Monday, June 17

Submission: Ethics statement contains double standard


Over the past several weeks, we have witnessed the emergence of a troubling double standard targeting Jewish and pro-Israel students and organizations. While cloaked in the language of “ethics,” “marginalization” and “human rights,” this initiative is actually about denying our narrative and represents a frontal assault on dialogue, education and constitutionally protected rights.

During the recent Undergraduate Students Association Council elections, a coalition of student groups including the Muslim Students Association, Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace led an initiative asking candidates to sign an “ethics statement.” The statement asked candidates to pledge to refrain from taking trips with certain pro-Israel organizations, based on claims that these groups “marginalize” communities on camps.

Further, in an article published on May 6, the editorial board of Al-Talib targeted an individual running for USAC, demanding that he condemn and publicly disassociate himself from a pro-Israel organization that sponsored his educational trip to Israel. While these demands seem legitimate on the surface, they are blatantly hypocritical.

For example, numerous USAC representatives and student leaders are affiliated with the UC Student Association and the US Student Association. Both of these organizations have taken positions or actions that marginalized student communities. In 2012, the UCSA passed an anti-Israel resolution on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. They failed to notify Jewish and pro-Israel students in advance or give them any opportunity to raise concerns. The same year, the USSA published a position paper called “Fund Education, Not Oppression,” which contained direct references to the anti-Israel BDS movement, as well as offensive fallacies about Israel.

While the authors of the “ethics statement” make the claim that the aforementioned trips to Israel are problematic because the sponsoring organizations have “marginalized” students, the same argument can be made regarding sponsored trips to UCSA and USSA conferences.

No attempt, however, was made to address those organizations – only pro-Israel groups were targeted.

The groups that circulated the joint statement of ethics are calling for the effective blacklisting of only Jewish and pro-Israel organizations from campus life and politics.

If applied fairly, the standards laid out by the authors of the “ethics statement” and the editorial board of Al-Talib would prevent USAC members from participating in UCSA and USSA lobby trips to Congress or events with anti-Israel groups as well as trips from pro-Israel groups.

This infringement on the rights of councilmembers to educate themselves about a contentious issue and advocate for what they believe in is in fundamental opposition to the very foundation of our political system and represents an attack on the constitutional right to free association.

If councilmembers can belong to groups that are strictly representative of their own community or other political organizations and attend UCSA or USSA lobbying conferences without any scrutiny, then student leaders should have the freedom to associate with pro-Israel groups both on and off campus.

In fact, if councilmembers insist on voting on geopolitical issues as contentious and complex as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is imperative that they educate themselves in order to make informed decisions, just as members of Congress have taken trips to Israel in order to be informed representatives.

Barring student leaders from associating with pro-Israel organizations, but not others, would make the council incapable of serving our student body as informed representatives of all communities.

An objective look at the situation reveals the perpetuation and acceptance of a despicable double standard. The blatant hypocrisy of the “ethics statement,” as well as attacks exclusively targeting Jewish and pro-Israel groups and students, sends a message to the campus community: Association with pro-Israel organizations must be condemned, while affiliation with groups that marginalize, tokenize or otherwise harm not only the Jewish and pro-Israel communities but other groups on campus are perfectly acceptable and immune to criticism.

We invite all Bruins to assist in the drafting of a new statement of ethics that, rather than revealing the hypocrisy of its authors and unfairly targeting a community, sets forth standards that can be objectively agreed upon by all students and helps to bridge communities and foster constructive dialogue on our campus.

Nusbaum is a third-year microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics student and a board member of Bruins for Israel. Ismakov is a fourth-year political science student and a board member of Bruins for Israel.

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  • CheckTheFacts

    Here is the text of the statement that they are responding to, in case you were curious:

    Joint Statement on USAC Ethics

    We, as UCLA students from various backgrounds and perspectives, ask that elected officials refrain from taking free or sponsored trips with AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), or Hasbara Fellowships.

    As many students have experienced this year, AIPAC and ADL have political agendas that marginalize multiple communities on campus. Recently, student government trips to AIPAC have come under scrutiny (1) because of the organization’s ties to anti-Armenian groups and public figures. Both AIPAC (2) and the ADL (3) (as well as its current president (4)) have histories of Islamophobia. AIPAC has sponsored Islamophobic speakers at it’s conferences (5) and has also consistently pushed for war with Iran (6), even while the Obama administration has sought a diplomatic route. AIPAC also marginalizes the Afrikan and Palestinian communities, as the organization has consistently endorsed and protected actions that have violated human rights and international law.

