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UCSB Student Senate Condemns Hamas, While Pro-Palestinian Protesters Walkout

According to Students Supporting Israel (SSI), the resolution condemning Hamas passed with 76% support in the student senate on November 15.
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November 28, 2023
UC Santa Barbara Library (Photo by UCSB Library/Wikimedia Commons under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.)

The UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) student senate passed a resolution on November 15 condemning Hamas, prompting various pro-Palestinian protesters to disrupt the meeting and conduct a walkout; a student was assaulted during the protest.

According to Students Supporting Israel (SSI), the resolution condemning Hamas passed with 76% support in the student senate on November 15. The resolution states that the student senate “unequivocally condemn[s] Hamas for the undeniably barbaric atrocities and war crimes they perpetrated on October 7, 2023” and also condemns “any celebration of the October 7 pogrom as vehemently antisemitic, anti-humanist, and morally despicable.”

However, a resolution condemning both antisemitism and Islamophobia failed during the same meeting.

“I sat there, with my fellow senators, baffled,” UCSB Student Senator Michelle Lebowski said at a November 16 press conference at UCLA regarding the resolution denouncing antisemitism and Islamophobia failing. “I have no words for that.”

Santa Barbara Hillel issued a statement calling the passage of the resolution condemning Hamas an “extraordinary accomplishment,” noting that it made “UCSB the first student government of a public university in the United States to condemn Hamas.”

This triumph occurred despite a coordinated effort to disrupt senate proceedings, create a hostile environment, and interfere with students’ free-speech rights,” the Hillel chapter added. “Student protestors took over the public forum, blocked the doors, pointed their megaphones into the meeting room, and chanted the genocidal slogan ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ at Jewish students gathered inside. Chanting ‘we are bigger than the senate,’ demonstrators taunted elected representatives and prevented them from conducting senate business. One student was physically assaulted. Campus safety officers and on-site administrators allowed the disruption to escalate.”

StandWithUs shared video footage of the purported disruption and assault on social media. “These protesters did everything they could to disrupt the meeting and intimidate students, the pro-Israel education group wrote. “But the Jewish and pro-Israel students stood strong and gathered together to sing Hatikvah, singing louder than the chants for their destruction being shouted outside. The meeting ended with UCSB becoming the first public university student government to officially condemn Hamas. We commend [the] UCSB Student Government on their decision to #StandAgainstTerror and anyone who supports it.”

Lebowski told the Journal following the UCLA Hillel press conference on November 16 that a female student “started to speak out, and she aligned herself with SJP… she basically started a rally of tons of students.” Lebowksi claimed that they kept asking their director to remove the student, but the director refused. “Basically, it escalated to a huge rally outside with all of SJP and was supported by numerous clubs that called for this rally, and it became incredibly scary,” Lebowski said.  She also claimed that the victim of the alleged assault that took place was hit in the hand by a pro-Palestinian protester because the protester didn’t want to be filmed.

Santa Barbara Hillel called on the university “to take swift action to hold student perpetrators accountable,” including investigating SJP over what occurred during the November 15 meeting as well as taking disciplinary action against the individual who assaulted the student.

“Jewish students have felt unsafe for weeks after experiencing anti-Israel bias in classrooms and hearing an antisemitic campus mob chanting, ‘We don’t want Zionists here,’” the Hillel affiliated stated. “No student at UCSB should fear for their safety, and university leadership has a moral and legal responsibility to protect Jewish students and all students. Santa Barbara Hillel stands with our students, and we will continue helping them amplify their voices with university leadership.”

The university said in a statement to the Journal, “Our campus has been working to offer support to our students during these challenging times, including a host of services that provide them with academic and personal advising, support for their well-being, and more. We also provide students with tools, including how to report bias incidents and information about campus policy. The University reviews and responds to these incidents as they are reported. Our campus administrators and student affairs professionals care very deeply about our students, have been meeting with individuals and campus organizations, and have shared information about available resources in meetings and several campus-wide messages. The campus demonstration response team is present at every event to monitor and help address student concerns in real-time and coordinate with our campus safety partners.”

The UCSB SJP chapter did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment.

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