31 Student Groups Call on UCLA to Cancel ‘Students for Justice in Palestine’ Conference

SJP UCLA (Screenshot / Youtube)
Screenshot / Youtube

TEL AVIV – A coalition of 31 student groups has called on UCLA to cancel an event hosted by “hate group” Students for Justice in Palestine for being “violent” and posing a “threat to the physical safety of the Jewish community.”

The student groups wrote that the anti-Israel campus organization has a “history of violence on California campuses.”

SJP “fuels campus anti-Semitism [and] seeks the elimination of the world’s only Jewish-majority country,” the student groups wrote in a letter cited by the Algemeiner.

“According to FBI statistics, Jews are the primary target of religious hate crimes in the United States,” the letter read.

The groups also cited a study by the monitoring group AMCHA Initiative that found that campuses with anti-Israel groups like SJP have more anti-Semitic incidents than campuses that don’t.

“The two phenomena are connected,” the students wrote. “SJP is therefore a threat to the physical safety of the Jewish community.”

They charged SJP with violating UCLA’s Principles of Community, and pointed to events that SJP disrupted by tearing down Israeli flags and chanting for the elimination of the Jewish state in favor of a Palestinian one.

They quoted a member of Stanford University’s chapter of SJP, who threatened to “physically fight zionists on campus.” Despite downplaying the rhetoric by replacing “physically” with “intellectually,” the student later stepped down from his job as a resident assistant.

The students also noted anti-Semitic sentiments shared by Robert Bowers, the perpetrator of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre last month, and urged UCLA to “take the anti-Semitic rhetoric of SJP members seriously.”

“Robert Bowers wrote on social media that ‘Jews are the children of Satan,’” they wrote. “Samer Alhato, one of the many anti-Semites set to speak or attend the conference tweeted, ‘Anyone been to Jerusalem? I hated seeing a bunch of Jews there but other than that it’s a beautiful city.’”

A representative for UCLA told NBC News earlier this week that they will not cancel the two-day conference, slated to begin on Friday.

“As you may have heard, some members of the Jewish community have been sharply critical of [the] upcoming conference, demanding that UCLA move to cancel it,” spokesperson Tod Tamberg said in a statement. “As a public university, UCLA is legally bound to comply with the First Amendment, which protects everyone’s right to express their views, even those that are offensive and hateful or that the university opposes.”

Last week, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously on a resolution calling on UCLA to cancel the SJP conference over concerns that it would promote anti-Semitic views.

The school last month sent a cease-and-desist letter to SJP for using the school’s mascot, the Bruin Bear, for the conference logo. The bear was wearing a keffiyeh scarf, associated with the Palestinian cause, and reaching up toward a kite with the colors of the Palestinian flag and three doves. Incendiary kites and balloons have been flown over the Gaza border into Israel since May as a form of terror and the school did not wish to see their mascot or name associated with a logo that could be interpreted “as an intention to endorse violence against Israel,” the request said.

SJP acquiesced to the request and removed the UCLA name from the logo, but said the school’s “racist and gross mischaracterization of our design ignores the fact that kite-flying is a common pastime in Gaza, and has long been a symbol of freedom for Palestinians.”

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