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April 1, 2016 8:10 am

Students for Justice in Palestine, UC Berkeley Administrators Clash With Pro-Israel Group on Campus

avatar by Andrew Pessin

Tikvah students demonstrating Tuesday. Photo: Facebook

Tikvah students demonstrating Tuesday. Photo: Facebook

A group of pro-Israel students stood opposite a mock “apartheid wall” and checkpoint dominating the center thoroughfare of the University of California, Berkeley campus Tuesday to provide a counter-narrative, its leader told The Algemeiner on Thursday.

Michaela Fried, President of Tikvah: Students For Israel, said that her group came out to contrast the display by Berkeley’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). But, she said, it also had to deal with an “inordinate presence” of campus administrators, “who on multiple occasions asked us to move our counter-demonstration further away and to not hold signs near the ‘apartheid wall,’ severely limiting our ability to make our voices heard.”

Nevertheless, she said, she felt they had achieved their goal of presenting “compelling and eye-catching images which people deeply connect to.” She explained that they had chosen to protest specifically the intentional violent targeting of civilians, which “occurs so frequently in Israel and elsewhere in the world. We stood holding the names, pictures and stories of victims of recent terror attacks directed at Israeli civilians.”

Tensions are often high between SJP and her group, Fried added, since some members of each group are “connected to what is going on in the Middle East because they have family there.” Although they sometimes know each other from classes, their interactions in Sproul Plaza, the center of student activity at Berkeley, are “usually hostile,” whether during demonstrations or weekly tabling events.

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One member of SJP told The Daily Californian that he was offended by some of the signs held by Tikvah protesters. He emphasized that SJP does not condone stabbings or terrorism, saying, “To imply that we are okay with Jews being stabbed in Israel is offensive and wrong.”

The wall and checkpoint were constructed as part of SJP’s “Palestine Awareness Week,” which concluded Thursday with a march and “die-in” in downtown Berkeley.

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