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SJP and UC Divest Coalition Demonstrations at UCLAUCLA chancellor appointment

This Week: April 26

Photo credit: Helen Quach

By Jack Garland, Tilly Jones, Sharla Steinman, and Hela Khali

April 28, 2024 9:58 p.m.

Israel strikes back at Iran. Protests emerge at college campuses. Podcasts contributors Tilly Jones and Hela Khalil discuss these stories and more with Podcasts editor Jack Garland. City and crime editor Sharla Steinman joins the show from Dickson Plaza to discuss the pro-Palestine encampment that formed there Thursday.

Jack Garland: Today is Friday, April 26. And you’re listening to “This Week” by Daily Bruin Podcasts.

Thanks for joining us for another episode. Today we will be talking about tensions between Israel and Iran, a new UK immigration policy, and the Indian elections on the international side. And on the national side, we’re discussing protests on college campuses, the foreign aid package just signed into law by the President, and a new law in Tennessee that allows teachers to carry concealed handguns at school. And then for the Daily Bruin News segment, I’ll be going to Royce Quad where a pro-Palestinian encampment has formed. And I’ll be talking with Daily Bruin city and crime editor, Sharla Steinman, who’s been at the Quad all day covering the events.

I’m Jack Garland. I’m the Podcasts editor.

Tilly Jones: I’m Tilly Jones. I’m a Podcasts contributor and the international correspondent for today.

Hela Khalil: And I’m Hela Khalil, a Podcasts contributor and today’s national correspondent.

JG: So Hela, Tilly, before we get into the news, I want to talk about your upcoming venture that you guys are doing this weekend as part of the Side Quest mini-series.

TJ: Yeah, so we are going to Griffith Observatory, which we’ve both never been to, which is a very quintessential LA place and we’re gonna see a planetarium show and kind of just explore.

HK: Yeah, it’s gonna be great, we’re gonna live out our La La Land dreams.

TJ: Yeah.

JG: Cool. And Hela, can you tell us what Side Quest miniseries is all about?

HK: Yeah, Side Quest is basically a new miniseries with the Daily Bruin Podcasts, where we send different contributors to different places that are unique to LA and then we have them come back into the studio to talk about their experiences and give reviews on their adventure.

JG: And the first episode will be coming out in the coming weeks. All right, so Tilly, let’s get into the international news for the day. What is the top story?

TJ: So last Friday, Israel launched an attack on Iran in response to the Iranian attack on Israel on April 13. Following the massive attack on April 13, Israel was expected to launch a significantly more extensive strike against Iran. However, Israel launched a relatively restricted attack in an apparent attempt to not further escalate the situation. The Israeli strike occurred near the city of Isfahan which houses important military sites in Iran but ultimately dealt little damage. Israel said this strike was merely meant to send a message to Iran showing their military strength and capability to strike harder if needed. Throughout the war in Gaza, Iran has provided public support for Hamas and other proxy forces in the Middle East.

JG: What is the US saying about the exchange of fire between Israel and Iran?

TJ: So President Biden, along with many other major world leaders have called on all sides to de-escalate regarding the counterstrike on Iran. Biden was supportive of a limited strike to avoid a broader conflict with regard to the impending attack on Rafah. Biden has publicly stated any attack would be a mistake.

JG: And Israel has been talking for a while about an invasion of Rafah. We’ve talked about that on the show a few times. What’s the latest with that situation?

TJ: So this past Monday, Israel began bombing Rafah. The city has become key to the conflict due to the large network of Hamas military shelters and tunnels. And because the city is currently home to over a million civilians and displaced Palestinians, an invasion could lead to high civilian casualties, and over the past few days, displaced people have started fleeing the city out of fear of the seemingly inevitable Israeli attack.

JG: And what is the Bruin angle on all the tensions going on in the Middle East?

TJ: For now, it appears that Iran and Israel do not seek further escalation, which is a positive for the region and for the U.S. However, an invasion of Rafah would likely worsen the already dire civilian conditions in Gaza, which has prompted many UCLA students to renew their calls for divestment in Israel.

JG: And what else is going on around the world?

TJ: India’s general election is currently underway as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is looking to secure a third consecutive term. The election is held over six weeks and will last till June and the main parties in the running are Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance, which is a coalition of parties led by the Indian National Congress Party. Critics of Modi claim India’s democracy has been in decline since he took office and employment has risen however, he remains very popular and is predicted to win a third term.

JG: And what other story are we following?

TJ: Britain’s Parliament passed a new immigration policy allowing the government to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda where the refugee status would then be processed. The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, was a strong advocate for the new bill along with the Conservative Party, hoping it will serve as a deterrent for future migration to the UK. The bill is extremely controversial and was deemed unlawful by Britain’s Supreme Court back in November. The Court deemed Rwanda as an unsafe place to send asylum seekers based on the shaky history of human rights violations. Despite the court’s rulings, the Rwanda Plan remains an integral part of the policy plans for the Conservative Party in Britain.

JG: Thanks for those updates, Tilly, and now we’re gonna move to Hela for the national news updates for the week. What is the top story that we’re following?

