Sunday, December 9

National Students for Justice in Palestine conference goes on despite on-campus protest


The national conference held by Students for Justice in Palestine began Friday and ended Sunday. Zionist groups unaffiliated with UCLA protested the event Sunday. (Liz Ketcham/Assistant Photo editor)

The national conference held by Students for Justice in Palestine began Friday and ended Sunday. Zionist groups unaffiliated with UCLA protested the event Sunday. (Liz Ketcham/Assistant Photo editor)


A Palestinian rights group held its national conference at UCLA amid pushback from the UCLA administration and student groups on campus.

The national conference held by National Students for Justice in Palestine began Friday and ended Sunday. Zionist groups unaffiliated with UCLA protested the event Sunday.

Gurutam Thockchom, an SJP board member and third-year mathematics student, said they hoped the conference would promote discussion among student activists about human rights issues in Palestine.

Thockchom added the pro-Palestine movement would not be the only topic of discussion at the conference, which was not open to the public. However, they did not specify what those topics would be.

“We’ve been inviting our ally organizations and people who’ve stood with us,” Thockchom said. “And we were hoping that our conference would be a place of unity for our community where we could all be in the same room together and talk about our common goals.”

Campus organizations including Student Labor Advocacy Project, Muslim Students’ Association and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlan have voiced their support for SJP.

Justin Feldman, former co-director of education for Bruins for Israel and a member of Students Supporting Israel, said he believes the aim of the conference was to strengthen the anti-Zionist movement.

“I feel that way based upon not just ideology or rhetoric but by the actions of the organization itself … such as May 17th’s (disruption of) Indigenous Peoples Unite here at UCLA.”

Indigenous Peoples Unite, an event hosted by Students Supporting Israel, featured a discussion panel of Jewish, Armenian and Kurdish students. Members of SJP protested the lack of Palestinian representation at the event.

“The goal … is to really bolster a community of students nationally who have been involved in slandering the world’s only Jewish majority country,” said Feldman, who is a third-year Middle Eastern studies and political science student.

Thockchom said SJP would not release the names of the speakers because of security concerns.

“The Israel and Zionist lobby have many ways to try to silence people who are speaking out in support of Palestine,” Thockchom said. “One of those ways is with blacklists and smear campaigns.”

Thockchom said one blacklisting tactic uses databases of Palestinian activists to catalog their views, the events they attend and their social media pages. They added that activists are barred from returning to their homelands to see their families based on their presence in these databases.

“The goal is to scare people into silence,” Thockchom said.

SJP faced pushback from UCLA administrative officials regarding the conference.

Administrative Vice Chancellor Michael Beck sent a letter to NSJP on Oct. 31 asking the organization to cease and desist using their original logo, which featured a bear, a kite and the name “UCLA.”

Chancellor Gene Block also wrote an op-ed published in the Los Angeles Times on Nov. 12 that criticized SJP’s decision to exclude members of pro-Israel student groups from the conference.

Thockchom said Block should not have issued public criticism of the conference or of SJP’s beliefs based on his own political opinions.

“I don’t know why he feels the need to add (his opinions) to this letter, except as a way to placate this external Zionist political pressure,” Thockchom said. “His personal political positions should be irrelevant.”

Parsa Nowruzi, a member of the NSJP steering committee and a student at Stanford, said he disapproved of the administration’s involvement in the discussion surrounding the conference.

“It is very frustrating to see the administration taking those words at their face value and giving in to these attempts to attack student organizers,” Nowruzi said.

Hirmand Sarafian, president of Students Supporting Israel and a third-year neuroscience student, said he thinks closing the event to the public limited discourse.

“The conference doesn’t leave any room for discussion. It’s closed to most students,” Sarafian said. “I can’t go, I have to be vouched for by SJP, which is odd as this is a public campus, and this is a student group.”

SJP was not required to open the event to the public, as it was privately funded.

Roughly 100 members of Zionist groups unaffiliated with UCLA protested the conference Sunday outside of Dodd Hall.

Shar Luib, a protester and member of a nonprofit organization that counters anti-Zionism on college campuses, said he believes SJP aims to radicalize students unfamiliar with the Israel-Palestine conflict.

“They catch them and they spread tons of false rumors, and these people, if they don’t have a stance and they hear something like this, they’ll automatically believe them and turn into someone who hates Israel,” Luib said.

The Los Angeles City Council passed a resolution calling on UCLA to cancel the conference.

Paul Koretz, the representative for the Fifth Council District on the LA City Council, said during the protests Sunday he disapproved of the conference being closed to the public.

“We can’t tell if they’re plotting terrorism or just figuring out how to make life uncomfortable for Jewish students and supporters of Israel on campuses across the country,” Koretz said. “Whatever it is, it’s definitely anti-Semitism, it’s definitely hate speech.”

