Anti-Zionist Conference at UCLA
My name is Darion Ouliguian, and it is my honor to serve as this year’s Bruins for Israel (BFI) President.
I know many of you are concerned about a national anti-Israel conference coming to campus in November, led by a group which espouses the delegitimization of Israel and seeks to dismantle it through Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). I am joined by the leaders of Students Supporting Israel (SSI) and many other groups here at UCLA in saying that we fundamentally reject this hateful attack on the Jewish homeland.
Over the past several months, we have been working closely with Hillel, UCLA administrators, and a group of 20+ national pro-Israel partners to ensure both the safety and security of students here on campus. We have also already begun to execute a comprehensive action plan which you can support by clicking here.
Our strategy is designed to address the broadest audience possible. Rather than interfering with their right to assemble, we will instead be organizing a series of events before, during and after the conference which will educate and empower students. Our programs will showcase the nature of Israel and her supporters and their desire for peace and co-existence.
Photo by Joyce Chang
We will not be defined by their agenda. Rather, we will continue to engage with thousands of students at UCLA through positive and proactive messaging and programming. We will bring real Israelis and Palestinians to campus who are working together towards peace and co-existence.
Our programming is not intended to “combat” or “debate” the anti-Zionists. They don’t deserve that legitimization. They offer no path forward, no vision for a future that reconciles the reality on the ground. Their efforts are focused solely on demonization and disruption, and we will not dignify their rejectionism.
Our series of events and programs began on Oct 15th and will extend into January. It has already included Israeli Arabs and Muslim students and clerics. Our program appreciates intellectual and cultural diversity, and dovetails with a photography-driven social media campaign, an intercultural Shabbat dinner at Hillel, Zionist art campaigns, and more than six campus-wide events from a wide-range of Israeli and pro-Israel figures.
This is not the first time we have seen their hate, and it will not be the last. But, we have a strong community which outnumbers, out-messages, and outlasts their small-but-loud attempt to garner attention.
Additional details and invites to community-wide programs will be shared as they come to light.
Darion Ouliguian '20
President, Bruins for Israel
Here are a few additional FAQs for those of you still reading!
When is the conference?
* Friday, November 16th through Sunday, November 18th. It is entirely over the weekend, when students do not actively frequent the conference areas of campus.
Is the conference public?
* No, it’s a private event, which mean that visitibility to the average UCLA students will be minimal to none. There will be no student-sponsored public demonstrations, which would only serve to draw attention to them and their messages.
Why would UCLA allow this event to happen on campus? Does it endorse their message or behavior?
* Due to First Amendment protections, UCLA’s legal advisors have determined that it must allow these students to assemble on campus. This is indeed in spite of the ongoing UCPD investigation regarding their behavior during SSI’s Indigenous Peoples Unite event this past May.
* UCLA Administration has made it clear that it unequivocally rejects their anti-Zionist message, and its behavior. For example, UCLA officially states: “UCLA and the University of California Regents continue to firmly oppose boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel…”
How can I help?
* As I mentioned, we will be carrying out much more programming this year which necessitates additional funding. You can support directly in doing so by clicking here.
* We have worked together with StandWithUs to create this petition, please sign it!
* If you would like to address your own letter to the administration, please feel free to do so.
* We invite you join us on Tuesday, October 23rd, 7-9 PM for an Artist Talk with renowned photographer and peace activist Saskia Keeley who will discuss her exhibit: Roots Non-Violence. This event is free and open to the public.To RSVP or for more information, click here.
* We have also been working closely with Alumni for Campus Fairness, click here to join.
* Share positive information with your friends and family about UCLA. We LOVE being at UCLA. It is an amazing campus with great Jewish life and a strong pro-Israel community!