Contributed by CAMERA intern Aaron Hunt.
On November 18 last year, the Undergraduate Students Association Council at UCLA passed a resolution that calls for the university to divest from American companies doing business in Israel. The resolution, promoted by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), is part of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement, which openly calls for the destruction of the State of Israel.
The BDS movement’s demands include unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, the end of the Gaza blockade, the dismantlement of Israel’s security walls and fences, and the “right of return” of Palestinians to the properties owned by their ancestors before 1948. Prominent BDS advocates have on numerous occasions expressed support for attacks on Israeli civilians. The BDS vision of a one-state solution would result in the conversion of Israel into an Arab-ruled state, making the Jewish people stateless once again.
In this atmosphere of delegitimization of Israel and even anti-Semitism, Bruins for Israel, an EMET for Israel group and UCLA’s pro-Israel student group, stood strong. The organization boycotted the BDS vote and instead gathered elsewhere on campus, talking to the media and school officials about their opposition to the anti-Semitic resolution. The next day, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block condemned the symbolic resolution. Local and national media reported on the resolution and Jewish UCLA students’ struggle to be heard by their fellow students.
Despite media and official support for UCLA’s Jewish students, UCLA SJP was undeterred and continued their efforts to marginalize Jewish students. On February 10, the UCLA Student Council initially voted 4-4 on whether to confirm sophomore Rachel Beyda’s nomination to the council’s Judicial Board. The four judicial board members who voted against Beyda’s confirmation were all SJP members and all voiced concerns that Beyda wouldn’t be impartial because she was Jewish.
Though campus BDS groups continue their campaign against Jewish and pro-Israel students, Bruins for Israel have continued their efforts to educate students about Israel and counter SJP vitriol. On February 19, thanks to CAMERA’s help, they were able to hold a fundraiser for Save a Child’s Heart, an Israeli nonprofit that performs cardiac surgery on children with congenital heart defects. The organization has saved the lives of thousands of children from Gaza, the West Bank, and dozens of poor countries in the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Africa. The event not only raised money for a good cause but also humanized Israel by showcasing the country’s humanitarian efforts.