Thockchom said they think casual labeling of Palestinian activists as terrorists is demeaning.

“Our people … have experienced so much loss due to association with terrorism,” they said. “It’s extremely disrespectful to our identities and the struggles we’ve had to face.”

Thockchom added the pushback against the conference was not unexpected based on the current political climate.

“Our politics of advocating for Palestinian human rights, criticizing the occupation of Palestine by Israel and their maintenance of apartheid in Palestine goes against the existing political status quo in America,” they said. “What is unacceptable is the administration bowing to these external pressures, and we believe this is what is happening.”

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  • marco

    I STAND WITH ISRAEL. Remember the West Bank is only West if your standing in JORDAN.

    • Helen4Yemen

      And when you are standing on your native soil of Poland?

    • TecumsehUnfaced

      So you like standing with common thieves?

  • Larry Quentin

    I was there protesting against the conference. I’m not affiliated with any group. Same with most people I met there yesterday. Crowd was closer to 200 people.

    • TecumsehUnfaced

      Why shouldn’t you be there? The Zionists stole it fair and square with imported weaponry and British training from the people who had been living there for millennia,

  • disqus_EALPPICQDp

    The conference was focused on themes of social justice. It was peaceful, thoughtful, as well as being a gathering of college-age students, with all the hallmarks of a gathering: food, musical performances, poetry. For Councilman Paul Koretz to suggest that these earnest, social justice minded students might be planning terrorism would be laughable if such ugly stereotyping and fear mongering were not so destructive. He has certainly lost my vote.

    • Gal

      If it was “peaceful, thoughtful,” etc. why was closed to the public? What are you hiding?

      • disqus_EALPPICQDp

        It was so that outside agitators could not disrupt the proceedings,as there was obviously a big risk of that happening. I’m sure you are in favor of “walls” when it suits you.

    • TecumsehUnfaced

      The invaders from off campus are accomplished terrorists, and should have been removed immediately. They were there to shut down the event, not debate.

    • Brownstudent

      I like how you guys always say “it was peaceful,” as if that’s supposed to mean something.

  • Jonny

    Loser SJP, 2 billion Muslims killing each other , and they blame 6 million Israelis.

    • disqus_EALPPICQDp

      is that you, Donald?

    • Helen4Yemen

      “In the course of the past year, a new belief has emerged
      in the town: the belief in war against Iraq. That ardent
      faith was disseminated by a small group of 25 or 30
      neoconservatives, almost all of them JEWISH,
      almost all of them intellectuals, people who are mutual
      friends and cultivate one another and are convinced that
      political ideas are a major driving force of history.
      A partial

      list:

      Richard Perle,
      Paul Wolfowitz,
      Douglas Feith,
      William Kristol,
      Eliot Abrams,
      Charles Krauthammer”

      Haaretz – March 4, 2003

  • Maneck Bhujwala

    Was there a discussion of people from Asia, Africa, Middle East, Europe, giving up the homes and land they own in USA back to the Native Americans from whom it was stolen and did they discuss the rights of the Native Americans to get back their lands ?

    • TecumsehUnfaced

      Instead of trying to shut down an event trying to rectify an ongoing settler colonist attack, why don’t you organize resistance to settler events elsewhere at other times? They bother you, so why don’t you work to fix them? Please stop interfering in other people’s work to stop an ongoing injustice. Give Jewish money to Native American organizations.

  • Ryan Bellerose

    its funny watching the jew hating antisemites in sjp backtrack when exposed. lol

    • Helen4Yemen

      jew hating antisemites = redundant?

      • TecumsehUnfaced

        Please be tolerant of little Ryan. It’s not his fault that he was born stupid, and then got brainwashed on top of it. Poor thing!

    • TecumsehUnfaced

      Moritz Steinschneider invented the word, “Anti-semite”, in 1860. Since them it has been used as a slur against those exposing Jewish crimes.

      • Ryan Bellerose

        lmao

    • TecumsehUnfaced

      Nah, it’s sad watching people standing up for justice get intimidated by common thugs.

  • http://www.Facebook.com/TheYadYamin Yad Yamin

    The protest was against SJP’s ANTI-SEMITISM; antisemitism that has been the core of SJP activism on campus for years.

    Because
    of SJP, Jews no longer gather in public without
    fear of harassment. SJP disrupts Jewish events and bullies Jewish students…all while the administration does NOTHING. A hostile environment for Jews has been created on campus where antisemites feel free to attack Jews in the middle of campus. Only two weeks ago, Jews
    at UCLA had “cheap Jews” and “go back to your country” screamed at them
    while the administration (Michael “Mick” Deluca, Associate Vice
    Chancellor, Campus Life) defended the antisemites. These Jew-haters are “their [UCLA admins'] students” (not the Jews being abused)
    (https://www.facebook.com/TheYadYamin/videos/335412680557514/)

    Last
    week, at the SJP conference (which has included terrorists as speakers
    in the past), the enraged crowd was lead to chant “intifada, intifada”; a
    call to terrorism that has killed thousands of Jews in the past.

