Last night, TruthRevolt student activists at UCLA stood up against the anti-Semitic hate group Students for Justice in Palestine, despite a series of underhanded attacks as well as public condemnation and harassment by supposedly pro-Israel members of the community who militantly worked to avoid confrontation with SJP.
This week is SJP’s incredibly demeaning and openly anti-Semitic Palestinian Apartheid Week, which attacks the state of Israel and falsely advertises that it supports human rights. As soon as TruthRevolt activists planned the event, a wave of overwhelming support came to them from the pro-Israel student body at UCLA. Students expressed their excitement to take action against SJP’s resolution to boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) Israeli companies and collaborators.
This was, of course, to the dismay of supposedly pro-Israel organizational leaders on campus, who spent long hours making phone calls, texts, and web messages pressuring students to not take action against SJP. These pro-Israel leaders had spent the day harassing me and other students to cancel the event, because it had not been organized with their approval. The parochial need to control all pro-Israel response by those too tepid to do anything drove this pathetic campaign. The result: many pro-Israel students backed out from attending the event, despite RSVPing.
Nonetheless, a small crowd of allies joined to show their support, representing people of all ethnicities and backgrounds. The students silently appeared at the campus holding signs with messages such as, “78% IRAQIS SUPPORT HONOR KILLINGS OF WOMEN—SJP DOESN’T CARE,” “HAMAS USES CHILDREN AS HUMAN SHIELDS—SJP DOESN’T CARE,” and “ISIS MURDERS CHRISTIANS, JEWS, AND MUSLIMS—SJP DOESN’T CARE.” These messages served to point out the hypocrisy of SJP’s stance on human rights. In a region filled with fascism, brutality, and injustice, SJP chooses to specifically attack Israel, the only democracy and staunch ally of the U.S.
Sadly, that stance was too extreme for the weak-kneed members of UCLA’s supposedly pro-Israel community, who announced before our event that they would do nothing to counter SJP. Bruins for Israel, for example, issued a letter to their entire email list Thursday afternoon explaining, “This past week marked Palestine Awareness Week on our campus. The Bruins for Israel board met weeks in advance to discuss the best course of action. Ultimately, we decided that no response was the best response.” Because passivity in the face of evil is proper, apparently.
But it turns out that they do have a response: to reach out to anti-Israel groups on campus to work with them:
Since the beginning of the year and in the upcoming weeks, Bruins for Israel in conjunction with different student groups, has and will continue to organize teach-ins to educate the UCLA community about the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian narrative. Rather than presenting our histories and stories as conflicting and incompatible, we hope to unite students on campus around a shared narrative, to recognize mutual struggle and to work towards more positive, effective solutions on campus.
It wasn’t enough for these groups to surrender to SJP. Members of these groups then proceeded to contact the students who had RSVPed for our event to tell them that our event had been cancelled. This was idiocy, given that last time the supposedly pro-Israel community prevailed in stifling a TruthRevolt student activist event at Berkeley, all in the name of “getting along with the other side,” SJP followed up by openly calling for the murder of Jews.
Last night was encouraging because it demonstrated that many students do care about Israel, and want to fight against those who would threaten its existence. It was discouraging because so many who were supposed to oppose SJP instead opposed us for standing up for Israel, afraid of offending the bad guys and confronting the Jew-haters.