The University of California, Los Angeles Graduate Student Association approved a resolution Wednesday calling those who do not support a pro-Palestine agenda “Islamophobic.”
“I really think that the whole bill was sort of a trap for the members,” one GSA representative told Campus Reform on condition of anonymity. “It was designed to put the Forum in a very awkward position, because if you vote against it, you’re seen as being ‘for’ anti-Arabism and Islamophobia.”
The measure begins by listing various allegations of “anti-Arabism and Islamophobia,” some involving UCLA students and others gleaned from around the state—such as “offensive posters … portraying Palestinians, Muslims, the Muslim Student Association [MSA], and Students for Justice in Palestine [SJP] as terrorists” that appeared on several UC System campuses last year, and the “blacklisting” of UCLA students engaged in pro-Palestinian activism by an extremist website.
While most of the list did not excite much debate, the final three claims raised some concerns because they ascribed Islamophobia to students who had merely expressed criticism of the SJP student group, condemning two students for “falsely accusing” Palestinian classmates of extremism in news articles and rebuking GSA President Milan Chatterjee simply for sharing one of the articles on social media.
The first article mentioned was a Daily Bruin op-ed from early February that originally referred to a “mock stabbing” demonstration by SJP during Palestine Awareness Week, but was later corrected to reflect that the group had actually conducted a “die-in,” though the author noted that the event glossed over the arguably relevant issue of knife attacks against Israeli civilians.
The second article, published in the Daily Wire by Campus Reform correspondent Pardes Seleh, accuses SJP leaders of systematically harassing Jewish students on campus as part of a campaign against a “viewpoint neutrality” policy that Chatterjee had cited when denying GSA funding for a pro-Palestinian event. Chatterjee shared the article defending his actions on social media, earning himself a spot on the resolution’s list of Islamophobic incidents.
The resolution concludes by denying that its wording is an assault on free speech, saying, “Let it be understood that this resolution should not be interpreted or construed to infringe upon the First Amendment-protected free speech rights of GSA members, officials, and other student groups affiliated with UCLA and the Graduate Student Association.”
Noticing the contradiction, one representative proposed a motion, which eventually passed, striking the word “falsely” from the first two of the controversial items and removing the mention of Chatterjee altogether. The amended resolution passed overwhelmingly, after which the GSA Forum went into executive session to approve a motion of censure against Chatterjee that will be taken up at the next scheduled meeting.
“The fact that the word ‘falsely’ was removed from the resolution proves the accuracy in my Daily Wire article, because I had given evidence and factual statements as to why the SJP is an anti-Jewish organization,” Seleh told Campus Reform. “Passing the resolution implied that the GSA equates criticism directed at the SJP and terrorist groups as ‘Islamophobia,’” she added, explaining that she had simply outlined the ways in which SJP “endorses terrorist organizations such as Hamas” and demonstrates a general anti-Israel and anti-American bias.
“I find it incredibly cowardly and even hilarious that a couple of grown anti-Israel adults needed an official resolution to vent their grievances towards me,” she remarked. “I am not upset for the outcome of the resolution; rather, I am amused that the incident once again confirms everything I had written in the past about the SJP.”