Zionists Target UCLA

by Deeg

The u.s. department of education, office of civil rights (OCR), announced two investigations against UCLA last fall for antisemitism.

This may shock some of you, because you might have thought trump’s education secretary betsy devos had already eliminated the OCR. Under her leadership, the department has undermined protections for disabled students, determined that complaints of racism cannot be based on evidence of systemic bias, and adopted new policies removing protections from transgender students. The department has dismissed race discrimination complaints and closed investigations at an unprecedented rate.

But it turns out the OCR does still exist and has a priority — attacking Palestinian student groups and academics and anyone who supports them. That’s what the investigations at UCLA are about.

The first investigation is regarding a complaint filed by Zachor legal in 2018 against a planned national Students for Justice in Palestine conference  The complaint was filed before the conference started, based on statements made on SJP websites, which state that zionism is a form of racism, a statement approved in 1975 by the United Nations General Assembly. The second complaint was filed in October 2019 by “stand with us,” a group we in QUIT! know well for their anti-queer and anti-muslim presence at our demonstrations. The SWU complaint is based on a guest lecture by san francisco state university (SFSU) professor Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi (Rabab).

Both complaints have already been investigated by UCLA, and considered to have no merit. The basis for both OCR investigations is discrimination under Title VI (T6) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in federally funded services including education based on “race, color or national origin”. (The term “race” is not defined in the Act. According to the equal employment opportunity commission, “race discrimination includes discrimination on the basis of ancestry or physical or cultural characteristics associated with a certain race, such as skin color, hair texture or styles, or certain facial features.” The EEOC lists the census categories of “American Indian or Alaska Native; Asian; Black or African American; Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander; and White; and one ethnicity category, Hispanic or Latino.” The point of this article is not to discuss the concept of “race”,  which is often an assignment made by the supremacists in power. However, the hatred, violence and discrimination directed upon people in oppressed “races” has to be recognized in order to be fought.)

Palestinian students and solidarity activists

So the UCLA investigations under T6 may be a little shocking to some of us Jews, since we, unlike hitler, don’t consider ourselves to be “a race,” don’t think Jews have a single “national origin,” and certainly are not all of the same “color.”  European descended u.s. born white Jews, such as myself, are not a protected class, as defined by EEOC, under T6. That doesn’t mean Jews don’t face hatred and discrimination, particularly from people on the right. Millions of Jews with a similar heritage as I have, were murdered by the german people in the nazi holocaust, with the willing assistance of various other European peoples. White supremacists carried out mass shootings at two synagogues within a six-month period in 2018-19. Still, being attacked by racists doesn’t make you a “race.” 

Trump and his buddies have repeatedly promoted antisemitic tropes. At trump’s Chanukah press event, he joked that Jews were greedy money-grubbers and real-estate exploiters like him, and therefore Jews should love and support him (76% of Jews voted against him in 2016, and 79% voted democratic in the 2018 midterms). He has also repeatedly stated that Jews should support him because of their primary loyalty to Israel.

Both UCLA complaints are an attempt to advance the prolonged zionist campaign to stop pro-Palestinian, and particularly boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) organizing on campus. Part of their strategy is to change the definition of antisemitism from what it commonly means — hatred, violence, intimidation or discrimination targeting Jews because of their ethnic and religious identities. The zionist objective has been to define as antisemitism any criticism of the state of Israel, and to equate Zionism with Jews. For example, The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, an intergovernmental body including the u.s., adopted a “non-binding” definition of antisemitism in 2016, that includes as examples of contemporary antisemitism,

•             “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor” and

•             “Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”

In December, in anticipation of his Chanukah party, trump issued yet another illegal executive order. It stated that the department of education would investigate antisemitism under T6. Before the EO was issued, the administration had floated the idea trump would declare Jews to be a nationality. But the EO took a step back and instead states, “While Title VI does not cover discrimination based on religion, individuals who face discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin do not lose protection under Title VI for also being a member of a group that shares common religious practices. Discrimination against Jews may give rise to a Title VI violation when the discrimination is based on an individual’s race, color, or national origin.”

The EO then goes on to cite the IHRA, and the “contemporary” examples as the basis for T6 investigations of allegations of antisemitism. This opens the door for the OCR to investigate antiracist or pro-Palestinian statements as being against Israel, and therefore as antisemitism. Therefore, the SWU complaint is demanding as a remedy from UCLA that it adopt the IHRA definition and apply it to campus events and campus speech.

The first step towards that has already been taken by SFSU. For almost 10 years, Rabab Abdulhadi has been a target for Zionists, including AMCHA, a group that specifically targets colleges and universities, the david horowitz freedom center, the canary mission, hillel, and stand with us. Lawfare has pursued Rabab with traumatic but ultimately baseless lawsuits which have been repeatedly thrown out of federal court for lack of substance. Zionists have put up posters around campus, showing Rabab and other Palestinians as terrorists, and posting personal information, placing them in danger.  

As Lawfare was losing in federal court, they brought a similar action in state court against SFSU, under California’s civil rights act, which prohibits discrimination based on “sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation, citizenship, primary language, or immigration status.” SFSU chose to “settle” this baseless case, in part by making a statement that, “includes an acknowledgement that for many Jews, Zionism is an important part of their identity.” This follows a unilateral action by former SFSU president leslie wong in his February 2018 apology to Jewish students, faculty, staff and community members which stated that Zionists were welcome on campus.

Of course, SFSU has not taken action to stop the harassment of Rabab, or members of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS). Because of the continual harassment and discrimination Rabab has faced from the SFSU administration, and the failure of the university to adequately address her complaints or their contractual obligation to support her program, Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas (AMED), Rabab has filed a lawsuit against the university. It may not surprise any of our readers that the OCR has not supported her case.

To be clear about the complaint against UCLA, anthropology professor Dr. Kyeyoung Park, invited Rabab to speak on “Islamophobia and the Attacks against Palestine Organizing and Scholarship,” as part of her class on “Constructing Race.” Two students disrupted the question and answer period by shouting, crying and talking over Rabab. Rabab maintained her cool, and supported the students’ rights to their opinions. SWU then filed a complaint with the university, and then the OCR. Fortunately, the whole class was recorded on video, and it’s pretty clear who was harassing whom. The complaints against Rabab have taken her statements out of context and misrepresented content on her website. Rabab has always placed her support for Palestinian liberation in the context of the general movement for social justice, including advocacy for women’s and queer/trans liberation. As Rabab has commented, “They seek to discredit me and my scholarship, pedagogy and advocacy and paint me as anti-Semitic hater but everywhere they look they find me advocating and practicing the Indivisibility of justice.”

Palestinians, Palestine solidarity, civil liberties, civil rights and academics are concerned that UCLA will agree to settle these complaints within the framework of the demands by SWU and the EO. This would institutionalize that criticisms of israel and zionism are antisemitic, and therefore prohibited in California schools. This is an enormous threat, and the movement is organizing to put pressure on UCLA not to settle. For more information, and current status, go to https://supportprofabdulhadi.org/, or facebook @DefendProfAbdulhadi. If you are interested in signing onto a queer letter supporting Rabab, please contact QUIT! at info@quitpalestine.org.

Author: lagai

LAGAI-Queer Insurrection is one of the oldest radical queer liberation groups in the U.S. We publish UltraViolet, a more or less bimonthly newspaper, which is mailed free of charge to over 1500 people, including over 800 prisoners. Our website is www.lagai.org.

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