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September 14, 2017 9:57 am

Dozens of Groups Praise UC-Irvine for Disciplining Notorious Anti-Israel Group SJP, Prioritizing Free Speech and Student Safety

avatar by Shiri Moshe

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The UC-Irvine campus. Photo: UC-Irvine.

Fifty-four organizations commended the chancellor of University of California-Irvine on Tuesday for placing his school’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) on probation after it disrupted an event hosted by pro-Israel students earlier this year.

The May 10 panel — organized by a local chapter of Students Supporting Israel (SSI) and featuring young Israeli veterans — was interrupted by some 40 protesters who shouted incendiary chants, including “Israel, Israel what do you say, how many kids have you killed today?” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

The protesters blocked the room’s main exit to the building and event participants eventually had to be escorted out with police protection.

After interviewing several witnesses and reviewing video evidence, the university concluded that the SJP members’ behavior violated the student code of conduct. The group has a history of using threatening tactics to derail events on campus, and was consequently placed on probation until June 16, 2019, though it is appealing the decision.

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In a letter to UC-Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman, dozens of faith, education and civil rights groups — representing hundreds of thousands of supporters — praised the university for disciplining SJP, which they said “intentionally suppressed the freedom of speech, assembly and association of Jewish and pro-Israel students on your campus.”

Organized by the AMCHA Initiative, the letter also listed a number of recommendations for further steps that university administrators could take to protect the rights and safety of their students.

Among the signatories of the letter was UC-Irvine’s branch of SSI, whose founder and president, Kevin Brum, told The Algemeiner on Wednesday that the group was “glad that the school is taking SJP’s actions more seriously.”

“We would’ve liked to [have] seen stricter action due to SJP’s past behavior, but are still very happy to see the prioritization of student safety and freedom of speech,” Brum added. “It’s certainly a big step in the right direction.”

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