JVP at University of California-Irvine statement on recent protest
The following statement is from Jewish Voice for Peace students at University of California–Irvine:
On Wednesday May 18, a coalition of students including APSA, AISA, BSU, MeCHA, SJP, La Resilencia, MSU and JVP protested an event in which soldiers from the Israeli Defense Forces were invited on campus to present a film. Although the protest was wholly peaceful, and did not violate campus policy in any way, a number of students from College Republicans and Students Supporting Israel managed to falsify the entire event to campus administration. The protesters were accompanied by legal observers though, who can verify that they did not at any point block an entrance, or “create a safety hazard.” The facts will show that the protest took place outside the room in which the event was held, and did not prevent anyone from getting into or out of it. The libelous articles that have come out along with Howard Gillman’s statement about the event have not taken into account of the side of the protesters. These parties have demonstrated that they have no real interest in reaching out to or understanding the protesters, many of whom found the presence of the IDF on campus to exacerbate an already-very-present threat of racialized violence here.
The demonstration was held to challenge the presence of Israeli occupation forces on campus, as well as the general normalization of police and military presence. Students at UCI have consistently challenged police and military presence because of the threat it poses to them, only to face harsh consequences from administration and conservative media. The presence of IDF soldiers in particular, is triggering to many students, especially those of Palestinian descent whose families or who personally have experienced direct violence by the IDF. In light of this, it is wholly within the rights of students to advocate on their own behalf and protest against the presence of Israeli military.
The lengths to which this administration will go to tar demonstrators with false accusations and criminalize them — so that their voices will not be heard in this matter — indicates a deeply embedded racial-supremacist logic. There have been countless incidents, reported and unreported, to which administration has never been responsive, including (significantly) an incident in which two members of SJP were cornered and harassed by a visiting IDF soldier just two years ago. The group of protesters had every right to express anger and outrage over the SSI’s invitation of IDF to campus, as well as over recent statements by College Republicans. David Horowitz was recently invited by College Republicans to give a talk on Palestine, only to incite the students there with hateful Islamophobic ideology and an encouragement to “strike back” against Arab students on campus. These so-called “sentiments” and “attitudes” are reflective of and actively defend a system of Islamophobic, anti-Black, and white supremacist domination that leads to the global oppression of Arabs, Muslims, Black people, and Indigenous people.
It is for these reasons that JVP at UCI supports the protesters and condemns the ludicrous and clearly racist logic of the administrators in dealing with this matter.