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Op-ed: As an alumnus, I demand that UCLA admin hold Zionist mob accountable for attacks

By Robert Gardner

May 6, 2024 1:26 p.m.

On April 28, a racist, Zionist mob verbally and physically assaulted students who were calling for UCLA to divest from companies that profit from Israel’s genocide in Gaza that has killed over 34,000 Palestinians. The mob yelled the N-word and spat at Black students, called students “sub-human” and “dogs,” hoped for them to be raped and killed, and shoved students to the ground. Following the initial mob attack, Zionists continued their reign of terror the next several nights, unleashing mice and launching physical attacks against encampment barriers with switchblades.

But nothing could have prepared me for the shocking campaign of Zionist racial terror to come.

Late Tuesday night, I watched in horror for hours from home as another Zionist mob of outside agitators burned screaming students with projectiles. They beat students with metal bars, wooden planks and hammers as they were wailing in pain and left bloodied and bruised; assaulted students with tear gas and bear mace; and hit them with rocks and bottles. On top of that, I witnessed the most hateful and racist anti-Palestinian, Black, LGBTQ+ and Islamophobic hate speech I have ever heard.

UCLA security, administration and the media stood idly by.

Fearing that students were going to be fatally injured, I quickly drove to campus and put my life on the line to defend students peacefully protesting.

As I ran toward Bruin Walk from Gayley Avenue, I witnessed several students exiting the dorms sporting Israel Defense Forces T-shirts on their way to potentially witness, celebrate and join the mob attack.

Upon arrival, I joined the students nonviolently defending the encampment. I saw with my own eyes the Zionist mob throwing metal barricades, pulling out students from the encampment, beating them with deadly weapons and launching chemical warfare. The mob repeatedly told students that they were going to turn the encampment into a “little Gaza” and murder them.

As an alumnus, I am outraged at the administration’s failure to protect students demanding an end to UCLA’s complicity in Israel’s genocide in Gaza.

I believe its failure was intentional.

Before Tuesday night’s potentially deadly campaign of terror, UCLA chancellor Gene Block sent a campuswide email that included alumni, failing to emphatically denounce Zionist aggression. He passively acknowledged that “the tactics of others have frankly been shocking and shameful.”

Simultaneously, Block erroneously legitimized first-year student and provocateur Eli Tsives’ viral and misleading Zionist propaganda video that helped instigate the mob attacks that could have gotten fellow students killed. Block then suggested the incidents on campus disproportionately caused anxiety and fear among Jewish students outside the encampment. This harmful rhetoric not only favors Zionist students who oppose Palestinian human rights but also refuses to explicitly acknowledge Black, Indigenous and people of color, along with anti-Zionist Jews who were the actual victims of Zionist violence and hate.

Put simply, the anxiety and fear of students in the encampment did not warrant the same level of priority as those who oppose the fight against ending Israel’s genocide in Gaza.

UCLA alumni should demand transparency and accountability from the administration for its repulsive disregard for Zionist violence and hate, as evident before and during the mob attack. It has demonstrated a blatant indifference and discriminatory hierarchy for student safety that stems from a larger systematic and intentional bias against students fighting for the humanity of Palestinians.

It is time for resignations. The question is: Who will be the first to do so?

Robert Gardner is a 2017 alumnus with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and is the former external affairs director for Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA.

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