    Hasbara Fellowships is housed under Aish International (7), an organization which has helped disseminate Islamophobic materials (8) on campuses and around the country. These materials portray the Muslim community as threats, have incited violence against Muslims, and serve to marginalize Muslim students on campus.

    We further ask that USAC Council Members do not accept free or sponsored trips that marginalize communities on the UCLA campus (9). This includes any outside non-student organization that promotes discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, age, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, physical ability, mental ability, marital status, financial status or social status, or which engages in any form of systematic prejudiced oppression. The UCSA and USSA conferences are deemed acceptable as these conferences deal directly with student issues and do not marginalize any community.

    Please sign as a candidate in the upcoming USAC elections assuring the campus that you will decline these trips while in elected office:

    (1)http://dailybruin.com/2014/04/09/aram-ghoogasian-usac-members-should-not-participate-in-external-lobbying-groups/
    (2) http://mondoweiss.net/2013/03/approval-islamophobe-emerson.html
    (3) http://www.alternet.org/world/how-anti-defamation-league-fuels-islamophobia
    (4)http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/04/29/abe-foxman-rationalizes-blanket-spying-on-american-muslims.html
    (5) see reference 2
    (6) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/lobbying-for-iran-war-aip_b_4569882.html
    (7) http://www.aish.com/ai/ip/
    (8) http://www.alternet.org/world/follow-money-islamophobia-israel-right-or-wrong, http://ipsnorthamerica.net/news.php?idnews=1705
    (9) see reference 1

    • Whatever

      The truth is this:
      SJP has links to the terrorist group Hamas. Al-Talib Magazine is a crazy Islamist hate magazine, that has praised Osama bin Laden and glorified him. Al-Talib is Anti-American and should change its name to Al-TalibAN. They produce garbage praising bin Laden, and then their columnists fools like Ayesha Khan, wonder why they get profiled at the airport.

      Absolutely disgusting what some of the quasi-Islamist-terrorist groups on campus are doing.

    • Elon

      The citations show that many of your accusations of Islamophobia are in fact the results of attacks on groups supporting BDS. If as you stridently claim, anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism, surely being anti-Palestinian and certainly just mildly disagreeing with you are not Islamophobic. There is hatred towards Muslims that stems from this conflict, but not everyone who takes the other side does so because they hate Muslims.

  • CheckTheFacts

    The authors said that the policy paper from USSA has “offensive fallacies about Israel”, but didn’t point to any in particular.

    • ThisIsPalestine

      For Students for Just Us in Palestine to claim this:

      “AIPAC and ADL have political agendas that marginalize multiple communities on campus.”

      Is the height of hypocrisy. The only reason why SJP exists is to marginalize Israelis, Jewish, and pro-Israel students.

    • Whatever

      SJP has links to the terrorist group Hamas. Al-Talib Magazine is a crazy Islamist hate magazine, that has praised Osama bin Laden and glorified him. Al-Talib is Anti-American and should change its name to Al-TalibAN. They produce garbage praising bin Laden, and then fools like Ayesha Khan, wonder why they get profiled at the airport.

      Absolutely disgusting what some of the quasi-Islamist-terrorist groups on campus are doing.

    • Masada

      This is an offensive fallacy: “Rarely is it mentioned that pre-1948, Jews and Palestinians lived side by side in peace and harmony.”

      In fact, pre-1948 Jews were attacked and oppressed by the ancestors of Palestinians for centuries. Karl Marx and many other visitors to Jerusalem and the surrounding area described the brutal oppression Jews faced at the hands of the majority population at the time. Saying that Jews and Palestinians lived in peace and harmony before Israel was created is kind of like saying that blacks and whites lived in peace and harmony before Jim Crowe was abolished. Very f*cking offensive.

      And the paper cites the BDS Movement which seeks the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state, as well as If Americans Knew, which spreads vile anti-Israel conspiracy theories, and at times blatant anti-Semitism.

      • Elon

        The people on the “Freedom Flotilla” weren’t murdered. They died in combat. You can watch the Al Jazeera tapes. They came armed to run a naval blockade and attacked the soldiers boarding the ship with weapons, both standard and makeshift. The ones on the specific ship where the fight happened weren’t US citizens either, and in fact the flotilla was illegal under US law. Giving random token materials to Hamas also wouldn’t help Gazans in any way.

