Two weeks ago, a resolution against anti-Semitism was passed by a 12-0-0 vote of the UCLA student council as a response to recent anti-Semitic incidents that had been occurring at UCLA and other UC campuses. Among the most newsworthy was that of UCLA sophomore Rachel Beyda, who was potentially denied a position to the judicial board for being Jewish. As the pro-Hamas, anti-Israel student group Students for Justice in Palestine gains momentum at UCLA, many critics have held SJP accountable for these anti-Semitic incidents.
As a response to criticism of SJP, SJP at UCLA president Omar Zahzah and active SJP member Rahim Kurwa submitted an Op-Ed to the Daily Bruin defending SJP at UCLA as not anti-Semitic.
Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA would like to correct some mischaracterizations about our organization that have surfaced in campus discourse and the work of outside publications reporting on internal student government issues, specifically in regards to the offensive Judicial Board interview of Rachel Beyda. Some individuals, both from the outside media and within the UCLA campus, have suggested that SJP may have been involved with this incident, and while we have already made this point, we are once again writing to explicitly clarify that SJP was not involved in, had no knowledge of, and would not support the questioning of Beyda or anyone else based on their identity.
The four USAC representatives who had engaged in anti-Semitic debate regarding Beyda’s Jewish affiliations, Negeen Sadeghi-Movahed, Sofia Moreno Haq, Fabienne Roth, and Manjot Singh, are active SJP members who were instrumental in passing the anti-Israel BDS resolution with USAC just last November. The questioning of Beyda surrounded a “conflict of interest” in which her identity as a Jew would lead her to defend Israel in future decisions made USAC. Similar allegations have been made by SJP members last May, who filed a complaint against two USAC members for having traveled to Israel on sponsored trips. Based on these complaints, former USAC reps Sunny Singh and Lauren Rogers were brought into question by UCLA student court regarding biases that might have caused them to vote against the failed divestment resolution last year.
Zahzah and Kurwa defend SJP as an ‘organization opposed to discrimination,’
All of this goes to show that support for Palestinian equality and opposition to all forms of bigotry, including anti-Semitism, are compatible positions. As we have stated time and time again, SJP is an organization opposed to discrimination. We believe in the inherent equality and right to freedom for all people, a stance that inspires us to both support the Palestinian call for BDS as well as to oppose incidents like that which befell Beyda.
Zahzah and Kurwa fail to mention how toxic the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement is for world peace and racial bias on university campuses. Furthermore, Zahzah and Kurwa have proved themselves less than credible on the topic of discrimination. Racial slurs are common in Zahzah’s everyday language, as evident by his frequent twitter posts against whites.
Kurwa is no stranger to discrimination and bigotry. Former Hillel at UCLA president Tammy Rubin has discussed SJP’s and Kurwa’s affiliations with off-campus groups known for extreme acts of terror and human rights violations:
Kurwa’s history is deeply concerning as well. In 2012, he was a member of the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) National Leadership, which organized SJP’s National Conference that year. One of the speakers was Khader Adnan, of the terrorist organizationPalestinian Islamic Jihad. They were undeterred by the fact that Adnan had previously incited suicide bombings against Israelis. Kurwa even promoted Adnan’s speech at SJP’s National Conference on social media.
To stage their national conferences, Kurwa and SJP’s leadership use money from an off-campus organization called American Muslims for Palestine. This is deeply problematic, because AMP leaders and speakers have engaged in a variety of extremism and bigotry, including homophobia, support for terrorism and genocide denial. One of AMP’s past keynote speakers publicly defended the 9/11 attacks and another denies the fact that Sudan committed genocide against Africans in Darfur. AMP employees have ledtraining sessions for SJP at UCLA and lobbied student governments across the UCs, including the UCSA.
The troubling associations do not end there. In December 2014, Kurwa flew to Spain to speak about Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions at an international conference. He shared a panel with Mahmoud Nawajaa, the general coordinator of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, despite the fact that Nawajaa publicly supports Hamas on social media. The BNC leads the BDS movement against Israel, and has been directly involved in campus divestment campaigns in California.
This is of particular concern because one of the leading groups in the BNC is the Council of National and Islamic Forces, a coalition that includes the racist terrorist organization Hamas. Kurwa should disclose the extent he coordinates with the leadership of the global BDS movement against Israel.
SJP at UCLA continues to breed anti-Semitism through lies and false propaganda against Israel while openly supporting terrorist groups and serial murderers. SJP founder and radical pro-Hamas leader Hatem Bazian recently called for an intifada uprising in the United States. The most appalling issue is that these radical leaders and SJP followers are still being allowed to propagandize as a legitimized student group on college campuses while promoting double standards for terror.