Saturday, February 29

Submission: Co-author of UCSA resolution needs to disclose affiliations

Editor’s note: Because of the offensive nature of discussion around this article, commenting has been closed.

The original version of this article contained information that was inaccurate and has been changed. See the bottom of the article for more information.

On Feb. 8, the University of California Student Association will vote on a resolution to divest from 11 companies that do business with Israel. The legislation was authored by Students for Justice in Palestine members across the country including Rahim Kurwa, a UCLA graduate student who has played a leading role in promoting similar campaigns within the Undergraduate Students Association Council here at UCLA.

By helping to write a resolution that would speak for every UC student, Kurwa has become a public figure subject to the same standards of transparency and ethics as any member of student government. Given the scrutiny pro-Israel student leaders have received for their affiliations, Kurwa’s own questionable connections to outside political interests, as well as to individuals and organizations that espouse homophobia, racism and genocide denial deserve equal examination. Earlier this year, Kurwa wrote that, “as efforts by off-campus groups to influence student politics grow, we must be more vigilant of threats to the integrity of our political process.” As someone who has repeatedly made accusations about off-campus groups influencing student politics, Kurwa should have had the integrity to disclose his own outside ties.

In 2014, Kurwa joined the leadership of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. This is particularly relevant to student government because this same organization has published a handbook about orchestrating campus divestment against Israel. The handbook encourages students to contact university administrators as part of their campaign, but avoid revealing their full intentions during these interactions. And while the handbook states that divestment was “introduced in North America as a stepping stone toward a broad, comprehensive boycott of Israel,” it tells students to publicly claim that divestment only targets “Israel’s occupation.” Kurwa should explain why an off-campus group he helps lead is instructing activists to deceive university administrators and students.

Furthermore, Kurwa should have disclosed that outside interests are extremely involved in running campus divestment across America. In the spring of 2013, divestment lobby groups created the National Campus BDS Support Team to “streamline and enhance support for campus campaigns” by providing research, talking points, texts and professional legal reviews for student divestment resolutions. These off-campus organizations have a combined annual budget of at least $42 million. Kurwa is listed on Support Team materials as a contact for SJP chapters around the country.

Kurwa’s history is deeply concerning as well. In 2012, he was a member of the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) National Leadership, which organized SJP’s National Conference that year. One of the speakers was Khader Adnan, of the terrorist organization Palestinian Islamic Jihad. They were undeterred by the fact that Adnan had previously incited suicide bombings against Israelis. Kurwa even promoted Adnan’s speech at SJP’s National Conference on social media.

To stage their national conferences, Kurwa and SJP’s leadership use money from an off-campus organization called American Muslims for Palestine. This is deeply problematic, because AMP leaders and speakers have engaged in a variety of extremism and bigotry, including homophobia, support for terrorism and genocide denial. One of AMP’s past keynote speakers publicly defended the 9/11 attacks and another denies the fact that Sudan committed genocide against Africans in Darfur. AMP employees have led training sessions for SJP at UCLA and lobbied student governments across the UCs, including the UCSA.

The troubling associations do not end there. In December 2014, Kurwa flew to Spain to speak about Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions at an international conference. He shared a panel with Mahmoud Nawajaa, the general coordinator of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, despite the fact that Nawajaa publicly supports Hamas on social media. The BNC leads the BDS movement against Israel, and has been directly involved in campus divestment campaigns in California.

This is of particular concern because one of the leading groups in the BNC is the Council of National and Islamic Forces, a coalition that includes the racist terrorist organization Hamas. Kurwa should disclose the extent he coordinates with the leadership of the global BDS movement against Israel.

This resolution invokes human rights and social justice, and claims to “amplify” student voices. Yet Kurwa has worked with bigoted off-campus organizations to push a narrow political agenda on campus. This is extremely hypocritical and deeply offensive to students across the UC system. If we truly oppose injustice, and want to uphold ethics and transparency, we should start fully investigating who is behind anti-Israel divestment campaigns.