        Many Palestinians were indeed killed during Cast Lead, including unarmed women and children. But half the casualties were Hamas fighters who provoked the situation in the first place by kidnapping someone and firing a barrage of rockets at Israel. In other words, it was a war.

        There has not been a siege in Gaza for “Over 45 years”. Policies towards Gaza varied greatly in the years since 1967, and the current siege started following Hamas’s election.

        So yes, the picture that resolution paints is incredibly distorted and full of fallacies against Israel, at least as much as what you be likely to hear on an ADL trip.

  • ThisIsPalestine

    Students for Just Us in Palestine are being especially hypocritical. The candidate they endorsed, Devin Murphy, went on a trip to Israel sponsored by pro-Israel groups, just like the candidates that they criticized for having a “conflict of interest.” The difference is that Murphy is anti-Israel anyway so SJP backed him.

    This proves that it isn’t the trips themselves that SJP doesn’t like, but the possibility that students might come back with knowledge and experiences that will make them more resilient to SJP’s propaganda campaign. After all it’s a lot harder to lie about Israel when students can learn the truth. This is just another attempt by SJP to control the conversation since the facts aren’t on their side.

    • Whatever

      Of course. SJP and all Islamist organizations are hypocritical. When in the minority Muslims scream and complain about not getting minority rights, but when Muslims are in the majority, they don’t give a damn about minority rights!

      SJP has links to the terrorist group Hamas.
      Al-Talib Magazine is a crazy Islamist hate magazine, that has praised
      Osama bin Laden and glorified him. Al-Talib is Anti-American and should
      change its name to Al-TalibAN. They produce garbage praising bin Laden,
      and then their columnists fools like Ayesha Khan, wonder why they get
      profiled at the airport.

      Absolutely disgusting what some of the quasi-Islamist-terrorist groups on campus are doing.

    • http://www.mikereport.wordpress.com Mike Report

      BINGO!

  • Seriously?

    If council members can’t go to The Middle East (these trips often include visits to Jordan and the West Bank) with pro-Israel groups, because pro-Israel groups marginalize Muslim students on campus, then council members shouldn’t be allowed to go to anywhere with any organization that marginalizes any student on campus. No more trips to Target with Bruin Democrats because a Bruin Republican doesn’t like Democrats.

    Why do all other communities get to define what is offensive to them, but when Jews say something is anti-Semitic, the world looks at them like they are crazy? Why do we have a statement attacking the political identity of “pro-Israel” but not any other controversial political identity (stances on abortion, gay rights, welfare, energy policy, other international conflicts)?

    Lastly, these trips aren’t meant to brainwash people. These trips are meant to educate people. We hear so much on campus about what happens in the Middle East but who actually knows. Let students go. Let students learn. If you’re at UCLA, you’re smart enough to know that these trips come with a bias. That’s fine. Acknowledge that bias, take the opportunity, and come back with a more intelligent understanding of the world. Just because you go on these trips, doesn’t mean you must agree with everything you encounter.

    • Whatever

      Not just Jews, but also Hindus. If Hindus complain about injustice, the world also looks at them like they are crazy. Fanatic left wingers and fanatic right wingers do have one thing in common: they hate Jews and Hindus.

      P.S. Why do Muslim students always have to scream and complain about every little thing? Why aren’t they protesting against Boko Haram, which just kidnapped hundreds of girls in Nigeria. Do these Muslim Students condemn Boko Haram? SJP, MSA, and Lizzy Naameh need to come out and condemn such behavior.

    • Whatever

      “Islamophobe – a word created by fascists, used by cowards to manipulate morons”
      -The liberal Christopher Hitchens.

      • klam5305
        • Whatever

          Oh well, Hitchens, still despised Islam and did say that it, along with other Abrahamic religions constituted the axis of evil

          • a thought

            and this. seriously, this article is in part to fight the fact that ADL and AIPAC were accused of being islamophobic. I am very much opposed to this false accusation but this comment is extremely Islamophobic. If you are for the cause please try to keep your comments respectful. I’m Jewish and I find this offensive. Islam is a religion. Anti-israel is another thing. Sometimes they overlap, sometimes they don’t so don’t generalize everyone into one category calling them the “axis of evil.” I know plenty of muslims who are pro-israel and they don’t deserve this. and guess what? The ones that are anti-israel (even though we have different viewpoints) don’t deserve this either.

