Will Your College Rep Take The Anti-Israel Pledge?

It happened this month at UCLA. Which campus will be next? In a strategically brilliant – but wholly racist and disgusting move – several campus student clubs at UCLA accused two elected student leaders of not being impartial after they took trips to Israel. The groups further asked student candidates for campus elected positions to pledge not to take certain trips to Israel.

At UCLA, 22 out of thirty candidates for student government offices at the public university said they would not take trips to Israel that are sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League, the Hasbara Fellowships/AISH, or the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Eighteen of the thirty signed a pledge prior to the voting.

No candidates on the Bruins United ticket signed the pledge. They refused. The newly elected president of the student government, Devin Murphy, did sign the pledge. He won with 50.2% of the votes cast. He narrowly beat Bruins United candidate Sunny Singh. Murphy traveled to Israel in January 2013 on a trip sponsored by the American Jewish Committee, but he wasn’t a member of the student council at that time. A point he made clear at a campus hearing.

Additionally, on Thursday, May 15, UCLA’s Judicial Board will hold an open hearing regarding the accusation that Undergraduate Students Association Council (USAC) General Representative Sunny Singh and USAC Financial Supports Commissioner Lauren Rogers engaged in a conflict of interest by voting on the UCLA BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) divestment resolution when they had gone on free trips to Israel while in office. The accusers are UCLA’s Students for Justice in Palestine.

Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA members challenged the legitimacy of the votes against divestment that were made by 2 undergraduates. The group delivered a petition to the USAC Judicial Board that claimed that a summer ADL trip to Israel by Singh and a winter trip to Israel with Project Interchange by Rogers were conflicts of interest. By seeing Israel up close and personal, they would not be sufficiently impartial to vote for the University of California and UCLA to divest itself from Israel. Last quarter, the USAC voted down the resolution by secret ballot. The vote was 5-7-0 , and Rogers and Singh spoke against the resolution.

So, does this mean that studying about any subject or issue, such as Israel, is a conflict of interest? Should elected leaders refrain from educational trips, conferences, events, and panels? Does eating a matza ball – or worse, a felafel – represent a conflict of interest?

Dana Seifan, a UCLA senior and president of Students for Justice in Palestine said that, “Whether their intention was for education or something else, the fact remains that the [sponsoring] organizations themselves have anti-divestment agendas.”

The ADL, a trip sponsor, and other area groups stated that the on-campus student groups (Jewish Voice for Peace, the Armenian Students’ Association, Students for Justice in Palestine, the Muslim Students Association, the Afrikan Student Union and Samahang Pilipino) are unfairly targeting Israel. The ADL statement said, “This effort is just another strategy to delegitimize Israel and reflects how far the anti-Israel movement is willing to go in order to stifle voices…” Roz Rothstein, the CEO of StandWithUs, said these groups are attempting to limit [students’] understanding of Israel. Rothstein also implied that that if candidates for campus leadership could not learn about Israel at a university, then candidates should also refrain from associating with the BDS movement, attend divestment training sessions, or Students for Justice in Palestine conferences – which promote hatred and marginalizes so many students.

The ADL’s Pacific Southwest regional director, Amanda Susskind, characterized the accusations in the pledge as “repugnant” and “misguided.” The pledge stated the the trip sponsors marginalizaed students, supported Islamphobia, and wanted war with Iran. “The suggestion that the trips somehow taint participants also assumes that they have no ability to judge for themselves about the experiences to which they have been exposed,” Susskind wrote.

David Nusbaum, a junior, and Luba Ismakov, a senior, both board members of Bruins for Israel, wrote that they have witnessed a troubling double standard targeting Jewish and pro-Israel students and organizations on campus. That while it is cloaked in the language of “ethics,” “marginalization” and “human rights,” the initiative is actually about denying a narrative and represents a frontal assault on dialogue, education and constitutionally protected rights. Further, they asserted that the groups that circulated the joint statement of ethics are calling for the effective blacklisting of only Jewish and pro-Israel organizations from campus life and politics.

Note: I am using the generally accepted terms of junior and senior instead of the popular third-year and fourth-year terms. I apoligize if these terms taint anyone.

3 Comments

  1. themiddle

    5/15/2014 at 1:05 pm

    The ADL should start sponsoring student trips to Syria instead.

  2. A.F. Kaplan

    5/15/2014 at 5:13 pm

    What can I say….Not only are these efforts by the so-called “Students for Justice in Palestine” an effort to stifle academic discourse and Constitutional Rights to Free Speech and Free Association, but they are frankly insulting the intellectual capacity of those students who took the trips to Israel.

    This group makes the assumption that the students in question who traveled to Israel cannot interpret for themselves or make decisions for themselves about what they saw and were exposed to while they were in Israel solely on the basis of who paid for trips in question. They did not produce any supporting evidence that there was influence exercised on the students who took the trips.

