Pro-Israel Groups Claim Criminal Action Took Place at UC-Irvine Protest, Call on School to Hold Perpetrators ‘Accountable’
Three major pro-Israel groups have claimed that University of California-Irvine (UCI) students committed criminal acts at a protest of a Zionist event in May and have now called on the administration to hold the perpetrators “accountable.”
In a letter sent on July 6 to UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman and Douglas M. Haynes, the vice provost for academic equity, diversity and inclusion, Students Supporting Israel (SSI), StandWithUs (SWU) and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law alleged that individual members of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) committed “the misdemeanor of Disturbing a Public Meeting,” and were also guilty of “violating multiple UCI policies.”
The letter came after the three organizations contacted UCI about SJP’s role, as a group, in the sustained shout-down of an IDF “Reservists on Duty” panel on May 10, and the resulting call by program organizers for a police escort to lead attendees out of the building though a side door.
The incident occurred almost exactly a year after SJP disrupted an Israel-related film being shown on campus, for which SJP was issued a warning that SWU lawyer Yael Lerman told The Algemeiner amounted to a “slap on the wrist.”
This time, pro-Israel leaders are hoping for more, especially given that individual students involved in this most recent incident have been identified through the extensive video footage available online and accused of “illegal and discriminatory disruption.”
Ilan Sinelnikov — founder of the grassroots activist network SSI, whose UCI chapter hosted the May program — said SJP had “crossed all the lines.”
“Our initial anticipation was that SJP needs to be suspended from campus,” he said.
SSI has also come under investigation by UCI administrators, after allegations that the visiting soldiers “verbally threatened, sexually harassed and followed members” of SJP, according to an email sent to SSI seen by The Algemeiner.
Sinelnikov rejected the accusations against the soldiers, who he said he knows personally, and was incredulous that SSI was being investigated.
“There are people who did the wrong thing and people who did the right thing [at the May 10 panel],” he said. “SJP did the wrong thing. But instead of holding the people who did wrong responsible, they [UCI] say there’s no black and white.”
Sinelnikov said he does not expect UCI’s SSI will be suspended.
Canary Mission, an anonymous campus watchdog, compiled a dossier earlier this month on 13 anti-Israel activists at UCI involved in the May incident, five of whom the group identified as also being members of the school’s student government.
They included Jeanine Erikat, an at-large senator for the student government’s advocacy committee, who shouted at the reservists during the panel that the IDF is “a military where they murder kids and families and they arrest children.”
Canary Mission also released information on the ostensible leader of the protest, Celine Qussiny, who guided the demonstrators in chants that included calls in favor of violence.
Qussiny was one of the recipients of UCI’s reprimand last year of SJP, in which she was cited as an “authorized signer” for the group. She has expressed support for convicted Palestinian terrorists on social media, including lauding those behind stabbing attacks as heroes and martyrs.