Friday, May 24

Pro-Israel groups react to criticism of USAC officials’ free trip


Several pro-Israel lobbying organizations recently released statements claiming that on-campus student groups are unfairly targeting Israel by criticizing two undergraduate student government officials who went on free trips to Israel while in office.

The Anti-Defamation League and StandWithUs, pro-Israel organizations that aim to combat anti-Semitism, also criticized groups who called for Undergraduate Students Association Council candidates not to take free or sponsored trips with non-student centered groups in their statements.

“This effort is just another strategy to delegitimize Israel and reflects how far the anti-Israel movement is willing to go in order to stifle voices that support the Jewish state,” the Anti-Defamation League’s statement says.

In April, Students for Justice in Palestine requested that the USAC Judicial Board review two councilmembers’ votes on a controversial divestment resolution, which called for UCLA and the University of California to divest from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

Students for Justice in Palestine members asserted that USAC General Representative Sunny Singh and USAC Financial Supports Commissioner Lauren Rogers engaged in a conflict of interest by voting on the divestment resolution when they had gone on free trips to Israel while in office.

In response, the Anti-Defamation League’s Pacific Southwest Regional Director Amanda Susskind released a statement on May 9 saying that the trips can provide students with educational experiences. Susskind said the councilmembers did not engage in a conflict of interest and that accusations raised against them are false.

The Anti-Defamation League’s statement also criticized a Joint Statement on USAC Ethics, which members of Jewish Voice for Peace, the Armenian Students’ Association, Students for Justice in Palestine, the Muslim Students Association, the Afrikan Student Union and Samahang Pilipino support.

The joint ethics statement asked for councilmembers to refrain from taking any free or sponsored trips with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League, Hasbara Fellowships or any non-student centered external groups.

StandWithUs, an organization that supports Israel and aims to fight anti-Semitism, also released a statement regarding the ethics statement.

Roz Rothstein, the CEO of StandWithUs, said in the statement that individuals who support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, a global economic and political movement to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine, are targeting student leaders and attempting to limit their understanding of Israel.

Rothstein added in the statement that if the joint ethics agreement was applied correctly, candidates should also refrain from associating with the BDS movement.

“(Candidates should) not be allowed to attend divestment training sessions, (Students for Justice in Palestine) conferences, or pro-BDS events in general, because BDS promotes hatred and marginalizes so many students on campus,” Rothstein said.

The Judicial Board’s hearing for Singh and Rogers will be held Thursday from 6-9 p.m. and is open to the public.

Compiled by Jessica Doumit, Bruin contributor.

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  • Whatever

    If we were to pass a resolution that is sensible and would prevent organizations which have terrorist links to not be able to speak at USAC and UCLA, then SJP would be whittled down. SJP has terrorist links to Hamas.

    There are some members of the Armenian Association at UCLA who lobby up on Capitol Hill. Hope they will not be eligible for USAC membership.

    • The_Herman_Cains

      Any conclusive links from your first statement about links to international political groups?

      • Mifty Popularis
        • Mifty Popularis
        • Karmakameleeon

          The speculative associations in the link you provided do not sufficiently prove that SJP members have gone on external third party sponsored trip. You make a very flawed conjecture when you assert without valid basis that SJP and MSA is somehow boosted by Hamas.

          Nobody is doubting that Israel faces real security threats, but those security threats do not warrant the internationally recognized humans rights violations such as the building of illegal settlements, checkpoints within palestinian territory, or a separation barrier that cuts into palestinian land and deviates greatly from the green line.

          It’s one thing if a student group lobbies its Student Council in favor or against a bill, but it’s another if a third party organization that is not a part of the campus were to send a student legislator on a trip in order to sway his or her opinion. It doesn’t matter what the external organization lobbies (it could be a pro-palestinian organization), the fact that a non-student organization is directly affecting the outcome of student run government is quite worrisome.

          • Mifty Popularis

            So it’s an issue that a USAC member went on a trip sponsored by an organization that is against hate against all people, but fine that other USAC members are affiliated with groups that are sponsoring terrorism against Americans and Jews abroad. HUH?

          • http://oldschooltwentysix.blogspot.com/ oldschooltwentysix

            Actually, plenty of people do not recognize that Israel faces a real security threat.

          • Elon

            Everyone goes on third-party trips. But only some trips result in judicial review, post facto. If only it were as your third paragraph said, maybe the trips, all trips, would be worrisome. Maybe we should talk about a ban. Maybe

            But what is far more worrisome is that this is far from the case. Three specific lobbies are being singled out. Everyone knows it, and everyone knows why. Because one campus group is interested in petty revenge and in killing productive discourse, all while callously pretending to be anti-hate.

      • Mifty Popularis
  • Philassie

    The sjp is afraid of students seeing the truth of Israel and bds’ evil lies being exposed