College and university students have been at the forefront of the movement for justice in Palestine in the United States. This also means students are often the first targets of Israel lobby groups seeking to pressure schools and government bodies to punish those of us advocating for the human rights of Palestinians. In response to just such pressure, the administration at University of California Irvine (UCI) has recently sanctioned their campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine with two years probation, 12 mandatory meetings to discuss free speech, and a requirement to meet with administrators two weeks before hosting any event. Their reason for this punishment? Members of SJP chanted and clapped at a May 10 event featuring Israeli soldiers, when a member of the soldiersâ€™ entourage physically assaulted a student.
This is a violation of UCI SJP studentsâ€™ First Amendment rights, and is a move to repress principled activism on campus, especially when on behalf of Palestinian rights. SJP has filed an appeal in protest of the UCI administrationâ€™s actions.
Our allies at Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) have issued a statement of support for those students. Please add your name to this letter calling on administrators at UCI not to punish their students.