UC-Irvine Investigation Clears Pro-Israel Students of Misbehavior Accusations Made by Sanctioned BDS Group
The University of California, Irvine has dismissed charges that a pro-Israel group on campus behaved improperly toward members of Students for Justice in Palestine, following a months-long investigation.
Students Supporting Israel (SSI) faced allegations that it “aided or abetted” violations of university policy while hosting members of the advocacy group Reservists on Duty — which opposes the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel — at the school last year.
On May 10th, an SSI event featuring Israeli veterans associated with RoD was disrupted by a group of SJP protesters, who chanted, “Israel, Israel what do you say, how many kids have you killed today?” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”
UC-Irvine administrators concluded after an investigation that SJP — which supports BDS and has disrupted other pro-Israel events at the university — violated its student code of conduct during the incident, and placed the group on disciplinary probation until June 2019.
SJP has denied all wrongdoing, and instead alleged that its members were victimized during the event. It accused SSI of aiding and abetting misbehavior by RoD activists, who were tabling a booth on campus during the week of May 8th.
Written witness statements submitted to UC-Irvine’s Office of Academic Integrity and Student Conduct in the case said SJP students had been subject to verbal threats and sexually-charged statements, and accused RoD members of following SJP students to an event at California State University-Long Beach. RoD has denied these allegations.
A student conduct officer who reviewed the case said he attempted to interview those who submitted the witness statements, but “none of them agreed to speak with me, and I was unable to verify any of the allegations in their written complaints.”
“Similarly, the videos and documents that I reviewed do not indicate in any way that SSI aided or abetted the Reservists on Duty in violating University Policy,” the officer wrote. He dismissed the allegations against SSI “based upon the preponderance of evidence standard.”
SSI founder and president Ilan Sinelnikov applauded the investigation’s conclusion, saying it fully exonerated his group’s UC-Irvine chapter.
“It’s important other universities do the same when these groups attempt to use these tactics to discredit our organization, and expose these [groups’] fraught relationship with truth and facts,” he argued.
Kevin Brum, president of UC-Irvine’s SSI chapter, expressed concern that SJP’s “false” claims serve to “damage the credibility of people who have faced sexual assault, physical harassment, and more.”
“The school saw through what these false accusations were — a disgusting attempt to try to drag SSI down with SJP,” Brum said. “The truth has spoken.”
Amit Deri, the head of RoD, likewise said SJP was “in the business of lying about Israel, so it is not a big leap to lie about the behavior of pro-Israel organizations.”
SJP did not respond to a request for comment by publication time.