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May 27, 2016 4:23 am

Student Protesters at UC Irvine Justify Violent Actions at Pro-Israel Campus Event Where They Shouted ‘All White People Need to Die’

avatar by Lea Speyer

The anti-Israel mob at University of California, Irvine on May 18. Photo: Paula Prizio.

The anti-Israel mob at University of California, Irvine on May 18. Photo: Paula Prizio.

Members of two prominent student groups who took part in a violent protest against a pro-Israel event at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) are attempting to justify their actions, following intense backlash and calls for legal action against them.

UCI’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) each released separate statements defending their sponsorship of and participation in the demonstration against a Student’s Supporting Israel (SSI) event featuring Israel Defense Forces (IDF) veterans and the screening of a movie about the army.

As The Algemeiner reported, anti-Israel students at UCI blockaded attendees. One female student was harassed and chased, to the point that she was forced to flee and take refuge inside a nearby building. Police were eventually called in, but allowed the protest to continue. Protesters shouted ,“Long live the intifada,” “f*** the police,” “displacing people since ‘48/ there’s nothing here to celebrate” and “all white people need to die.”

SJP said they were “wholly justified” in protesting the SSI event, because “the presence of the IDF, better known as Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF), and police threatened our coalition of Arab, Jewish, Black, Latinx, API, undocumented, trans, and queer students and the greater activist community. Our demonstration was held to protest the presence of military and police forces on campus, which threaten the lives of Black and Brown people every day.”

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The student group said Israel-US ties in the field of security are “particularly disturbing and violent,” and both countries “justify genocidal and violent policies that criminalize dissent and liberatory, abolitionist and anti-colonial movements and struggles.” Israel, SJP contended, uses the military aid it receives each year from the US to “create weapons and military technologies that are largely tested in Gaza, which functions as the biggest open-air prison and laboratory for Israeli weapons-testing.”

Many students at UCI, the group said, view the presence of former IDF soldiers on campus as “extremely triggering.” Taking issue with those pro-Israel students who were made to feel threatened, SJP stated, “For opposing students to claim to feel unsafe at the presence of protesters is incomparable to the fear and vulnerability of Palestinians who face violence at gunpoint by IOF forces and who are facing systematic genocide, ethnic cleansing and erasure as a part of their colonization of Palestinian land.”

JVP, for its part, accused SSI and UCI’s College Republican’s of “falsify[ing] the entire event to campus administration.”

“The libelous articles that have come out along with [UCI Chancellor] Howard Gillman’s statement about the event have not taken into account of the side of the protesters. These parties have demonstrated that they have no real interest in reaching out to or understanding the protesters, many of whom found the presence of the IDF on campus to exacerbate an already-very-present threat of racialized violence here,” JVP stated.

Similarly, JVP said the demonstration constituted a protest against “the presence of Israeli occupation forces on campus, as well as the general normalization of police and military presence,” adding, “Students at UCI have consistently challenged police and military presence because of the threat it poses to them, only to face harsh consequences from administration and conservative media.”

JVP accused UCI administration of silencing protesters, stating, “The lengths to which this administration will go to tar demonstrators with false accusations and criminalize them…indicates a deeply embedded racial-supremacist logic.”

On Wednesday, thirty-six Jewish and civil rights groups penned an open letter to UCI’s chancellor, calling on him to implement the two-month-old University of California Regents “Statement Against Intolerance,” which asserts that antisemitism and antisemitic forms of anti-Zionism “have no place at the University of California (UC).”

“Acts of anti-Jewish violence and aggression do not occur in a vacuum,” the letter stated. “They often grow out of a campus environment steeped in hateful anti-Zionist expression that uses classic antisemitic tropes to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish state and those who support it.”

According to UCI, an internal investigation has been launched into the events surrounding the protest, including identifying those who were present. It remains unclear when the university will release the findings of the investigation.

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