More than 300 faculty members at the University of California, Los Angeles, signed a letter demanding the institution denounce campus protests endorsing Hamas terrorists’ attack against Israel if speakers at the demonstrations incite violence.
The faculty explained that people may take different sides on the complex situation between Israel and the Palestinians, but that Hamas’ massacre “should be condemned irrespective of political views.” The letter said UCLA leadership must “make the strongest possible statements” condemning the attacks and that there is no room for moral equivalence, “both-sideism” or ambiguity.
“[W]hile we all cherish the First Amendment and its guarantees of freedom of speech and assembly, UCLA must ensure that any hate speeches and celebrations of the Hamas massacre by students and faculty on our campus are prevented from crossing the line from protected speech to unlawful incitement,” the letter reads. “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).”
More than 11,000 people have been killed in Gaza and Israel since Hamas launched its largest attack against Israel in decades on Oct. 7, prompting a military response from Israeli forces. Thousands more have been wounded, and many others have been taken hostage by Hamas and raped, tortured and murdered.
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“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 reads. “It is inconceivable why such celebrations are not denounced by the UCLA leadership, regardless of political views. The atmosphere on campus results in Jewish students, staff, and faculty who are afraid to be on campus, show solidarity with Israel, or practice their freedom of religion in public.”
The UCLA faculty called on the university to denounce any celebrations of Hamas terror attacks and killings and said it must take action, including releasing a public statement, to condemn any campus rallies “crossing the line from speech to incitement, such as those rallies where speakers call for violence and spilling blood.”
The letter also urges the university to label Hamas as a terrorist organization and to hold student groups and UCLA community members accountable if they directly participate in incitement by enforcing existing UCLA policies prohibiting this conduct. The faculty said distributing event invitations that encourage incitement would be an example of direct participation.
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The faculty members’ letter comes as pro-Palestinian student groups at various colleges and universities across the country have released statements and organized demonstrations supporting Hamas’ attack against Israel, even as many of the universities themselves condemned the acts of terrorism.
Jewish people on campuses have faced threats and harassment since the Oct. 7 attacks.
Columbia University on Friday suspended two student organizations — Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace — that have led protests advocating for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.
“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 in a statement.