UCLA faculty call on school to condemn protests, speech 'crossing the line'

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A group of over 300 faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) signed a letter calling on the school to condemn protests “crossing the line from protected speech to unlawful incitement” amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

“We were horrified to see Pro-Palestinian rallies on campus in which the massacres by Hamas were celebrated, including explicit calls for violence (including chanting ‘Intifada’ or event advertisements featuring images of weapons/violence),” the letter reads. 

“Such celebrations create an atmosphere of fear; one cannot imagine that UCLA will allow for celebrations of the killing of George Floyd, or for celebrations of the Armenian genocide, or the celebrations of the 9/11 attacks,” the letter continues. “It is inconceivable why such celebrations are not denounced by the UCLA leadership, regardless of political views.”

The letter comes amid turmoil on college campuses across the nation over the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas. Colleges are trying to navigate balancing campus safety and free speech as rhetoric around the conflict heats up.

A few weeks ago, pro-Palestinian students at George Washington (GW) University garnered national attention and backlash for anti-Israel messages they projected on one of the school’s libraries. The messages, projected by the student group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), included “Divestment from Zionist genocide now” and “Free Palestine From the River to the Sea.”

“These are genocidal messages displayed on a building at George Washington University. If the students responsible for these messages aren’t severely punished by GWU, something is terribly wrong,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “Genocide isn’t hip, cute, or in any way acceptable. GWU—do the right thing NOW!”

Columbia University suspended two student organizations that have been leaders in protests advocating for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas conflict Friday. A university official cited campus safety as the reasoning behind the school’s suspension of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) through the end of the fall semester. 

“This decision was made after the two groups repeatedly violated University policies related to holding campus events, culminating in an unauthorized event Thursday afternoon that proceeded despite warnings and included threatening rhetoric and intimidation,” University Vice President Gerald Rosberg said.

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