    Exposing oneself to new experiences, new places and new cultures, along with free and unfettered discourse about the experiences, places and cultures that one has been exposed to is at the very heart and soul of what academia is supposed to be about. If these “Students for Justice in Palestine” were to get their way, it would have a profoundly chilling effect on the academic experience in this country at the collegiate level. Making accusations of bias and undue influence are not enough; you need to back it up with proof, people!

    If this organization has its own opinions about Israel, fine. If it feels the need to speak publicly about those opinions about Israel, that is the organization’s Constitutional Right, but they DO NOT have the right use unfounded accusations of influence peddling to interfere or otherwise stifle other students or student groups from pursuing their own exposure to and forming their own opinions and discourse about Israel.

  3. moishela

    5/29/2014 at 9:23 am

    BS”D
    Discussion with Moishela (with his family)
    A Handicapped child
    1 Iyar 5774 (April 30, ’14)

    “L’Shanah Haba’ah B’Yerushalayim”

    Time is moving on and speeding up. I can’t say that we’re moving at the speed of light, but we’re moving on. It’s like a tank, a large tank that moves slowly but is very deadly and we are moving onwards forwards into the Nevuas of Hashem. Now we can see much more clearly what is on the horizon and if we look closely through our binoculars we can see clearly destruction and death, Shelo Naida.

    We can see clearly how every single prophecy is coming true. On one hand it’s very frightening. On the other hand it gives us hope. It gives us hope that finally, finally we’re coming to the end of this terrible Golus; this most difficult time in all of our history, running from country to country every time the Goyim started killing us, trying to find a place where we could live in peace and worship Hakodosh Boruch Hu in every way without being attacked. We had to move from place to place and we had to reestablish ourselves financially so that we would have bread to give our children, our families. We suffered the fear of going upwards and then falling downwards in our spirituality. All of this will soon be over and it can be seen already with the naked eye, so-to-speak. Maybe we need the help of the binoculars, but we can see it already. We can smell the smoke of war and we can taste it as well.

    We can understand now in our minds how two thirds of the world can be destroyed and we can be so depressed with this thought that we hopefully can forget our extreme Gashmiusdik world and decide finally to do true Teshuva. So I think my fellow Jews that it is time. It is time right now before the real troubles start. It is time to do Teshuva and to learn to depend only on Hakodosh Boruch Hu. Hashem is giving us many incentives for this, and many ways to learn to come so close to Him, so that you will fear nothing but Him. It’s our job to start to learn, how to be true Avdai Hashem and Ovdai Hashem. I hope and I pray that all Am Yisroel, every single one of Am Yisroel, will take my message seriously and stop with all the nonsense that most of you are occupied with. Push it all aside. See it for what it is – emptiness, and come closer to Hashem which is everything, all-encompassing, which is totally spiritual in nature and come close to the only Truth which is so absolutely Divine, so absolutely beautiful and pleasant and wonderful and all-encompassing that you will soon forget the hard grimy materialistic world and be swept up in the beauty and the holiness of the spiritual world of Hakodosh Boruch Hu, Hakol Yachol, the Creator of all existence.

    Can you just imagine looking up and seeing the third Bais Hamikdosh looming above us, inviting us to come and bring Karbonos, finally after so many years? Can you imagine that? It will turn from a dream to reality, but we have to really desire this. We have to really long for it in order that we will also be Zoche to be part of it. L’shana Haba’ah B’yerushalayim, Yerushalayim Habenuyah!

    Sefiras Haomer this year, is part of the countdown. We are going now from slavery to freedom and we are going to see many miracles on the way so between when we began counting until Shavuos there will be many changes in this world, difficult changes. It will be hard to understand maybe for many, but in the end all of the pieces of the puzzle will be put together and we’ll see a clear vision of what Hashem wants from us. We will also be aware of what this distorted world has taken away from us. Everything will be clear, pristine clear, clear as can be. We will have no doubts. We will trust Hashem completely.

    I feel that Lag Baomer this year is going to symbolize the end of a certain way of doing things. I feel that things are going to change drastically after Lag Baomer, in Eretz Yisroel and generally in the world. We are looking for tremendous changes after Lag Baomer, and by Shavuos and after Shavuos, tremendous changes.

    Q: How are these changes different then the last 13 years?
    A: Well in the last 13 years the world has changed completely. It has become a world that once was frivolous and on the surface happy. Everybody running off to Europe or Israel from Brazil to Africa to Thailand and every place in the world. It was a time of Gashmius above and beyond anything we could dream of. Now things have gone down in the Gashmius very much. People are confused because the world has become threatening and dark. People are afraid to fly. People don’t have the money to go on vacations and never mind vacations, people don’t even have money for food. Fear hovers over the world. People are afraid because it has become a harsh and very difficult world and most people are living with a tremendous fear and rightfully so. ….

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