Black Lives Matter.
We, the undersigned chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)*, unequivocally support the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) and its newly released policy platform for “Black power, freedom, and justice.” We fully endorse M4BL’s demands and take this moment to renew our commitment to fighting anti-blackness as well as all systems of oppression that disenfranchise and oppress Black communities.
We hear M4BL’s call for societal transformation –– from self-determination and investment in Black education to universal healthcare and civil rights protections for queer, trans, and non-binary Black communities –– and for an end to the centuries of violence against Black peoples. We recognize and condemn the harm caused by colonialism, militarization, incarceration, surveillance, resource theft and destruction, and erasure to Black communities in the US and around the world. In affirming that Black lives and Black liberation matter, we aim not only to uphold those working alongside us in the US but also those pursuing Black freedom globally. Accordingly, we pledge to uplift Black voices, including those of Afro-Palestinians, and to root out anti-blackness as we continue to build our movements.
We are moved by the platform’s recognition of Israel’s apartheid laws, illegal settlements, segregated road systems and military checkpoints, punitive home demolitions, and prison system, through which Palestinians, including children, are routinely subject to harassment and torture. As campus organizers, we also welcome M4BL’s endorsement of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), particularly given the current climate of anti-boycott legislation that we face, and we echo its acknowledgment of the US’s culpability in the Israeli occupation of Palestine, notably through military aid, diplomatic support, and investment in private prison companies.
While the struggles of Palestinians and Black people are not identical, we recognize that the same systems and structures contribute to global oppression. To envision and build a world rooted in liberation, we must and will carry forward the legacies of Black and Palestinian solidarity. “Our collective futures depend on it.”
We are steadfast in our support of Black liberation, and urge others in the Palestine solidarity movement to share and endorse the platform and take action.
In reaffirmed solidarity,
American University Students for Justice in Palestine
Athens for Justice in Palestine (University of Georgia)
Boston University Students for Justice in Palestine
Brandeis University Students for Justice in Palestine
Bryn Mawr College Voices for Palestine
California State University–Fullerton Students for Justice in Palestine
City University of New York–Hunter College Palestine Solidarity Alliance
Columbia University Students for Justice in Palestine
Cornell University Students for Justice in Palestine
DePaul University Students for Justice in Palestine
Drew University Students for Justice in Palestine
Earlham College Students for Justice in Palestine
Emory University Students for Justice in Palestine
The Evergreen State College Students for Justice in Palestine
Florida International University Students for Justice in Palestine
Florida State University Students for Justice in Palestine
Fordham University Students for Justice in Palestine
George Mason University Students Against Israeli Apartheid
The George Washington University Students for Justice in Palestine
Georgetown University Students for Justice in Palestine
Hampshire College Students for Justice in Palestine
Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee
Harvard Law School Justice for Palestine
Haverford College Students for Justice in Palestine
Indiana University–Purdue University of Indianapolis Students for Justice in Palestine
John Jay College of Criminal Justice Students for Justice in Palestine
Loyola University–Chicago Students for Justice in Palestine
Marquette University Students for Justice in Palestine
Michigan State University Students for Justice in Palestine
New York University Students for Justice in Palestine
Northeastern University Students for Justice in Palestine
Northwestern University Students for Justice in Palestine
Oberlin College Students for a Free Palestine
The Ohio State University Committee for Justice in Palestine
Rutgers University–New Brunswick Students for Justice in Palestine
Sacramento State University Students for Justice in Palestine
San Diego State University Students for Justice in Palestine
Santa Clara University Students for Justice in Palestine
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago Students for Justice in Palestine
St. Joseph's College Students for Justice in Palestine
Stanford University Students for Justice in Palestine
Swarthmore College Students for Peace and Justice in Palestine
Temple University Students for Justice in Palestine
Tufts University Students for Justice in Palestine
University of California–Berkeley Students for Justice in Palestine
University of California–Davis Students for Justice in Palestine
University of California–Irvine Students for Justice in Palestine
University of California–Los Angeles Students for Justice in Palestine
University of California–San Diego Students for Justice in Palestine
University of California–Santa Barbara Students for Justice in Palestine
University of California–Santa Cruz Students for Justice in Palestine
University of Chicago Students for Justice in Palestine
University of Cincinnati Students for Justice in Palestine
University of Dayton Students for Justice in Palestine
University of Illinois–Chicago Students for Justice in Palestine
University of Illinois–Urbana Champaign Students for Justice in Palestine
University of Louisville Students for Justice in Palestine
University of Maryland–College Park Students for Justice in Palestine
University of Michigan–Ann Arbor Students Allied for Freedom and Equality
University of Michigan–Dearborn Students for Justice in Palestine
University of Minnesota Students for Justice in Palestine
University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill Students for Justice in Palestine
University of North Florida Students for Justice in Palestine
University of Pennsylvania Penn Students for Justice in Palestine
University of South Carolina Students for Justice in Palestine
University of South Florida Students for Justice in Palestine
University of Texas–Austin Palestine Solidarity Committee
University of Wisconsin–Madison Students for Justice in Palestine
Vassar College Students for Justice in Palestine
Wayne State University Students for Justice in Palestine
Wellesley College Students for Justice in Palestine
Wesleyan University Students for Justice in Palestine
Williams College Students for Justice in Palestine
Two weeks ago, slanderous posters appeared down BruinWalk depicting the work of Students for Justice in Palestine as connected with terrorist organizations. This example of hate speech is not a new occurrence, but rather a continuation of a long slew of attacks levied against SJP and other organizations that try to raise awareness about the occupation in Palestine. This tactic is not unique to our cause. Whenever one side of a conflict feels that it is losing an argument, it resorts to “name-calling” and “fear-mongering,” which is how Dean of Students Maria Blandizzi described the posters.