          • Elon

            Yeah, no question Hitchens was an Islamophobe. He hated and assumed the worst of anyone conspicuously religious, and bowing five times a day makes you conspicuously religious.

          • Whatever

            True. But you cannot discount the fact that Christianity and Islam have spilled the most blood in the name of religion. NO other religion comes even close.

          • a thought

            That is true, but when you say these things it comes across as if you’re saying it about Muslims today in age. Muslims at our school. Members of SJP specifically. To be quite honest I think a good amount of SJP members aren’t malicious, just very ignorant on the other side of the story and think they are fighting for the right thing (another very scary issue). All I’m saying is continue to show your support, you have some good arguments. Just be careful with your wording. Someone who is uneducated on the subject can come here and read this article and be very impressed with the Pro-Israel intention of remaining respectful, but as soon as they go through the comments they’ll leave with a bad taste in their mouth thinking “wow, some israel supporters are actually really isamophobic.”

          • Guest

            The champion religion for spilling blood is Statism. NO other religion comes close

      • a thought

        Hey, I am pro-israel and am all for this article but if we want respect we have to show it back. There is such a thing as islamophobia and I find this quite disrespectful towards people who actually experience it. I agree in the case of the ethics statement the word was strategically and improperly used but there will be many SJP supporters reading this too and I think it is important we model respect.

  • Get thicker skin

    With 25,000 undergraduates, it’s virtually impossible for some student group or community not to be offended by some political topic. But that’s just how it is. Banning political discourse on a public university simply because you disagree with it and feel “marginalized” by it is contradictory to everything that education in this country stands for. Get thicker skin, and deal with it. Universities are meant to prepare people for the real world and there is going to be a lot of stuff in the real world that offends you, but you won’t be able to do anything about it. You can’t keep silencing people’s right to free speech simply because you disagree with it.

    Kudos to these writers for standing up to the virulently anti-Semitic and disgusting statement published earlier by SJP and their buddies.

    • ThisIsPalestine

      SJP are bad at things such as “acting like civilized human beings,” but are quite good at manipulating liberals. They know that all you need is to have a group of Muslim students say “we are offended and feel discriminated against” and college student governments will do anything you ask. Even if it includes offending and discriminating against Jews.

      • Whatever

        You are right they will also use the word Islamophobic to defame anyone who disagrees with them slightly.

        “Islamophobe – a word created by fascists, used by cowards to manipulate morons”
        -The liberal Christopher Hitchens.

    • Whatever

      SJP supports the terrorist group Hamas.

      You are correct about universities squashing freedom of speech. Notice how universities only squash freedom of speech that is critical of Islamists.Guess all these academics and universities love soaking up all that Saudi Wahhabi terrorist money. Disgusting.

  • olesker

    What exactly is the “ethics” issue raised by students taking a trip to the Middle East sponsored by an off campus group?

    Are participants being accused of having accepted a bribe to vote a certain way?
    Are they being accused of “falling for propaganda”?

    Aren’t such assumptions an insult to the intelligence of UCLA students, both candidates and voters?

  • Yes!

    Bravo!!!

  • Philassie

    The SJP is SCARED of student leaders seeing the truth of Israel and becoming immune to BDS’ BS and SJP’s industry of lies and distortions.

    The SJP are posing as progressive humanitarian unicorns but are in fact pushing a fascistic agenda that criminalizes Jewish patriotism, i.e., Zionism — a noble, tolerant and highly moral liberation ideology that is a CORE of Jewish identity since biblical times but that *** has been systematically misrepresented by design.*** Zionism is the opposite of what SJP says it is.

    Jewish students are being forced by the SJP to choose between due pride in their heritage and historical homeland and a comfortable and accepting learning environment. No one should be forced to make that choice. Not in America, not today. Were any other group faced with a campaign of demonizing libel like that of the SJP, alarms would rightfully go off. Why is it OK to systematically lie about Jews and demonize their historical homeland? The SJP is doing this by design, exploiting students’ compassion with horrifically false accusations. It is dividing students along faith and ethnicity (save for a handful of token Jews, another highly offensive practice) when this should be where Muslim and Jewish students become friends and work together (without having to compromise pride and belonging in their respective communities).

    Instead of deciding which information student representatives are allowed to access, the SJP needs to start respecting student gvt, accepting opposing (and factual) viewpoints and student life. It should do this by practicing a shred of the tolerance that it preaches and by presenting students with reliable information, for once, not more of its emotionally manipulative lies and distortions.

