Tuesday, October 15

Editorial: Communities’ unified response to offensive posters a welcome surprise


What started out as a particularly bad week for campus climate at UCLA has turned into a rare moment of respect and solidarity among two communities whose relationship has often been politically and personally fraught.

Now, it’s the responsibility of every UCLA student and administrator to capitalize on this moment of magnanimity and remind everyone what peace among communities – even those with real, deep and consequential political disagreements – looks like.

On Sunday, several offensive posters were found on campus and in the North Village depicting armed militants standing over a masked man with the words “Students for Justice in Palestine” written across the top and the word “#JewHaters” at the bottom.

Similar posters were subsequently found at universities across the country, including UC Irvine and DePaul University. On Tuesday, conservative writer and activist David Horowitz admitted to orchestrating the incident. Horowitz said he was motivated by the existence of “Jew hatred” on college campuses connected to the issue of divestment from companies that some say profit from alleged human rights violations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Although it’s comforting to know that the incident was not the work of any student organization, the posters are yet another incidence of hate targeting a specific group of students surrounding the politically charged issue of divestment.

UCLA has been rocked by this debate, and the relationship between Jewish and Pro-Israel communities and communities backing divestment has suffered under its weight. Even three months after our undergraduate student government passed a divestment resolution, the conversation between the two opposing sides has remained rife with tension and vitriol. This year’s UC Student Association meeting at UCLA, where UCSA passed a divestment resolution regarding Israel, involved involuntary filming of some pro-Palestine protesters and a walkout by our own student council president.

The incidents are seemingly endless, and the posters seemed like just another to add on to the tally. But the swift and respectful response from all members of the larger UCLA community has turned it into something different.

SJP at UCLA quickly put out a statement after the posters were found denouncing their presence, but also clarifying that it does not believe the posters to be indicative of the beliefs of any student groups on campus. Jewish and pro-Israel organizations reached out to SJP in the aftermath and helped take the posters down. Undergraduate Students Association Council President Avinoam Baral, who is vocally pro-Israel, condemned the fliers.

And Chancellor Gene Block, too, condemned the fliers in an email.

At a time of such high tension both at UCLA and throughout the UC system, this swift and unified response was a welcome surprise. It provided some hope that, although these communities differ over an important political question, their basic empathy for one another has not eroded. They are capable of forming a united front against bigotry, racism and hatred. They are capable of standing up and defending one another.

Those are important facts to keep in mind as UCLA heads into what will surely be another heated year of political debate. Communities are capable of vehement disagreement over deeply personal and moral issues while maintaining mutual respect for the other’s humanity.

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.

  • ThisIsPalestine

    The posters aren’t offensive, they are the truth. But Jewish and pro-Israel groups care more about a productive and peaceful campus environment then they do about winning the argument. I hope that the campus community will come together in this manner the next time Jewish rights are under attack by the bigots of SJP, but I wouldn’t count on it. Tolerance, as always when it comes to Jewish-Muslim relations, is a one way street.

    • Amber Latif

      Do you even go here?

      • Bonnetierre

        It’s OK sweetie, we know you hate Jews.

  • Bonnetierre

    This article is contorted and contradictory.

    If the writer had done a tad more research, they would have discovered that DePaul University is where SJP held a fundraiser for a convicted terrorist Rasmae Odeh, just LAST MONTH. Not only is this MATERIAL support for a convicted terrorist, this is a terrorist that MURDERED TWO STUDENTS in Israel; Leon Kaner and Edward Jaffe.

    Do we want a group that celebrates murder and terrorism like SJP on campus?

    Secondly, it is not offensive to call out a group for hatred when they have participated in activities that constitute hate. Apparently we are living out George Orwell’s 1984 where “2 minutes of hate” is okay, and where calling out a group for hate is considered hate in itself. If Horowitz is to be criticized, it should be for being too light-handed in his approach, and not using the hashtag, JEWMURDERERS.

    I also like how the writer of the article left out the discrimination Rachel Beyda suffered at the hands of the #jewhaters on the USAC board. Being that it is relevant to the topic at hand (the poster displays #jewhaters). An omission of convince perhaps?

    This article is a typical PC cover piece for anti-Semetism occurring on campus. The fact is, the majority, if not all of the hate is coming from the same bad actors involved in BDS and discriminating against Jewish students on the USAC board. To attempt to make the hate proportional is dishonest and counter productive.

  • Bill Pearlman

    Those posters hit a nerve because they are true