As an organization, SJP strives to create a conversation around and raise awareness about the occupation of Palestine. We firmly believe that witnessing the systematic oppression of the Palestinian people makes it difficult for people to forget or feel comfortable being complicit in these crimes against humanity. In recent years, as awareness of the injustice of the Israeli occupation has been rising, so too have the instances of desperate attempts to conflate the secular organization SJP with violent religious ideologies.
For the uninitiated, the Israeli occupation of Palestine is a systematic attempt to uproot a group of 5.5 million people from their ancestral land on the basis of their race and religious beliefs. This is done through the forced displacement of Palestinians, moving Israeli civilians onto Palestinian land in order to reassign ownership, the implementation of illegal checkpoints that limit freedom of movement for Palestinians, demolition of Palestinian homes, systematic confiscation of land and, in the case of the Gaza strip, systematic planned aerial attacks on densely populated civilian areas that claim thousands of casualties. SJP advocates on behalf of the Palestinian people for the end of their perpetual mistreatment by Israeli governmental policies.
Our sympathies go out to every student that was offended by David Horowitz’s poster campaign.
We urge any and all students who are confused about the posters’ implications or who would like to learn more to contact SJP and we will gladly extend our resources to try to answer any questions you might have. We would also like to invite all students to our Palestine Awareness Week, which will be held during week four of winter quarter in Bruin Plaza to further raise awareness for this issue.
Abejón is a first-year political science student and the Students for Justice in Palestine education and resources director. Tahir is a UCLA alumna and former SJP education and resources director.
We, the undersigned student groups, have taken it upon ourselves to respond directly to the email you recently sent out to the entirety of the campus community. While we appreciate your recognition that drafting and distributing the “Joint Statement on USAC Ethics” falls within the realm of free-speech, we take issue with the fact that the rest of the email is effectively an indictment of the statement that promotes an inaccurate impression of its message and intent.
You write that “just because speech is constitutionally protected doesn't mean that it is wise, fair or productive,” and then go on to add that you are “troubled that the pledge sought to delegitimize educational trips offered by some organizations but not others,” and that the statement “can reasonably be seen as trying to eliminate selected viewpoints from the discussion." These claims imply that the point of the statement was to delegitimize groups based on national and/or religious identification, or to attack students who have a certain stance on political issues. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The ethics statement is about holding student leaders accountable. It is about calling on them to become cognizant of their role as representatives for the general student body by disallowing their neutrality to be compromised by gifts and allegiances to off-campus groups, and to realize that their affiliation with the organizations in question is hurtful to various campus communities.
We are pleased that your message showed sensitivity to the experiences of students on campus, but we cannot help but note the silence in regards to the anti-Arab and Islamophobic speech being promoted by the very groups in question.
While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, Islamophobia is hateful and discriminatory, and it is beyond disheartening for us to have to defend our attempts to remind student leaders why their connection to organizations that host Islamophobic speakers and promote and distribute Islamophobic material marginalizes individuals of UCLA’s Muslim community. Additionally, these groups’ ties to anti-Armenian organizations, active roles in lobbying against US recognition of the Armenian genocide, as well as various other human rights violations alienate Afrikan, Armenian and Palestinian students.
Furthermore, we are saddened to see that despite the efforts of groups such as SJP and MSA to raise concerns about the hate-speech, threats and intimidation they have experienced on campus, it is only protecting the integrity of off-campus lobbying groups that warrants this type of intervention. This latest development seems the most recent manifestation of the very issue to which we have been attempting to call attention: that off-campus groups with a particular ideological agenda are exerting an unhealthy influence on campus affairs.