    A few SJP quotes:
    “Hitler should have killed all the Jews when he had the chance” – Amal Tabel, SJP
    “LOL let’s stuff some Jews in the oven” – Mariam Ghanem, SJP
    “Obama shut up about the gays and kill all the Jews” – Samer Alhato, SJP
    “The world would be so much better without Jews” – Ismail Aboukor, SJP

    https://www.facebook.com/…/a.10626…/1563446400468832/…

    Despite
    their public persona, this is the true face of SJP. This is what was
    invited to UCLA and what we were protesting against. Hate and
    discrimination like this should have no home at UCLA. The holocaust began with words, words just like these.

    • Helen4Yemen

      Holocaust = one European group against another European group.

      It was a European affair and the Palestinians had nothing to do with it.

    • TecumsehUnfaced

      Considering what the invader European Zionist terrorists have done to the Middle East, why are you so surprised about Middle East attitudes toward Jews?

  • Jennifer Winslow

    Inga Hwang’s article is filled with lies and inaccuracies, but most of all it misses the whole point of the protest which is to ban SJP an antisemitic hate group that foments hatred towards the the Jewish state and Jewish students on campus. One has only to look at the protest signs the anti-SJP protesters were carrying to understand. The signs showed tweets and pictures of leadership members posting “Kill the Jews and “Stuff the Jews in the Ovens.” One need look no further than youtube to find SJP breaking into a Jewish event and ripping down their flags, screaming intifada (which means murder Jews) at them, blowing dogs whistles and bullhorns at them. This is the part of the story the biased and dishonest Inga Hwang left out. There were over 200 protesters out there including a Los Angeles City council member who gave a scathing speech against SJP and UCLA for allowing this secret hate conference on campus. Thirty-two thousand people signed a petition to cancel this conference. The dean himself made very clear that he did not approve of this conference. Yet the editors of the Daily Bruin and Ms Hwang see fit to white wash this hate group and try to diminish all who find SJP’s hateful actions and agenda egregious. Shame on the willfully ignorant Ms Hwang and shame on the Daily Bruin who last year published an antisemitic cartoon by an SJP member.

  • baseballmaven

    SJP is not a “Palestinian Rights” organization; it’s the student arm of Hamas and is bent on the destruction of Israel. UCLA should be ashamed

    • Helen4Yemen

      “Israel” is no different than the French in Algeria, a foreign European group
      that seized land inhabited by non-Europeans. Tell me the difference?

  • disqus_pMY4aAWCBp

    Shame on UCLA for allowing this conference to take place in private on a PUBLIC campus! Shame on the Daily Bruin for not doing their homework before publishing this shameful article for not calling antisemitism out! For not quoting all the antisemitic speech from actual SJP members mouths that is publicly founded on social media!! For not stating WHY this conference was protested to begin with! For not interviewing students from SSI or Bruins for Israel? Inga Hwang what kind of one sided reporter are you? Shame on you!

    • TecumsehUnfaced

      Why is their anything wrong with trying the terrible injustice the Palestinians suffered by being invaded by settler colonists from Europe anxious to steal everything they have? Why are agents of the invaders from off campus allowed to interfere in a campus event? Shame on you for trying to shut down intellectual inquiry for the purpose of righting the vast wrongs suffered by genuinely Semite indigenous people of Palestine!

  • Andrew Mishlove

    A video of the event has been widely posted, showing the organizers leading their followers in chants of “Intifada, Intifada.” So, apparently, the Daily Bruin considers this call to murder Jews as normal political discourse. Shameful.

    • Helen4Yemen

      Murdering Jews was done by Christian Europe.

      Europeans invaded Arab land and created a state they call “Israel”.

      When will they move to demand land from the Nile to the Euphrates?

  • Helen4Yemen

    “the world’s only Jewish majority country”

    Considering that 95% of world Jewry is of EUROPEAN origin and ancestry,

    why were these Europeans sent to a far away land inhabited by non

    Europeans? They should have forced Germany to be partitioned.

  • Helen4Yemen

    “Indigenous Peoples Unite, an event hosted by Students Supporting Israel”
    ____

    That is hilarious! The folks who came from Brooklyn and Poland are supposed to be

    the indigenous and not the indigenous?

  • TecumsehUnfaced

    “cooler to play the victim”

    Yes, it is. That’s why Jews do it all the time.

  • TecumsehUnfaced

    How do discuss things with European invaders with an agenda of ethnic cleansing?

  • Kat Sat

    I am very disgusted that my school let criminals to have conference. Israel is only an excuse, next they go after Christian, Hindu, secular exactly what is happening in Arab countries