Rubin is a fourth-year human biology and society student and the former president of Hillel at UCLA.

Clarification: Kurwa was not the sole author of the resolution, but one of many Students for Justice in Palestine members who co-authored it.

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  • Azul97

    Bds and sjp are frauds promoting hatred under the guise of concern. They should be treated as hate groups.

  • Ryan Bellerose

    BDS is a bigoted delusional slanted movement that relies on ignorance to push its false narratives and agenda of hatred, I hope more students take the time to educate themselves on this horribly prejudiced movement that flies in the face of human rights.

  • Ramón Jurado

    I hope it passes, Israel needs to stop existing.

    • Barbara

      I hope you stop existing

  • Mark Brawthen
  • raquel

    The Palestinians especially their leaders are working hard to perpetuate their agenda of being victims. All the other victims refuges in other places in the world were rehabilitated. The Palestinians are the only one that are claiming to be victims for so many years!
    If all the energy and money was putting into the rehabilitation – the Palestinian problem was solved long ago and they were happy, free and constructive. Part of the Palestinians are terrorists not accepting Israel and putting all their energy in killing innocent people, innocent Jews…so Israel must take measures to protect itself…Should they really aim for a solution of peace – they would have recieved all the support from Israel!!!

  • not a Hasbara fan

    apparently Rubin “proudly serves as the UCLA Cadre Liasion to AIPAC”,
    an organization that vowed to take over student government
    funny, she seems to have forgotten to mention that. So what was that again about integrity and disclosing external ties?

    • GymMom66

      Funny, how Anti-Israel trolls have tried to turn the word “hasbara” into an insult. “Hasbara” means INFORMATION.

      In other words, the author took courses to learn the true facts of the situation, and ways to disseminate those facts, and you find that to be a problem, but have no problem with the terrorist associations of the Anti-Israel crowd?

    • Tammy Rubin

      I wish I was paid to write this! And my affiliations have been made very transparent, not only by me but in a Daily Bruin article written about me last year by a member of SJP. So yes, I think it’s quite appropriate.

    • ThisIsPalestine

      As usual, the only defense the pro-BDS crowd can muster is a pathetic ad hominem on the other. Everything Tammy said is 110% true, and everyone here knows it.

  • not a Hasbara fan

    Hasbara Fellowships was started in 2001 by the right-wing Zionist
    organization Aish HaTorah and the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Its declared
    goal is to train students outside of Israel how to promote the Israeli
    state’s image on their respective campuses. Aish HaTorah supports illegal Israeli settlements within the Occupied Palestinian Territory. From the perspective of international law and official Canadian public policy,
    Israel’s settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are both
    illegal. “Hasbara”, which is the term used to describe Israel’s public
    relations efforts, is widely seen as a euphemism for Israeli state
    propaganda. When a government is engaged in criminal behaviour, it is
    helpful to have students on campuses of higher learning in allied
    countries to serve as de facto ambassadors. Hence the program Hasbara

    I recall from the Hasbara Fellowships program that we were instructed
    to make use of a set of talking points in our campus-based advocacy,
    such as “Israel wants peace and is willing to make painful concessions”,
    and “Israel, like Canada, is a Western liberal democracy”. Regardless
    of the criticism against Israel being levelled, we were trained to
    respond with such talking points in order to convince those around us
    that Israel is, indeed, the “good guy”. Of course, the goal was never to
    discuss or debate the issue, but rather to obfuscate, and deliberately
    prevent our fellow students from engaging in critical thought with
    respect to Israel and its actions.

    • GymMom66

      You expose your own prejudices the moment that you start claiming that Israeli buildings on land legally owned by Israel are somehow “illegal”. Especially when you deny, at the same time, that “Palestinian” Arabs are using EU funds to build illegally on land that belongs to Israel.

