Two weeks ago, slanderous posters appeared down BruinWalk depicting the work of Students for Justice in Palestine as connected with terrorist organizations. This example of hate speech is not a new occurrence, but rather a continuation of a long slew of attacks levied against SJP and other organizations that try to raise awareness about the occupation in Palestine. This tactic is not unique to our cause. Whenever one side of a conflict feels that it is losing an argument, it resorts to “name-calling” and “fear-mongering,” which is how Dean of Students Maria Blandizzi described the posters.
As an organization, SJP strives to create a conversation around and raise awareness about the occupation of Palestine. We firmly believe that witnessing the systematic oppression of the Palestinian people makes it difficult for people to forget or feel comfortable being complicit in these crimes against humanity. In recent years, as awareness of the injustice of the Israeli occupation has been rising, so too have the instances of desperate attempts to conflate the secular organization SJP with violent religious ideologies.
For the uninitiated, the Israeli occupation of Palestine is a systematic attempt to uproot a group of 5.5 million people from their ancestral land on the basis of their race and religious beliefs. This is done through the forced displacement of Palestinians, moving Israeli civilians onto Palestinian land in order to reassign ownership, the implementation of illegal checkpoints that limit freedom of movement for Palestinians, demolition of Palestinian homes, systematic confiscation of land and, in the case of the Gaza strip, systematic planned aerial attacks on densely populated civilian areas that claim thousands of casualties. SJP advocates on behalf of the Palestinian people for the end of their perpetual mistreatment by Israeli governmental policies.
Our sympathies go out to every student that was offended by David Horowitz’s poster campaign.
We urge any and all students who are confused about the posters’ implications or who would like to learn more to contact SJP and we will gladly extend our resources to try to answer any questions you might have. We would also like to invite all students to our Palestine Awareness Week, which will be held during week four of winter quarter in Bruin Plaza to further raise awareness for this issue.
Abejón is a first-year political science student and the Students for Justice in Palestine education and resources director. Tahir is a UCLA alumna and former SJP education and resources director.