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Students for Justice in Palestine criticizes LA City Council resolution

By camayak

June 3, 2014 5:27 pm

This post was updated on June 4 at 5:52 p.m.

Students for Justice in Palestine released a statement Monday criticizing a Los Angeles City Council resolution that calls for action against a recent pledge asking undergraduate student government leaders to refrain from taking free or sponsored trips with external lobbying groups.

The City Council resolution asks University of California officials to implement policies that protect students from intimidation and harassment in response to the pledge.

In early May, multiple student groups asked candidates participating in the Undergraduate Students Association Council election to pledge to not go on free or sponsored trips with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Anti-Defamation League and Hasbara Fellowships and non-student centered groups while holding office. The majority of candidates participating in the election signed onto the Joint Statement on USAC Ethics.

On May 27, Los Angeles City Council member Bob Blumenfield, a councilman from the third district, presented the resolution calling for the UC Board of Regents and the President of the UC system to establish policies to “ensure that students are protected from bullying and harassment.”

The Los Angeles City Council resolution also says the Joint Statement on USAC Ethics is part of a larger movement which focuses on anti-Israel tactics.

The Students for Justice in Palestine press release says that the City Council resolution, which has not been deliberated yet, misrepresents the goals of the pledge.

The City Council resolution says the Joint Statement on USAC Ethics labels these groups as Islamophobic when they are “well known and reputable non-profit organizations.”

“I’m disappointed by (the) continued mischaracterization of the Anti-Defamation League and other pro-tolerance groups, and offended that those who support Israel are implied to be Armenian Genocide deniers,” Blumenfield said in an email statement.

Omar Zahzah, a second-year comparative literature doctoral student and the incoming president of Students for Justice in Palestine, said the Joint Statement on USAC Ethics statement was not meant to target pro-Israel groups.

Zahzah said groups in the statement were mentioned because of their involvement with student leaders, campus politics and their history of hosting speakers who some say are Islamophobic and involved with the denial of the Armenian genocide.

Students for Justice in Palestine said in their press release that the resolution also does not mention all of the concerns raised by students about lobbying groups listed in the statement.

“The fact that the Los Angeles City Council is now considering delegitimizing the efforts of students to hold their representatives accountable by promoting transparency, integrity and inclusivity is beyond disturbing,” Students for Justice in Palestine said in a statement.

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, UC President Janet Napolitano and Bruins for Israel at UCLA also released statements criticizing the Joint Statement on USAC Ethics earlier this month. In their statements, Block and Napolitano said they think the pledge targets groups with certain political perspectives and is harmful to communities at the UC.

The Los Angeles City Council has not decided on a date to vote on the resolution yet.

For more coverage on the events leading up to the release of this statement, read here and here.

Compiled by Jessica Doumit and Samantha Tomilowitz, Bruin contributors.

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