      Given your obvious agenda to demonize Israel, and anyone who stands up for Israel, I’m sure YOU won’t watch this, but for those who have heard the repeated claims about “illegal occupation” by Israel and have not yet shut their minds to the truth, here is a very detailed discussion of the international laws that apply to the situation, showing that all of the “West Bank” belongs legally to Israel, until and unless they agree to cede those lands to the Arabs.

      • ray_in_seattle

        Thanks for posting this. It’s been available for several months now. I have yet to see a reasonable rebuttal to any part of Kontorovich’s case.

    • Josh Pactor

      Seems like the pro-BDS group is more than willing to make excuses for suicide bombers and tunnel attackers. These groups almost always get up and claim that “resistance is justified”, and then call the murder of civilians as “resistance”.
      No. No, no, no, no. Killing enemy soldiers, that’s resistance. Running your car into a train station and murdering a baby, that’s MURDER. Period.

      • ray_in_seattle

        What you say is true. In addition, it’s important to remember that “resistance is justified” is simply their opinion. If Judea and Samaria are indeed “occupied” – and there is a reasonable basis under international law to say they are not – then the law does not say that such resistance is legally sanctioned. The occupying power has the legal right to execute them on sight as spies if they are not wearing uniforms while “resisting”.

    • Cpt_Justice

      IOW, it’s not okay that Israel wants people to tell the truth & is willing to help equip them to answer lies with facts. THAT’s propaganda, whereas faked videos of funerals where the “corpse” falls off the stretcher & then climbs back on, & little girls put up by their parents to yell at soldiers – but only when the camera is running (& in English, because “know your audience”)! – & all the other outright lies the “Palestinians” tell – *those* are okay. And you expect us all to swallow this.

  • Tomáš

    Kurwa is suitable name for him though

  • Tomáš

    Kurwa is suitable name for him though

  • Ronit Jacobs

    Anyone who supports BDS is supporting hate, terrorism and genocide. BDS was created to destroy Israel when the Arabs realized that they cannot defeat Israel militarily. It has nothing to do with Palestinian rights which are intentionally denied by the Palestinian leadership of the PA and Hamas. BDS is another vehicle to get rid of the Jews from the Muslim dominated Middle East and anyone that cannot see that is delusional.

  • rsilverm

    Glad to see students standing up for Israel.

  • TheGangbuster12 .

    Anybody who supports gay rights, religious rights, women’s rights, or any rights for that matter needs to oppose this movement. First it’s Israel, then it’s Jews, then everything else but Shariah law.

  • Herb Suhl

    College students can be smart, funny, interesting, but are complexly devoid of wisdom. In order to maintain their social viability they tend to glom onto the conventional wisdom of the coolest adults on campus. For this reason every nut cultural Marxist front group attempts to inculcate it’s insanity politically active students. Thus gaining a toe hold in society and a legion of angry nutcases that will carry the banner forward for the next 40 years. I have long considered this kind of Marxist grooming to be one step up from child molestation. Teacher, leave the kids alone. And here’s to the true rebels that join Campus Christian groups and the Republican Party Club.

  • Tammy Rubin
  • Paul Rosplock

    Palestine has not one smidgen of rights to any land in Israel. they were never owners of a inch of the land and all the land was given to Israel by God.and it will never leave their hands and anyone that goes against Israel is going against God and they don’t have a chance.

  • Paul Rosplock

    God bless Benjamin Netanyahu we can only hope to have a President that can come close to his courage and love of his country. unlike what we have now.

  • Brownstudent

    The pro-genocide crowd were the ones who insisted that everyone who has an opinion on this subject must disclose any and all affiliations with any untoward groups or organizations, not Tammy. They were “exposing” her affiliations with Hasbara a year ago. Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.

    BTW, Tammy’s article’s subject is right there in the title: she’s talking about the co-author of the resolution, not the resolution itself. If that’s too complicated for you, perhaps you should ask a grown-up to explain it to you.

  • Cpt_Justice

    Yes, we’d love fr you to get it straight. But you refuse to do so.

  • Cpt_Justice

    A fabulous encapsulation, given the constraints of a blogpost.