Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of California Irvine have been suspended from operating for the next two academic years.
This significant decision, made by UC Irvine, comes after SJP interrupted an event held by Reservists on Duty (ROD) in conjunction with Students Supporting Israel, and yelled horrifying chants at the nonprofit Israeli organization, made up of reserve combat IDF soldiers dedicated to sharing their experiences and educating students about Israel on US campuses.
In a coordinated effort between SSI National, ROD, and several other organizations who took part, including CAMERA, Hasbara Fellowships, the Louis D. Brandeis Center, Hillel International, Amcha Initiative, the Zionist Organization of America, Hasbara Fellowships and StandWithUs, massive pressure was applied to UC Irvine to act.
ROD’s event was held during SJP’s “Apartheid Week” to counter the lies being spread by the anti-Israel hate group on campus. ROD was also present on campus throughout the week to further their mission.
Jonathan Elkhoury, who tours with CAMERA, was a part of a five person ROD delegation consisting of three lone soldier reservists, a Bedouin IDF reserve soldier and himself. The delegation was present on campus throughout the hate week. “We came to facilitate dialogue in order to share with people our experiences as former IDF soldiers, national service volunteers and minorities who are living in Israel,” he says.
Elkhoury says hateful slogans such as “Go back to Europe!”, “Intifada Intifada!”, “Long live the Intifada!”, “Hey white girl/Hey white boy, how many people have you killed today?” were yelled at the delegation, in addition to other threatening chants that could be heard over and over again throughout the week.
On May 10th, Reservists on Duty held an event on campus. At the event, “SJP members started yelling, chanting and making the audience leave and interrupting them from asking questions,” he says. At one point, the police were called.
Recounting the horrific behavior shown by SJP, Elkhoury recalls just how bad it was. “We were yelled and cursed at, and one of our female delegation participants was spat on by an SJP member. They came to our event to shut it down, an SJP representative said it herself while yelling into a microphone the next day. We had to have them escort us off campus because the SJP students made it impossible for us to leave the class safely.”
Thanks to this video recording of the event by ROD members, there was ample evidence against SJP for UC Irvine to review.
UC Irvine rightly determined that SJP’s interruption violated university policy after a lengthy review process. Below is a section of the university’s statement:
“Based on the review, it was determined that a group of individuals organized by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) disrupted a portion of the question-and-answer period, in violation of university policy. As a result, SJP was sanctioned with disciplinary probation for two academic years, ending June 16, 2019. During this time, the organization must abide by UCI’s standards of conduct, meet with the Dean of Students six times per year to discuss free speech issues, and consult with a representative of the dean’s office before hosting or co-hosting any campus event. Any further violations of university policy may result in suspension or a revocation of the organization’s status.
SJP leaders were notified of the decision on August 22, 2017, and filed an appeal on August 31, 2017. The appeal process is expected to take several weeks. The Dean of Students or his designee will consider the appeal and make a final decision, which can be to affirm, modify or reverse the sanction. The outcome of the appeal is final.”
Elkhoury is satisfied with UC Irvine’s decision. “UC Irvine’s decision is a successful win for free speech. We can’t keep silent while we are misrepresented, bullied and shut down by extremists that are motivated by hate and antisemitism. I hope this decision will send a clear message to SJP chapters across the US that the days of bullying and shutting down Israel events and speakers are over. We are here to stay and spread the truth.”
It’s also worth noting that the statement includes that, “Any further violations of university policy may result in suspension or a revocation of the organization’s status,” which begs the question of how SJP will continue to operate after its two year probation period is over without using its violent disruption tactics.
Contributed by Lia Lands, Campus Communications for CAMERA