A group of Jewish students from the Students Supporting Israel chapter at UCLA have filed a complaint with campus police after the March 17 disruption of one of their events by the brown shirt Students for Justice in Palestine. This is an response that should spread to other US university campuses where SJP and their allies have disrupted Jewish/pro-Israel events.
A point to consider: In 2010, when members of the Muslim Student Union disrupted the speech of Michael Oren, Israeli ambassador to the US, at UC Irvine, criminal charges followed and they were successfully prosecuted. In that ugly incident, in which I was present, even they did not rush the stage and get nose to nose with anyone. Though smaller in scale, the UCLA incident was worse in that verbal and physical intimidation occurred.
It is time for affected students and groups to start filing similar complaints at other universities. At the university level, the UC Irvine/Oren event should be the template for people who try to shut down and disrupt events with which they don’t agree. Similarly, the complaint filed by the Jewish students at UCLA should be the template for those who are adversely affected by these disruptions. While protesting is protected by our Constitution, disruptions are not. What disruptions do is take away the First Amendment rights of speakers and their audiences. Today’s campus disruptions have also degenerated into flat out disturbance of the peace and should be treated as such. We should also note that anti-Israel events are rarely if ever disrupted even as many of the pro-Palestinian speakers use language that goes far beyond opposing Israel’s policies. It often amounts to flat out Jew hatred. To their shame, universities across the nation have tolerated and turned a blind eye to it for too long. The University of California campuses stand out as among the worst offenders.
Aside from local action, I would go a step further. It is time for the US Justice Department to investigate Students for Justice in Palestine. Their campus chapters across the nation engage in this type of disruption. A charter document of the State University of New York at Binghamton SJP chapter written in 2014 states explicitly that they will engage in disruptions of pro-Israel events. This is basically a nation-wide organizational conspiracy to intimidate and bully pro-Israel students and deprive them of their own First Amendment rights.
I commend the courageous students at UCLA who have taken this step. I hope it will be supported by the community and emulated at other campuses.