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May 23, 2016 2:38 pm

Student Group Mulls Legal Action Against Violent Anti-Israel Protesters ‘If University Sweeps Incident Under the Table’

avatar by Lea Speyer

Hundreds of students at UC Irvine showed up in solidarity with Students Supporting Israel the day after a violent anti-Israel protest disrupted a campus event. Photo: SSI.

Hundreds of students at UC Irvine showed up in solidarity with Students Supporting Israel the day after a violent anti-Israel protest disrupted a campus event. Photo: SSI.

If an internal investigation into last week’s violent, anti-Israel protest at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) “sweeps the behavior of the demonstrators under the table,” legal action will be pursued, the founder of a grassroots, pro-Israel organization told The Algemeiner on Monday.

Ilan Sinelnikov, founder and president of Students Supporting Israel (SSI), was referring to an aggressive protest Wednesday evening, held by members of the local chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and the Muslim Student Union (MSU), against the screening of “Beneath the Helmet,” a documentary film that follows the lives of IDF soldiers.

As reported by The Algemeiner, during their demonstration, the students 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.” Pro-Israel students in attendance at the screening, along with IDF veterans, were barricaded inside the building, and though police were called, the protest was allowed to continue. One female student was harassed and chased, to the point that she was forced to flee and take refuge inside a nearby building.

Following the protest, UCI’s SJP issued a statement on Facebook, gloating about how they had “successfully demonstrated against the presence of IDF soldiers on campus.” The group accused Israel of enforcing policies of “Zionist settler colonialism and military occupation of Palestinian land,” murdering Palestinians in cold-blood and using “Gaza as a laboratory for weapons testing.”

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According to Sinelnikov, police and campus officials are working to identify the perpetrators. “The university is taking this very seriously, and we should have the results of its investigation by the end of the week. The best scenario is that the university will take action against the student protesters, either suspending individuals or even suspending SJP as a whole from campus. However, if that doesn’t happen and the students are cleared, then we will be looking into filing police complaints and/or lawsuits against the students,” he warned.

SJP, Sinelnikov said, “could do whatever they wanted without any consequences for years. Now we are going after the students and those involved, so they cannot continue disrupting and shutting down pro-Israel events.”  

Sinelnikov told The Algemeiner that what is even “more incredible” about the aftermath of the protest is that the following day, on Thursday, “SSI hosted a big event at UCI and it was attended by hundreds of students showing their solidarity with us.”

The event, which took place outdoors in a public space, featured tables of pro-Israel organizations, artists, Israeli music and the distribution of materials about Israel. “There wasn’t even one protest against us,” he said. “Everything went down perfectly and this, on its own, is a victory.”

Thursday’s UCI event is reflective of SSI’s overall strategy in combating those who seek to shut down the student group’s Israel advocacy, Sinelnikov explained.

“The best way we arm students is to give them every possible scenario that did happen and can happen against their events. At the same time, we tell students that from the moment they put up a flier for the event, people will try to stop them, but they must try to follow through and finish the event. After that, we will deal with the consequences and issue an even stronger pro-Israel message on campus,” he said. Just like the Israeli people face terror and violence and it doesn’t stop them, the terror and violence SSI faces on campus for our Israel advocacy work will only make us stronger, and our message will go farther not only at UC Irvine, but on every SSI campus across the country. We will not let anyone stop our events from happening and the next time, they will be even bigger and better.”

SSI is among the more rapidly growing pro-Israel campus movements in North America. It currently operates 43 college and university chapters across the country.

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