It’s that time again.
Time for another round of posters on campus by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, associating Students for Justice in Palestine and the Muslim Students Association with terrorism.
Last week, the center went further than usual, naming a blacklist of students and professors that it claimed support genocide.
There is a clear moral imperative to recognize that these posters draw on vile, Islamophobic stereotypes we cannot allow at UCLA.
The work of SJP and MSA – which, to be clear, are two separate organizations with distinct missions – is not terrorism, and it is not genocide. It is not anything close.
SJP advocates for Palestinians. MSA supports Muslim students.
No matter one’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to paint those endeavors as terrorism is nothing but bigotry. And to attach students’ and professors’ names to the accusations endangers the targeted individuals, making our campus a scary place not only for them but for their communities, many of whom bear the trauma of constant demonization in American political discourse.
It makes our campus a scary place for everyone.
But there are steps we can take to change that.
The first is to unequivocally condemn intimidation tactics like those we saw last week.
The second, long-term solution is to cultivate a university culture where we stretch past our usual boundaries to approach all of our classmates with generosity and openness.
For many of us with stakes in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, words like “SJP” and “Zionist” have become a negative shorthand for the fears we carry about the people we call “the other side.”
Shorthand for “hates things I love,” or “doesn’t want me to have rights,” or “brainwashed and misinformed.”
Sometimes, even, “might hate me.”
In the absence of relationships, mistrust calcifies quickly. Many of us work side by side with colleagues we are afraid to get to know.
We should be reaching out to ask for our counterparts’ stories. We should be learning if there are ways we can see ourselves in each other and ways we can support one another. We should particularly seek ways to support the communities that were targeted last week.
We deserve a university where each person is viewed first and foremost as a human being.
On a campus like that, Mr. Horowitz’s posters wouldn’t stand a chance.
Sarah Rogozen is a doctoral candidate at the UCLA School of Law, and a former Daily Bruin radio director. She is unaffiliated with the groups targeted in the posters.