Koretz Headlines Protests of National SJP Conference

November 19, 2018

Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz headlined the events protesting the Nov. 16-18 National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP) conference at UCLA on Nov. 18.

The first protest, organized by Yad Yamin, started at the UCLA store; people donned in Israeli flags and holding signs that read “#TogetherAgainstAntiSemitism” and “Stop the next Pittsburgh now!” marched from the store and Perloff Hall, where the NSJP conference members were at the time.

The protesters engaged in a series of chants across the street from the hall, which included, “Hey hey ho ho SJP has got to go!” and “No more hate!” as well as singing “Am Yisrael Chai.”

It was during this part of the protest when Koretz spoke out against SJP on a megaphone.

“This is a conference that shouldn’t have been allowed to take place at the UCLA campus,” Koretz said to cheers. “This is an organization that claims to be nonviolent. They claim that this is just a discussion of policy and criticism of the state of Israel.”

Koretz added, “If this was just a criticism of the state of Israel, I could have joined them. I don’t agree with every policy of the state of Israel. But that’s not what this is. This is a secret meeting. They’re not proudly discussing policy. They are hiding in the shadows, and we have no idea what they’re discussing,” which prompted chants of “What are you hiding?” from the crowd.

The city councilman said that SJP could be planning acts of terror or how to torment Jews on college campuses, highlighting the May disruption of a Students Supporting Israel event at UCLA as well as the NSJP conference logo showing the UCLA Bruin playing with a Palestinian kite.

“That is so symbolic of everything that they stand for, which is violence against Israel and violence against Jews and hate and anti-Semitism,” Koretz said. “This should never have been allowed, and we need to do whatever we can to say this is not acceptable in the city of Los Angeles, it’s not acceptable to the Los Angeles City Council, it’s not acceptable to our residents and we won’t stand for it.”

Koretz told the Journal afterward, “I’m glad my daughter isn’t going here right now, to be honest.”

“Especially since we’re trying to improve safety of our Jewish institutions after the Pittsburgh massacre, the last thing we want to do is bring people who support violence against Israel and anti-Semitism from all over the country to Los Angeles right now,” Koretz said.

When the SJP conference attendees moved from Perloff to Ackerman Union, the Yad Yamin protesters followed and chanted at them as they were being escorted by security and continued once the attendees were inside Ackerman; the chants included, “Say it loud say it clear SJP is not welcome here!” and “Free Gaza from Hamas!”

One of the Yad Yamin organizers, who identified himself as Guy, told the Journal that they hoped to send a message to SJP that they’re going to show up at their events and stand up for Jewish students on campus.

“We’re willing to go face-to-face with these guys,” Guy said. “We’re not scared of them.”

Additionally, Bruins for Israel and Students Supporting Israel hosted a celebration of Israel at UCLA’s Wilson Plaza on Nov. 18, where people could get free food, Israel paraphernalia and fact sheets as well as arts and crafts while Israeli music blared in the background.

“We wanted to have a space for pro-Israel students and our community members to come together and celebrate why we love Israel together,” Darion Ouliguian, president of Bruins for Israel, told the Journal.

Attendees at the celebration included Koretz, Rep. Brad Sherman’s (D-Calif.) team and members of the UCLA administration.

“It’s exactly what we wanted,” Jewish Agency Fellow Amit David told the Journal. “It’s peaceful, it’s fun, it feels safe.”

Ouliguian added, “Amidst everything else happening in the background, we are still here celebrating Israel.”

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