On Tuesday May 21, at UCLA’s World-In-Sight fair, a festival meant to expose UCLA students to the globe’s diverse cultures, the Empowered Arab Sisterhood (EAS) disseminated maps asking students to “Find All The Middle Eastern Countries”. The EAS listed 17 countries among the list of Middle Eastern states to choose from (including Palestine) but conspicuously omitted the State of Israel.
Today, the Executive Committee of The Third Narrative’s Academic Advisory Council (AAC), a North American network of liberal and progressive scholars and academics, released a statement addressing the campaign at UCLA to blacklist students who participate in certain Israel travel programs from serving in student government.
UC President Janet Napolitano made the following statement today (May 16) following UCLA Chancellor Gene Block’s message about the importance of civil discourse:
“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. At the University of California, freedom of speech is a highly valued principle. Yet, other principles are also highly valued, including the principles of civility, respect, and inclusion, and should also govern our campuses. The actions of these students at UCLA violate these principles.
“I encourage members of the university community, at both UCLA and at the other nine campuses at this great education institution, to come together, in open dialogue, to discuss the great issues of our day, learn from each other, and work to move our society forward. Harmful, hurtful speech by some hurts us all. We must work to ‘heed the better angels of our nature,’ as Abraham Lincoln said. That is what the University of California really stands for.”
Over the past week, many of our students, as well as friends off campus, have communicated their concerns over a pledge that candidates for our student government were asked to sign prior to last week’s elections. Heated exchanges have occurred over the issue and have unfortunately left some feeling disrespected or targeted because of their views or affiliations.
Over the past several weeks, we have witnessed the emergence of a troubling double standard targeting Jewish and pro-Israel students and organizations. While cloaked in the language of “ethics,” “marginalization” and “human rights,” this initiative is actually about denying our narrative and represents a frontal assault on dialogue, education and constitutionally protected rights.
Last week, a member of Students for Justice in Palestine published an op-ed in the Daily Bruin titled “Daily Bruin should have disclosed authors’ link to Hasbara.” This frivolous attempt to taint our image, undermine our integrity and portray us as incapable of forming our own opinions is just one example of the radical and hurtful accusations that have been made about members of the Bruin community after the Undergraduate Students Association Council rejected a resolution to divest from five companies.
UCLA SJP’s attempt to invalidate South African Parliament Member Kenneth Meshoe’s vocal opposition to the apartheid slander against Israel is offensive and systematically misleading in several respects.
After a meeting that lasted until dawn Wednesday, the UCLA undergraduate student government voted against a measure that would have urged the UC system to sell off stocks of companies that do business with the Israeli military and profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.
At 7 p.m. Tuesday, the Undergraduate Students Association Council will be debating a resolution calling for divestment from five companies that have contracts with the Israeli government. We find this resolution misleading and offensive, and urge all of our fellow students to join us in opposition to it.
On Jan. 15, I subjected myself to a tirade of anti-Israel fulminations by BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti. I went to hear him deliver a speech to UCLA students, out of a sense of obligation to the Jewish students whom I serve. I always feel that I must be present when a threatening speaker comes to campus. But given the claims of our local Palestinian students that BDS means only a boycott of the major Western corporations that are implicated in sustaining the West Bank occupation (e.g., Caterpillar) and the fact that many maintain that BDS is a legitimate nonviolent way of protesting Israeli “oppression,” I was also curious to learn how this popular campaign was being promoted.