If you truly believe that discourse should remain civil, inclusive, and respectful even when disagreements are present, then surely you will take these concerns into account and realize why it is problematic to issue a message upholding the rights of student leaders to receive benefits from organizations tied to Islamophobia and other practices that marginalize various campus communities. If you truly believe that everyone’s belief, opinion and identity should be respected, then you will understand why it is disingenuous to admonish others for their rightful criticism of student leaders’ connections to such groups and remain silent about these groups’ discriminatory practices. If you truly believe in keeping our campus community as open and democratic as possible, you will understand why holding our student leaders accountable for their actions by ensuring their conduct remains unswayed by the influence of off-campus organizations is integral to the preservation of a just and transparent student government.
Finally, while your message claimed that the ethics statement singled out particular views and groups, in fact the statement called on student leaders not to accept free or sponsored trips from any organizations that marginalize campus communities, whether the organization discriminates on the basis of race, religion, color, age, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, physical ability, mental ability, marital status, financial status or social status, or engage in any other form of systematic prejudiced oppression. We would think this is a sentiment anyone honestly dedicated to fair and equal treatment should be able to get behind, and we find it unfortunate that your email presents the statement as an attempt to discriminate against others when its purpose was to promote the diminishment of discrimination by demanding more tolerant and respectful practices on behalf of our student government.
Thank you for your time.
Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA
Jewish Voice for Peace at UCLA
Afrikan Student Union at UCLA
Black Pre-Law Association at UCLA
United Arab Society
Armenian Student Association
Muslim Students Association
MeChA de UCLA
Pakistani Student Association
(to add your student group, please email firstname.lastname@example.org)
We, as UCLA students from various backgrounds and perspectives, ask that elected officials refrain from taking free or sponsored trips with AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), or Hasbara Fellowships. As many students have experienced this year, AIPAC and ADL have political agendas that marginalize multiple communities on campus. Recently, student government trips to AIPAC have come under scrutiny (1) because of the organization’s ties to anti-Armenian groups and public figures. Both AIPAC (2) and the ADL (3) (as well as its current president (4)) have histories of Islamophobia. AIPAC has sponsored Islamophobic speakers at it’s conferences (5) and has also consistently pushed for war with Iran (6), even while the Obama administration has sought a diplomatic route. AIPAC also marginalizes the Afrikan and Palestinian communities, as the organization has consistently endorsed and protected actions that have violated human rights and international law.
Hasbara Fellowships is housed under Aish International (7), an organization which has helped disseminate Islamophobic materials (8) on campuses and around the country. These materials portray the Muslim community as threats, have incited violence against Muslims, and serve to marginalize Muslim students on campus.
We further ask that USAC Council Members do not accept free or sponsored trips that marginalize communities on the UCLA campus (9). This includes any outside non-student organization that promotes discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, age, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, physical ability, mental ability, marital status, financial status or social status, or which engages in any form of systematic prejudiced oppression. The UCSA and USSA conferences are deemed acceptable as these conferences deal directly with student issues and do not marginalize any community.
Please sign as a candidate in the upcoming USAC elections assuring the campus that you will decline these trips while in elected office:
(5) see reference 2
(8) http://www.alternet.org/world/follow-money-islamophobia-israel-right-or-wrong, http://ipsnorthamerica.net/news.php?idnews=1705
(9) see reference 1
At the USAC meeting on Tuesday, February 18th, Bruins for Israel made a public presentation in which the organization repeatedly characterized Palestinians as terrorists and used racist and Islamophobic imagery and videos to create fear of SJP and of our divestment campaign. In specific, a BFI member claimed that divestment would produce an increase in terrorism and used video images of people burning flags in order to portray pro-Palestinian groups as threatening. We write to denounce these tactics and to call them out for what they are: attempts to play on anti-Arab and anti-Muslim stereotypes in order to stoke fear about Students for Justice in Palestine and to smear our campaign in lieu of presenting a convincing argument against divestment. These portrayals would be categorically unacceptable if used to describe any other population on our campus.
The issue at hand for the UCLA community is whether or not we will continue investing in companies that violate human rights, and prejudicial statements like the above only serve to deflect attention from this question and discourage free speech for fear of hateful reprisals. As an organization, we categorically oppose any form of prejudice or discrimination based on race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, disability, class, or sexual orientation, and we are proud to say that we have lived up to those standards in all of our work. We are disappointed that groups opposed to divestment have not been able to live up to the same principles. We expect that USAC and the campus community will recognize racist and Islamophobic tactics used against SJP for what they are and will resist attempts to smear students activists using racist stereotypes.