Tuesday, September 19

Submission: Hate speech after divestment resolution only furthers divide


Last week, a member of Students for Justice in Palestine published an op-ed in the Daily Bruin titled “Daily Bruin should have disclosed authors’ link to Hasbara.” This frivolous attempt to taint our image, undermine our integrity and portray us as incapable of forming our own opinions is just one example of the radical and hurtful accusations that have been made about members of the Bruin community after the Undergraduate Students Association Council rejected a resolution to divest from five companies.

At the USAC meeting on Feb. 25, lies and distortions of fact through emotionally charged hate speech manipulated the public perception of the Jewish homeland. Beyond the hateful rhetoric continuously spoken at council against Israel, this resolution created a destructive divide in our campus, and it is for this reason that many Jewish students on campus believe it has no place in the UCLA community. We, the Jewish community, condemn hate acts against any community, and do not support any form of bullying. SJP at UCLA intentionally brought forward a resolution that it knew would be divisive after denying pro-Israel students the opportunity to be included in drafting an agreeable one together. For this reason, members of SJP should be held responsible for the cyberbullying toward both the Jewish community and council members that voted against the resolution. Some council members feel uncomfortable simply walking on campus because of the hate mail they received.

The leaders of the Jewish community held themselves to an extremely high standard following the meeting. After the resolution did not pass, we all walked out silently, avoided abusive tones and spiteful attacks on social media, and tried to move forward as a community.

Nevertheless, the hate speech against the Jewish community continues on social media, criticizing the Jewish community for being “racists” and “bigots.” A bingo game was created, mocking the arguments used by the students against divestment as well as mocking efforts by the Jewish community toward productive dialogue. The game contained squares labeled “dialogue” and “why can’t we be friends,belittling efforts aimed at advancing positive discourse. Hateful posts such as these are destructive and should not be tolerated on campus. We do believe there is a place for legitimate criticism of Israel, but these tactics embraced by SJP members are racist and dehumanizing.

Recently, the UCLA Muslim Student Association released a statement claiming members of the pro-Israel community used Islamophobic rhetoric as part of the “anti-divestment resolution agenda.” To be clear, the pro-Israel community’s sole agenda was to stand firmly against the bigoted boycott, divestment and sanctions movement that aims to attack the Jewish right to self-determination in their homeland. As stated in the Bruins Against BDS presentation directly after public comment, we condemn statements that conflate Palestinian and Muslim identities, as well as the labeling of these groups as “terrorists.”

I am infuriated that the current condition of campus climate is being blamed on the Jewish community. We are being held responsible for the aftermath of a resolution my community never brought forward.

As in many points throughout history, the Jews are being used as the scapegoats. Rather than dealing with their frustrations as a result of the failure of the resolution, members of SJP continue to target their anger at the Jewish community. For example, a collage of images mocking our community’s arguments against the resolution was created by a board member of SJP and posted on Facebook under the title “Divestment Collage.” This coping mechanism is highly offensive and insensitive to the concerns of the Jewish community.

It is imperative that these issues get addressed, but placing the blame entirely on the Jewish community will not positively advance the campus climate. The outcome of this resolution caused both sides to retreat back to their respective communities, furthering the divide between each other. We should stop the hatred, the passive-aggressiveness and the attacks on both communities. We do not want to feel marginalized; we do not want one side to feel victory at the expense of the other. UCLA is known for being at the forefront of innovation and this situation should be no different. We can be the first campus to eschew the BDS movement in favor of a completely new movement. We need to be true leaders and come together to push an entirely new and justified approach. Through collaboration and communication, we can begin to move away from polarizing debate and toward productive dialogue.

Eshaghian is a fourth-year psychobiology student and president of Bruins for Israel.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Share on Reddit

Comments are supposed to create a forum for thoughtful, respectful community discussion. Please be nice. View our full comments policy here.

  • Wait A Minute

    The blame is not on Jews because as many of us saw at Divestment, MANY Jews were PRO-DIVESTMENT. I am sorry, but this whole playing the victim game has to stop. Both sides are negatively impacted by what occurred. I hate hearing that one side felt more upset than the other or felt marginalized because BOTH were negatively impacted. I also do not appreciate that people go after SJP the way that they do. Many talk negatively about SJP, but when over 20 diverse organizations on campus support the group, it is obvious that there is a bigger issue and that those who support what SJP stands for are anything but “MISTAKEN”….