HK: Yeah, so this week, pro-Palestinian protests began at many elite college campuses across the U.S. These campuses include Columbia University, the University of Southern California, and Yale University, among others. The demonstrations consist of encampments, where students are setting up tents in central locations around campuses. The protesters are calling for the universities to divest from Israel and its arms suppliers, and they are expected to last through the end of the academic year. Many private universities are calling upon the police to disperse the encampment movements, which has led to confrontations between police and protesters and dozens of arrests.

JG: So this situation is developing rapidly; what’s the latest?

HK: Early Thursday UCLA students set up an encampment in the Royce Quad. While the movement is spreading nationally, it has also begun to spread overseas and can be seen at campuses in Cairo, Paris in Sydney, Australia. This week, USC barred the Class of 2024’s valedictorian, Asna Tabassum, from delivering a commencement speech. Tabassum, who is Muslim and South Asian, was called by USC’s Jewish organizations to be barred from speaking because of her links to pro-Palestinian causes on social media. This story highlights the ongoing debate on free speech infringement at the nation’s top universities.

JG: And what’s the Bruin angle for this story?

HK: Yeah, so this story is very salient to UCLA students because it has now reached our campus. The situation is developing rapidly, and we’ll see if it leads any changes in UCLA policy or class schedules.

JG: And what else is going on around the country?

HK: Last week we reported on the foreign aid package passed by the House. As expected, the Senate has also passed it and President Biden has signed it into law. It will provide $95.3 billion of funding for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan and even forces TikTok’s parent company to sell the social media platform or face a ban. The bill directs over $60 billion in aid to Ukraine, and President Biden stated yesterday that the aid could start flowing immediately to Ukraine.

HK: In other news, on Tuesday, Tennessee legislators passed a bill allowing teachers and school staff to carry concealed handguns on school campuses in the state. The bill follows a shooting last year at a private Christian school in Nashville where three students and three staff members were tragically killed. Proponents of the bill argue that allowing teachers to discreetly bear handguns would protect students, while others express that bringing more guns into schools can be even more dangerous.

JG: Thank you for those updates, Hela.

I’m in the Royce Quad now with Sharla Steinman, the City and Crime editor for The Daily Bruin, Sharla Steinman. Thanks for coming on today.

Sharla Steinman: Thanks, Jack.

JG: So I know it’s been a really busy day for you. Can you give us an update on the situation here in the Royce Quad?

SS: Yeah, so this morning students in support of Palestine and community members set up around 30 tents in front of Royce Hall to demand UC divestment. The encampment was organized by Students for Justice in Palestine and the UC Divest Coalition at UCLA. They represent solidarity with Palestine. Their goals include UC divestment from companies that invest in weapons manufacturing for the Israeli military, transparent disclosure of UC financial records, severing UCLA’s ties with the LAPD, and calling for a permanent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, and boycotting Israeli academic institutions. This follows several protests that have occurred on campus since the Palestinian political party and militant group Hamas attacked Israeli villages on October 7, according to the Associated Press. They’ve continued attacks since then, and in response, Israel attacked the Gaza strip with a ground invasion, as well as bombings and airstrikes killing over 34,000 Palestinians – also, according to AP. The encampment is in response to a national call by the organization National Students for Justice in Palestine for escalation related to the arrests and repression of pro-Palestine college students on various university campuses, including Columbia University last week and the University of Southern California this week. The number of protesters increased to around 400 after several hours and more tents were set up with wooden barricades drilled together around the encampment. Protesters use trumpets, drums and sound systems to amplify their chanting. An organizer with Jewish Voice for Peace at UCLA said the encampments will remain on campus until the university makes meaningful commitments to divest from companies such as BlackRock, which has ties to Israeli weapon manufacturing. One organizer out of the Jewish organizations that have released statements labeling and campaigns across the country as anti semitic are doing a disservice to what they see as a movement toward justice. A BruinAlert message sent to the UCLA community today said that UCLA administrators are monitoring the protests to ensure the right to free expression is protected. The message also said that people wanting access to Royce Hall or the Powell Library would have to show a Bruin card. Mary Osako, the vice chancellor of UCLA strategic communications, sent an emailed statement to the Bruins that Administration is trying to support a peaceful and safe campus environment.

JG: And what are professors saying about the situation?

SS: One professor at the encampment said that they came to the encampment to support students and call for a ceasefire. Another came to ensure that there are no academic repercussions for students participating in the encampment given the right to express dissent on campus. Members of Faculty for Justice in Palestine are also considering whether they should continue teaching classes. Organizers plan to continue the encampment indefinitely, adding that they hope to do so in spite of recent heavy-handed policing against similar encampments across the country.

JG: Sharla, where can I stay up to date on this coverage?

SS: Yeah, well, you can check out the Daily Bruin website and our social media accounts like Twitter and Instagram to find out more about what’s happening on campus.

JG: All right, Sharla. Thanks a lot.

SS: Thanks, Jack.

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Jack Garland
Sharla Steinman | City and Crime Editor
Steinman is the 2023-2024 city and crime editor. She was previously a city and crime contributor. She is also a fourth-year political science student.
Steinman is the 2023-2024 city and crime editor. She was previously a city and crime contributor. She is also a fourth-year political science student.
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