
Some other Jewish students who attended the meeting also shared their objections, with SSI President Justin Feldman noting, “The antisemitism that you are referencing and denying in this resolution is widely condemned by everyone from the chancellors of all UC campuses to, most recently, the German parliament.”
His comments referenced a December statement issued by UC chancellors, which rejected the BDS’s campaign’s call for academic boycotts of Israel, and a recent resolution passedin the German parliament recognizing BDS as antisemitic — a stance shared by major Jewish groups in the United States and Europe.