  • Bahjat Alirani

    “In 2012, the UCSA passed an anti-Israel resolution on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. They failed to notify Jewish and pro-Israel students in advance or give them any opportunity to raise concerns. The same year, the USSA published a position paper called “Fund Education, Not Oppression,” which contained direct references to the anti-Israel BDS movement, as well as offensive fallacies about Israel.”

    What is the “anti-Israel resolution” that was passed?
    What were the “offensive fallacies about Israel”?, and how were they “fallacies”?

    • Masada

      This is an offensive fallacy: “Rarely is it mentioned that pre-1948, Jews and Palestinians lived side by side in peace and harmony.”

      In fact, pre-1948 Jews were attacked and oppressed by the ancestors of Palestinians for centuries. Karl Marx and many other visitors to Jerusalem and the surrounding area described the brutal oppression Jews faced at the hands of the majority population at the time. Saying that Jews and Palestinians lived in peace and harmony before Israel was created is kind of like saying that blacks and whites lived in peace and harmony before Jim Crowe was abolished. Very f*cking offensive.

      And the paper cites the BDS Movement which seeks the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state, as well as If Americans Knew, which spreads vile anti-Israel conspiracy theories, and at times blatant anti-Semitism.

    • Elon

      You can find the resolution yourself online. It was the standard BDS drivel.

  • UCLAstudentHI

    Honestly, I just want my 3 week christmas break back.

  • John P Center

    pure leftist anti semitism

  • Harif58

    I would suggest that the SJP ask for an addition to their ethic statement, that anyone running for student council must got to Gaza and the West Bank. Especially the gay students and women’s lib, and those standing up for student rights. That way they can see for themselves the atrocities committed against gays, women and children, such as death for being gay, little children learning to hate and to aspire to kill Jews and infidels is ok, than the wonders of a 12 year old getting married. Than they need to go to Israel and speak to some African refugee’s that have decided it was worth risking life and limb to get to a free and Democratic country the only one in the Middle East.

  • brasch

    A campus should be a place where all views are heard, and beliefs studied and questioned. The “ethics” implication of this is repugnant and, frankly, anti-Semitic. The target is not to increase understanding but to restrict it with bias and ignorance. As a California Jew (and a social activist), I deplore this nonsense.

  • Maryknoll66

    I could say I have no dog in this hunt, but that would be a lie. I am not Jewish, or Muslim, or religious for that matter, albeit I was raised Roman Catholic. What I AM is an alumnus, class of 1970, a former President of the Alumni Association, a former Alumni Regent of the University of California, and a former member of the Board of Trustees of the UCLA Foundation and its Board of Directors, among many other volunteer positions I have happily held over the decades since my graduation.

    In my years at UCLA and as a dedicated alumni volunteer, I had many friends and colleagues who were Jewish, a fair number though smaller who were Muslim, and we all managed to work together for common goals. I find the USAC initiative unconscionable, and fully support the authors of this article.

    The issues in the Middle East, especially those between Israel and Palestine, are complex. But frankly, I can think of no nation LESS deserving of the kind of sanctions this “initiative” proposes than Israel. Many Muslim countries have called for the total obliteration of Israel. Israel has never said that about Palestine or any of its Muslim enemies. More Jews fled, were displaced or were forced to leave their homes in Muslim countries after Partition than Muslims who were forced or felt they had to leave Israel after that. It has been in the continuing interest of the Muslim world, at least its radical portion, to keep the Palestinians in Gaza rather than allowing them to assimilate into other Muslim countries. It is basically a concentration camp designed to foment and grow hatred of Israel, Jews, and the West in general. And it has been very successful at that.

    I do not support all that Israel does, especially its right wing and its settlements policies. I do recognize that is the only real democracy in the Middle East, with the possible exception of Turkey.

    So before entertaining an initiative such as this, students need to understand the realities. I am sure their ideological agendas will trump the facts. They always do, it seems. But as an alumnus with a fair amount of UCLA credibility, let me say I find the actions USAC proposes to be shameful. And, more than that, counterproductive, as their ultimate result will be to cause more people, Bruins and others in our city of Los Angeles, to become, as another commenter noted, “Islamophobic.” If that is USAC’s objective, and that of the groups supporting this initiative, then go right ahead. As it will be, to quote a recent President, “Mission Accomplished.”