Sunday, June 17, 2018

An Open Letter to UCLA President Gene Block

On May 17, Students for Justice in Palestine (UCLA) disrupted an event on campus sponsored by Students Supporting Israel. In response, the Loius D Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law sent this letter to UCLA Chancellor Gene Block.

Below is  the text of an email I have sent to UCLA Chancellor Gene Block in response to the above disruption.

Dear Chancellor Block.

My name is Gary Fouse, and I am writing to you as a concerned member of the Southern California community regarding the May 17 disruption of an event held by Students Supporting Israel. The event was disrupted by Students for Justice in Palestine.

As an adjunct teacher at UC Irvine Extension from 1998-2016, I personally witnessed disruptions by the UCI chapter of SJP whenever a pro-Israel event was held on campus by Jewish students supporting Israel. As a non-Jew, I have seen the anti-Jewish nature of these protests and the denial of First Amendment rights of students who support Israel. I have also attended countless events held by SJP and the UCI Muslim Student Union chapter and listened to the anti-Jewish rants of many of their invited speakers, people like Amir Abdel Malik Ali, Mohamad al Asi and others. For several years I have been outspoken about the problem of anti-semitism on college campuses, especially within the University of California system. During the drafting of a UC Regents Statement of Principles Against Intolerance, I spoke twice at the Regents' working groups (at UCI and UCLA).

The activities of SJP and their tactics of bullying, disruption and intimidation are not isolated incidents. They are part of a nationwide plan of operation. In 2014, the SJP chapter at the State University of New York at Binghamton issued a charter document that explicitly stated that they would disrupt pro-Israel events. We have seen this played out on far too many university campuses. SJP clearly does not respect the free speech rights of others. They are unwilling to engage in any civil dialogue with pro-Israel students. The result of this campaign on behalf of the Palestinian cause has been a climate of tension and fear for any Jewish student who supports Israel.

While I respect free speech and the right of anyone to criticize the state of Israel or any other country, may I remind you that disruption is not an exercise itself in free speech. It is a denial of the free speech rights of speakers and their audiences. It should not be tolerated.

A point to consider: In 2010, when members of the Muslim Student Union disrupted the speech of Michael Oren, Israeli ambassador to the US, at UC Irvine, criminal charges followed, and they were successfully prosecuted. In that ugly incident, in which I was present, even they did not rush the stage and get nose to nose with anyone as happened at UCLA on May 17. Though smaller in scale, the UCLA incident was worse in that verbal and physical intimidation occurred. In my opinion, the UCI case should serve as the template for disruptions of this nature. Would be disrupters should be warned that they are subject to removal and arrest by campus police with a referral for criminal prosecution to follow with the DAs' office. This should be followed up on and enforced.

I applaud the recent action of affected Jewish students in filing  a complaint with UCLA campus police. This is the course of action that should be followed at all universities.

The aforementioned Statement of Principles is now in effect and specifically addresses the problem of anti-semitism connected with the anti-Israel campus campaign. The time has come for it to be enforced.

As you know, there is a worldwide resurgence in anti-semitism. In the US, the focal point for this anti-semitism is on our college campuses. University administrators across the nation, but particularly within the University of California system, have been negligent in protecting their Jewish students.

I am calling on you to launch a formal investigation not only into the May 17 incident but SJP as a whole to determine whether they deserve recognition as a student organization.

Chancellor Block, for years  I have watched the reputation of UC Irvine, otherwise a great university, blackened because of the actions of a tiny minority of students. UCLA is on that same path, and I urge you to take strong action to stop these ugly incidents in their tracks. As one who grew up just outside Westwood, I care about what happens at UCLA. It is known as a great university. I want it to live up to that reputation.

Thank you for your attention,

Gary  Fouse

PS. This is an open letter, and I will be posting it on my blog ( I will be happy to post any response you care to send.

If any readers would like to send their own letters to Chancellor Block, his email is: Please be respectful and courteous.

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