    “Jews are becoming scapegoats…” REALLY? Just, stop. During Divestment, no one attacked Judaism; however, countless individuals from BFI spoke negatively about Islam when the reality is that NOT ALL PALESTINIANS ARE MUSLIM IN THE FIRST PLACE, SO WHY MAKE THIS A RELIGIOUS ISSUE WHEN IT IS NOT ABOUT RELIGION, IT IS ABOUT HUMAN. RIGHTS.

    Oh and in regards to UCLA being the leader of innovation, that is not true because if that were the case, we would already have a diversity requirement instilled on campus, but no, we don’t.

    • David

      1) UCLA’s status as a leader of innovation (as marked by UCLA’s vast contributions to medicine, engineering, the humanities, etc.) should be discounted because the college has not instituted a “diversity requirement”? I strongly disagree–UCLA is a hotbed of innovation (as is Israel).

      2) An attack on the Jews does not necessarily involve an attack on Judaism, or even mention of Judaism, as a religion. We’ve seen this throughout history. The Jews have definitely been singled out (see the end of MSA’s recent statement specifically singling out Hillel and BFI), and not necessarily on the basis of their Judaism.

      • Common Sense

        SJP is associated with the Muslims Students Association. MSA is a front for the terrorist organization Hamas and it is a front for CAIR, an organization that was named as a co-conspirator in the Holy Land terrorist funding trials.

        MSA and SJP need to be investigated for terrorist ties and funding from terrorist groups. We need to investigate the officers at both organizations for terrorist ties.

        • Wait A Minute

          MSA is NOT a terrorist organization. Sounds like you NEED some common sense and if anything, you just showed why we need a diversity requirement. THANK YOU :)

          • Common Sense

            I have an opinion and you believe you should force my opinion to be your opinion. Inside every liberal, is a screaming totalitarian.

      • Wait A Minute

        1) You’re absolutely right. We are leaders in innovation, yet when it comes to diversity which is something that sounds soo simple, we fail. We cannot even let diverse organizations on campus feel comfortable in speaking out on issues they believe in which again, goes back to Divestment. How is it that over 20 ORGANIZATIONS (DIVERSE ONES AT THAT) all came together and agreed on an issue and they still are considered “mistaken”? That is UNACCEPTABLE.

        2. Jews have been attacked over the course of history and so have Muslims and other groups. Just turn on your TV. Stop making it seem that one community struggles more than the other because that is not the case. Also, MSA was simply showing who supported their cause to make a statement of the support they received from so many diverse organizations and showing those that did not. Students have a right to know who did and who did not support the issue at hand. If the Jewish community feels singled out, it is not because of MSA in particular. It is because it was clear that at Divestment the majority of the Jewish community was against Divestment and students saw it and heard it on their own. If the Jewish community feels uncomfortable, then maybe they should rethink the decision they made because again, over 20 organizations already knew who was against Divestment.

        Once again, and yes I am saying this again, IF OVER 20 DIVERSE ORGANIZATIONS CAME TOGETHER TO TAKE A STANCE ON AN ISSUE AND ALL AGREED ON WHAT SIDE THEY WERE ON AND WERE SHUT DOWN BY THEIR STUDENT GOVERNMENT, WE AS A UNIVERSITY SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF OURSELVES BECAUSE THIS WHOLE “CAMPUS CLIMATE” ISSUE IS OBVIOUSLY OF NO IMPORTANCE BECAUSE IF THESE ORGANIZATIONS ARE NOT HEARD WHEN IT COMES TO AN ISSUE SUCH AS THIS, HOW WILL WE EVER FEEL COMFORTABLE TAKING STANCES ON ISSUES?

        So, AGAIN, stop making it seem that the Jewish community is going through more struggle than other communities on campus because let me tell you, it is GETTING OLD AND NO ONE FEELS PITY.

        • Just A Student

          Why is it that you care so much about a diversity requirement for the purposes of people understanding and appreciating others from different backgrounds, yet when it come to the Jewish community you try to delegitimize their struggle?

          As far as the MSA statement, it’s one thing to include a list of organizations who sign onto it and a very different thing to specifically target the Jewish and pro-Israel community by listing ONLY them as organizations who didn’t sign onto the statement, and then following it up by basically dismissing the reasoning given for not signing onto it.

