Bruins for Israel criticizes actions it considers anti-Semitic
May 15, 2014 1:33 am
Bruins for Israel members issued a press release Thursday criticizing speech and actions they considered anti-Semitic at a past undergraduate student government meeting and in a recent statement asking next year’s councilmembers to refrain from taking free or sponsored trips with certain pro-Israel or non-student centered organizations.
The release calls for the Undergraduate Students Association Council to denounce all forms of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism that members think was evident at a USAC meeting, where councilmembers voted on a controversial divestment resolution. Bruins for Israel members also demanded USAC denounce a controversial “Joint USAC Ethics Statement” and asked UCLA administration to take steps to promote a positive campus climate.
In February, USAC voted down a resolution asking for UCLA and the University of California to divest from companies that profit from the Israeli military’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. After the meeting, students on both sides of the debate said they felt unsafe on campus, partially because students used hateful speech at the meeting.
The Muslim Students Association also released a statement in March criticizing speech used at the meeting and calling for UCLA administrators to prioritize the implementation of an academic diversity requirement.
In recent months, divestment and other issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been controversial topics on campus.
During USAC elections last week, the majority of candidates running for office signed the “Joint USAC Ethics Statement,” promising to not go on free or sponsored trips with certain pro-Israel lobbying organizations, among other groups, while they are in office.
The statement has drawn criticism this week from some outside media outlets and pro-Israel activists, who claim that it limits students’ ability to pursue educational opportunities. Members of Bruins for Israel said they think the statement unfairly targets pro-Israel organizations and councilmembers.
“The statement is a petty attempt to prevent future UCLA leaders from educating themselves about Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the press release states. “It is shameful that when student leaders seek to gain knowledge and insight on such a complex and contentious issue, they are intimidated and accused of being biased.”
In the Bruins for Israel press release, group members ask USAC to draft a new statement that would encourage understanding between different campus communities.
Group members also invited all members of the UCLA community to meet with Bruins for Israel and discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or related issues in the press release.
On Thursday, the USAC Judicial Board is holding a hearing to review two USAC councilmembers’ votes on the divestment resolution. Because the councilmembers went on free trips to Israel covered by external organizations during their terms in office, members of Students for Justice in Palestine claimed that the councilmembers’ votes constituted a conflict of interest.
Compiled by Amanda Schallert, Bruin senior staff.