LA City Council Urges UCLA Not To Host SJP Conference

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed a resolution urging UCLA not to allow Student for Justice in Palestine (SJP) to hold its annual conference on the campus, the Jewish Journal reported Tuesday.

Part of the resolution reads, “SJP members have posted violent anti-Semitic rhetoric on social media, ranging from calling for the annihilation of the Jewish people, to the admiration of Adolf Hitler and hateful calls to ‘kill Jews’ ‘kill all Zionists’ and ‘let’s stuff some Jews in the oven.’”

Also, according to the resolution, SJP, by “comparing Israel to the Nazis” on its website, violates the definition of anti-Semitism formulated by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

Councilman Paul Koretz, who introduced the resolution, said that he feared that the conference would “promote anti-Semitism.”

The resolution also noted that by only allowing participants at the conference who were approved by SJP or other pro-Palestinian campus groups, the conference could run afoul of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of “race, color, or national origin in federally assisted programs or activities.”

“A public university should not allow any group to implement a litmus test for event participation on their campus based on an attendee’s beliefs, religion, or national origin,” the resolution says.

A similar issue faced the American Studies Association in 2014 when it rented a Los Angeles hotel to host its conference after it passed a resolution supporting an academic boycott of Israel. At the time, the American Center for Law & Justice sent a letter to the Westin Bonaventure Hotel stating that by hosting a conference from which Israeli academics would be barred, it would violate California law by discriminating on the basis of “national origin, race, and religion.”

“As a UCLA alumnus and as the City Councilmember representing the Fifth District that includes UCLA, I am shocked and disappointed that the University would allow such an event to occur on campus,” Koretz wrote in a letter to UCLA Chancellor Gene Block.

In an apparent reference to an incident in May, when members of SJP disrupted a pro-Israel event, Koretz later wrote, “Although UCLA has a responsibility to allow freedom of speech, our campuses should never become an environment where students of any origin are harassed, bullied, or prohibited from learning.”

Last month, Block rejected a request from Rep. Brad Sherman (D – Calif.) not to allow the conference to be held on UCLA’s campus.

The University of California’s Board of Regents unanimously approved a “Statement of Principles Against Intolerance,” which included “anti-semitic forms of anti-Zionism.” These were defined as “opposition to Zionism,” which “often is expressed in ways that are not simply statements of disagreement over politics and policy, but also assertions of prejudice and intolerance toward Jewish people and culture.” A conference that equates Zionism with “ethnic cleansing, destruction, mass expulsion, apartheid, and death,” would appear to violate this standard.

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