          Finally, I don’t think the Jewish community is “uncomfortable” because of “the decision they made,” (rather they are certainly proud of it) but because others are singling them out and attempting to delegitimize their stance by mocking their viewpoints. Meanwhile, there were false information and straight up lies being perpetuated, or unwittingly supported, by members of these 20+ organizations, who took a stance on an issue that falls outside of the typical realm of many of such organizations’ focuses, one which I doubt they properly researched before such conclusions were made. And now that it failed, those who supported divestment are irately throwing figurative tantrums, only making a tense campus climate worse, instead of stopping to ask and truly learn why the Jewish community is so vehemently against divestment. And I’m not talking about SJP or any other Palestinian organizations, but about all the organizations who supported the resolution out of “solidarity.”

        • David

          I don’t think we “fail” at diversity…take a look around campus. If you are upset because other people are ignorant or simply have opinions you don’t agree with, then educate people and have discussions.

          Having 20 organizations agree on divestment doesn’t make it right. Many people agreed with slavery, as well as discriminatory practices in the South. Did the sheer amount of people supporting those things make them “right”? (The answer is no.)

          These 20 organizations signed their names onto a bigoted and hate-filled movement (BDS). Just because such a large and diverse group of people have chosen to single out Israel (without even allowing for a legitimate discussion by subscribing to anti-Israel rhetoric and assisting in the propagation of hate speech) does not make it okay. What’s “unacceptable” is that most of these student groups made no effort to understand why the majority of Jewish students at UCLA opposed BDS.

          I would argue that the Jews are not trying to make their “struggles seem more significant” than any other group on campus. In fact, many other groups seem to be significantly more vocal, in general.

          Your extensive use of capitalization, while impressive, does not close up the holes in your arguments. Let’s stop the finger-pointing and hateful rhetoric and have discussions based on facts and history before we start making rash decisions (like trying to divest specifically from companies that do business with Israel–a strategy that is inseparable from the bigotry and hatred of the BDS movement).

  • Nonebody

    “SJP should be held responsible for the cyberbullying toward both the Jewish community and council members that voted against the resolution.”

    What about the cyberbullying of the council members who voted in favor of the bill? What about the threats and intimidation they received prior to the hearing? Of course, no one from the ant-divestment camp would ever stoop to such levels. They’re proud leaders of the UCLA community. Give me a break.

    Also, “We, the Jewish community?” You and your organizations need to stop claiming to speak on behalf of all Jews, because their are plenty of Jewish and Israeli students on this campus, and individuals outside, who do not agree with your ideas.

    • Elon

      From my understanding, all council members have been bullied, as well as a scribe. But Miriam was one of the first to speak out against the threats those on the other side received. You are blaming the wrong woman.

    • Just A Student

      You do realize that the rest of that “We, the Jewish community” sentence you just quote goes: “We, the Jewish community, condemn hate acts against any community, and do not support any form of bullying.” Please, stop trying to find things to be incensed by when there aren’t any. Besides, who better to speak on behalf of the Jewish community at UCLA than the leaders of the Jewish community at UCLA? I would also posit that speaking on behalf of a community (and I’m referring to any community here) doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing as speaking on behalf of every single person that could subscribe to said community, though perhaps that’s diving into a tangential conversation. This article is pointing out very real instances of hate speech directed at the Jewish community, and I would hope that political opinions don’t get in the way of you, or anyone else, realizing that and agreeing that attacks on any community, the Jewish community included, are wrong.

  • Sara

    Great article!

  • bmatic

    Students For Justice In Palestine is a despicable group of cowards pushing a thinly-veiled agenda of antisemitism and support for terrorist organizations like Hamas. Take Northeastern University’s lead and ban the scum from campus.

    • Common Sense

      We also need to examine MSA and SJP for supporting terrorist organizations and having terrorist links.

  • garyfouse

    This is not just a UCLA problem. Just in recent days, Northeastern University, University of Michigan, and Loyola of Chicago have been subjected to this BDS song and dance and there has been a fair amount of intimidation used by the pro-BDS forces.

    Ask yourselves why the Israel-Palestinian conflict has to be the number one topic of contention on our campuses in the first place. Why do university student governments have to spend so much of their time and energy on these meaningless BDS resolutions that the universities will not accept to begin with? Why do our Jewish students have to endure anti-semitism? In many universities, pro-Palestinian students are using brown shirt tactics on campus-most notably recently at Francisco State University. Why do college administrators tolerate this? Are they waiting until we experience a tragedy on one of our campuses?

    This whole BDS drive and campaign of Palestinian victimization is tiresome.

    Gary Fouse
    Adj teacher
    UC Irvine ext

  • Huskystar

    Time to sue these schools that allow this hate and unsafe environment..no other race or creed would ever have to put up with this!