Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is an anti-Semitic group that harasses Jewish students and demonizes Israel at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Their intimidation has reached a new low: bullying a graduate student leader to fund their anti-Semitic propaganda.
For the past three months SJP, a sympathizer with both Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, has used all the legal and media resources it could muster to relentlessly bully Graduate Student Association (GSA) President Milan Chatterjee after his administration chose to remain neutral rather than support SJP’s radical movement to “Boycott, Divest, and Sanction” Israel (BDS). Although Chatterjee’s administration was in line with GSA policy and the law, SJP enlisted the radical American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Palestine Legal (PL) to send lawyers after Chatterjee and intimidate him.
The ACLU is making a frivolous legal allegation that the GSA engaged in “viewpoint discrimination” by choosing to remain neutral on the BDS movement.
Erwin Chemerinsky, a leading American constitutional law scholar, wrote that GSA’s policy is “viewpoint neutral and is consistent with the First Amendment.” ACLU’s spurious allegation has also been thoroughly debunked by the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ).
The ACLU and PL, desperate to push their frivolous claim that Chatterjee has in some way violated the law, spend a great deal of valueless time propagandizing in the UCLA student newspaper; claiming that “there are not two sides to this issue; it’s not up for debate.” The ACLU has even sent lawyers to disrupt GSA meetings.
Now SJP is demanding that the GSA amend its policies so that the GSA will be required to finance SJP’s anti-Semitic activities, under the false guise of "viewpoint neutrality." In a whiny resolution sent to GSA representatives, SJP demanded the GSA apologize for remaining neutral on its divisive BDS platform:
Let it finally be resolved that the GSA extends its apologies to all students affected by this incident.
Radical SJP activists Rahim Kurwa and Yacoub Kureh, infamous for their militant harassment of Jewish students, are leading the initiative to force the GSA to fund their anti-Semitic activities. Kurwa once appeared on a panel with a Hamas supporter in Spain. Kureh placed mock eviction notices targeting Jewish students in dorm rooms during his undergraduate years at Harvard. The pair have elicited help from Ian Coley, a GSA Math and Physical Sciences (MPSC) representative, to bully GSA officers and advance SJP’s anti-Semitic interests.
A staunch ally of SJP, Coley voted against a recent GSA resolution condemning anti-Semitism. He was also at the forefront of a failed effort to block the GSA’s endorsement of pro-Israel advocate and UC Regent Avi Oved’s plan to create a Student Advisor position—an initiative that would boost student representation on the UC Board of Regents.
During his undergraduate years as a member of the diversity committee at Northwestern University, Coley reportedly led opposition against the appointment of a student to a “diversity and inclusion post” for being a “heterosexual white male,” stating:
This university is not ready, in any capacity, for a heterosexual white male to be in charge in any way of diversity and inclusion. I don’t know if any university is.
Coley, a friend of Kureh, poses as a sidekick to the anti-Semitic hate group. At a GSA meeting in January, Coley suggested that GSA cabinet officers “need to be slapped around.” Outside of the GSA, Coley has brought up the idea to impeach GSA cabinet members, allegedly in an attempt for Coley and his SJP sidekicks to take over the GSA leadership.
The UCLA administration, under Chancellor Gene Block and Vice Chancellor Janina Montero, have refused to take a stance on this issue and even condemn the legal intimidation used against Chatterjee.
GSA leaders face opposition regardless of the turnout in this case. If SJP’s amendment passes, GSA leaders will likely face large-scale lawsuits from various groups for funding divisive and hateful events under SJP. Moreover, as the GSA continues to be targeted from all sides, the UCLA administration will not provide any support during these legal actions, as they have proven in the current case.
The ACLU speaks falsehood in its claim that the adoption of the SJP legislation is necessary in order for the GSA to be in adherence with the First Amendment. According to legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky, “subject matter choices are permissible in allocating student activity fees,” and the “GSA may choose that it is not going to fund any speech or events on the topic of abortion, or gun control, or whether there is life on Mars. But once GSA chooses to fund speech and events on a topic, it cannot fund one viewpoint and not others.”
Out of respect to the UCLA community, and in adherence to its duties as a neutral governing body, the GSA will likely abstain from supporting any side of divisive and hateful issues, which is constitutional according to Erwin Chemerinsky. However, if the GSA adopts SJP’s amendment, the organization would be curtailing its own First Amendment rights and be obligated to fund all divisive and hateful events, exposing itself to expensive lawsuits.
To protect the greater UCLA community, the GSA should vote against the disingenuous and dangerous amendment being presented by SJP radicals under the guise of “viewpoint neutrality.”
Furthermore, UCLA’s administration should issue a statement discrediting ACLU’s frivolous legal allegation and making it clear that legal intimidation—as used by the SJP, ACLU, and PL against student leaders like Chatterjee—will not be tolerated.