On 17 May 2018, hate terrorized the students of UCLA. Students for “Justice” in Palestine, a well-known hate group with a disturbing record of violence and extremism, conspired to increase the marginalization of already-vanishing Middle Eastern minorities.
UCLA should have been a forum to highlight Middle Eastern peoples who thrive after surviving their attempted destruction: Armenian, Jews, and Kurds. The idea was straightforward enough. It was a cultural-educational event open to UCLA students. Education should, after all, draw attention to the status of vulnerable Middle Eastern minorities — especially in light of the recent 2014 Yazidi genocide.
That day, instead of offering empathy and solidarity to indigenous peoples, SJP brought intimidation, genocidal slogans, vandalism, and staged dancing. In other words, just Charlottesville with so-so choreography.
SJP members, few of them students, did what they had planned to all along and forcefully silenced already-vulnerable students. SJP’s open hostility to marginalized communities just demonstrates that they’re a dangerous hate group with no answers beyond oppression, exploiting real Palestinians’ plight, and displaying their own ignorance.
How did UCLA’s administration react? Not by denouncing hate and violence, or holding the aggressors accountable, but by rewarding SJP with a platform for their national conference, despite repeated pleas by students not to normalize antisemitism. Keeping this disgusting conference away from your campus should be a no-brainer. Universities are supposed to be a safe space for students of all backgrounds to learn without fear. Do students at least get security protection from the attendees?
UCLA’s handling of racism on campus falls short of what students deserve. This is the biggest gathering of a hate group since last August, when a horde of neo-Nazis descended on the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, tiki torches in hand, chanting “Jews will not replace us”, beating anti-fascists, claiming the life of counter-protester Heather Heyer in the process as she was run over by a neo-Nazi. UCLA should take hate more seriously and deny the bigots another opportunity to intimidate. That starts with either calling off this conference or forbidding them from enforcing closed registration on school property, which constitutes discrimination by effectively preventing Jews from attending the conference — in flagrant violation of University of California system regulations.
We in Florida aren’t immune. Recently, the USF chapter of the hate group re-erected their “apartheid wall” to intimidate Jewish and pro-Israel students, simultaneously urging their equally racist partners to harass Mayor and gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum for his principled opposition to the antisemitic BDS campaign. Thank you, Mayor Gillum.
SJP at FSU’s Facebook page openly salivates at the idea of “one anti-Zionist state” — in other words the violent destruction of Israel and the expulsion of the country’s Jews — and lionizes as revolutionary the views of Leila Khaled, a terrorist known for her fondness of hijacking airplanes and segregating passengers based on perceived Jewish heritage. Stop the presses: segregation is revolutionary now.
Philosophically, SJP’s platform is profoundly wrong and impedes coexistence. The word ‘justice’ doesn’t mean what they think it means. Justice doesn’t mean hijacking narratives and abusing them to delegitimize Jewish causes, it means the emancipation of all peoples. No one truly committed to justice harms marginalized people or makes Jewish students feel unsafe.
Palestinian rights are one thing, but when extremists cross a clear line to violently challenging my people’s right to self-determination, that joins SJP in an alliance with white supremacist goals. They know nothing about Middle Eastern history and they don’t want to know. President Barack Obama once said, “When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk.” That’s wise advice, but there is no ignoring people who attack our communities. SJP went beyond the point of no return long ago, from a bad joke to a menace.
SJP’s members have absolutely no right to enforce an echo chamber and isolate Jews, and we refuse to play by their terms while they declare guerrilla war against liberation everywhere and broadcast that they intend to use any means necessary to arrest our rights, just as they’ve done at UCLA. A people with a history as marked by injustices as ours have a right to be heard. With SJP directing the campus atmosphere, however, democratic norms will only be eroded and anyone worthy of being heard will only be silenced while totalitarian tendencies are broadcasted through a loudspeaker. That’s not right. When Jews are silenced, everyone is potentially silenced. When some of us are threatened, all of us are threatened.
The Jewish people want nothing more than our legitimate right to self-determination. Attacks on Zionism, the Jewish people’s national liberation movement, won’t be tolerated. We won’t tolerate threats to destroy our homeland, nor can others define our oppression for us. Antisemitism is discrimination against Jews. Saying that only Jews lack a right to self-determination, a right which is normative to everyone else in the world is antisemitism.
Intolerance needs to be challenged to its face. When SJP’s horrendous doctrine that Israel should be destroyed goes unchallenged, it normalizes racism against all of us, so normalization of SJP should be the red line. Hate groups aren’t legitimate clubs, they’re just that. No conference. No tabling. No free reign to intimidate. The time to save freedom is now. UCLA and universities all over should reject SJP’s hate and choose coexistence.
This evil organization has a reputation for parroting Nazi rhetoric and conspiracy theories as part of their mission to make Jewish students miserable, and UCLA are now helping them, but they’ll never succeed in concealing their horrendous agenda, and we’ll never surrender. Enough is enough. Basta. Maspik.
Contributed by Florida International University CAMERA Fellow Cole Maddox. He is the Education Chair of CAMERA-supported group Shalom FIU. Originally published at the Beacon