Palestine Legal wrote to University of California, Irvine (UCI) Tuesday on behalf of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) to appeal the university's decision to punish them for spontaneously clapping and chanting for a few minutes during a speaking event featuring Israeli combat soldiers.
Students chanted in unison after a member of the soldiers’ entourage physically assaulted a student during the event. The soldiers had been on campus harassing students for days during UCI’s annual Anti-Zionism Week.
Charging SJP with “disruption,” UCI imposed a punishment of two years of probation, plus 12 mandatory meetings to discuss free speech, and a requirement to meet with administrators two weeks before hosting any event.
Palestine Legal wrote to UCI on behalf of the students, explaining that the school’s arbitrary enforcement of its vague rule against disruption violates the students’ First Amendment rights. The school also has violated the students’ First Amendment rights because the two-week notice requirement prevents them from planning any kind of spontaneous event or action.
The decision to sanction SJP came after mounting political pressure from Israel lobby groups to censor students who advocate for Palestinian rights.
Just last week, students and professors at UCI were targeted with hate posters by David Horowitz. The posters listed names and pictured racist caricatures of their faces, and called them "terrorist supporters" because they advocate for Palestinian rights. Horowitz is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as the driver of the modern Islamophobia movement. UCI has made no condemnation.
Read our letter here.
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