Update 4 - Another poster spotted at Gayley and Strathmore on February 24th, around noon. Posters were also reported at Arizona State University.
Update 3 - On February 23rd, similar incidents were reported at University of Virginia, Drake University, DePaul University, UC Irvine, and University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Update 2 - It has come to our attention that the Brandeis Center at UCLA Law School will be holding an event entitled "Is BDS Anti-Semitism?" on Wednesday, February 25th. This type of rhetoric contributes to an environment in which hate speech such as today's incident can occur.
Update 1 - UCLA administrators have confirmed that they are responding to the issue and will be providing updates soon.
On the afternoon of Sunday, February 22nd, UCLA students reported having seen the above posters outside of Powell Library, Ackerman Union, on Veteran and Sunset, and inside of apartment complexes at Strathmore and Levering Avenue. As of this writing, we do not know who is responsible for these acts, although the placement of posters at particular locations on campus and at an apartment complex known to house undergraduate students suggests that the perpetrator(s) is familiar with the campus body.
These posters are a clear example of hate speech directed against Students for Justice in Palestine, as well as supporters of Palestinian freedom and equality. They rely on Islamophobic and anti-Arab tropes to paint Palestinians as terrorists and to misrepresent Students for Justice in Palestine as anti-Semitic. It hardly bears repeating that SJP at UCLA is an organization that prides itself on its opposition to all forms of racism and bigotry, and which is open to and promotes the membership of students from all walks of life. As organizers, we are concerned that these acts are an attempt to delegitimize and slander the work that we have done to pass divestment on our campus. Furthermore, defacing school property and intimidating a specific group of students creates a deeply harmful environment that prevents student learning and community-building. Coupled with the recent uprise in Islamophobia on a national scale, we are concerned for the safety of our fellow students and student organizers.
Regardless of who perpetrated these acts, we do not believe such actions reflect the opinions or values of any community on our campus. However, we must point out that these posters are only the most recent manifestation of a larger, egregious pattern of anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim bigotry that has gone unchecked throughout the UC system. Earlier this month, a Muslim student wearing a hijab was singled out during the public comment portion of a University of California Student Association meeting for wearing religious clothing, following a pattern where the freedom of expression for Muslim women become routine targets on campus. UCSA members were deliberating divestment when the incident occurred. Outside the meeting, multiple witnesses observed protesters yelling slurs such as, “This campus is a breeding ground for terrorists” and “Terrorists don’t belong on UCLA’s campus.” Students in support of Palestinian rights, particularly Muslim women, were harassed, filmed against their will, and repeatedly called “terrorist”, all to administrative inaction. Additionally, after being attacked in the campus paper, an SJP member received an email stating: “Get out of our country! Go back to whatever Islamic shit hole you were defecated from.” Earlier this year, we saw various efforts in opposition to divestment explicitly suggest conflating SJP and ISIS and labelling SJP as “Hamas on Campus”. Today’s events only serve to remind us of how dangerous this rhetoric can be.
Hate against any community is unacceptable and must be swiftly--and publicly--condemned. SJP-UCLA calls upon the campus community to not let this be another instance where bigotry against Palestinians, Arabs and/or Muslims is tacitly condoned. With this in mind, SJP at UCLA also thanks Bruins for Israel as well as USAC President Avinoam Baral for their messages of support and concern, and for assisting in taking down these posters and attempting to locate the perpetrators. We received and are grateful for both of their messages, which serve to reaffirm that although our groups may disagree on political questions, we remain uniformly opposed to all forms of bigotry and oppression against any and all communities.
Additionally, the UCLA Police Department, Chancellor Block, Vice Chancellor and Provost Waugh, Vice Chancellor of External Affairs Turtletaub, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Montero, and Dean of Students Blandizzi have all been contacted so that UCLA can take the appropriate steps necessary to ensure student safety and launch an investigation concerning the creation and distribution of the flyers. We hope that the administration will release a statement condemning the targeting of a student organization with hate-speech. Hate is unacceptable when directed against any community; we hope that the diverse coalition of students who support Palestinian rights will not be an exception to this standard.
If students witness other incidents of hate speech, please note the time and location of the occurrence, and contact UCPD by phone at (310) 825-1491 or by email at email@example.com. SJP at UCLA is archiving these incidents and would appreciate help with the process. Please send in documentation to firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, we encourage students to utilize the following services:
CSO escorts are available from dusk until 1 AM to walk students from any location on campus. Students should call 15 minutes before they need to leave. The number to contact them is (310) 794-WALK.
CSO evening vans run from Monday through Thursday, from 6pm to 11pm and will drop students off at the nearest intersection to their apartment. The number to contact them is (310) 825-1493.
More information on these services is available here.