Howard Gillman, Chancellor of the University of California-Irvine
Howard Gillman was appointed as chancellor of the University of California-Irvine on September 18, 2014. He inherited a campus already notorious for allowing anti-Israel extremists and Hamas supporters to trample the rights of Jews and other students on campus. In the years preceding Gillman’s appointment, UC Irvine’s Muslim Student Union disrupted a speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren on campus, which resulted in the arrest of nine of its members. The MSU members refused to cease their disruption, even after an administrator repeatedly begged for civility. For this heinous attack on free speech, Irvine MSU received only a one-year suspension, which was ultimately shortened to one semester after the organization and its lawyer appealed.
During his years in office, Gillman has done little to change Irvine’s reputation as a haven for anti-Semites and supporters of anti-Israel terrorism. UC-Irvine’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine has twice been sanctioned and put on probation for disrupting pro-Israel events—a small step in the right direction—but it has yet to face more serious consequences. In spite of the sanctions on SJP, anti-Israel activists—claiming to be outsiders but likely in coordination with Irvine SJP—continue to disrupt events supporting Israel, and the university has yet to investigate this possible coordination or even to take down the names of disruptors.
For three years in a row, anti-Israel protestors have significantly disrupted pro-Israel events in violation of campus regulations, chanting slogans promoting terrorism such as “Intifada, Intifada/long live the Intifada” and “when people are occupied/resistance is justified.” Irvine hosts an annual Israeli Apartheid Week which includes the display of a mock “apartheid wall” papered with pro-terrorist propaganda. One section of a recent apartheid wall glorified convicted hijacker Leila Khaled a member of the murderous terrorist organization Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and also depicted a map of Israel with the entire nation labeled as “occupied territory.” Another section contained incitements to terrorism such as the statement “When people are occupied, resistance is justified.”
A May 2018 event hosted by the UCI College Republicans with Reservists on Duty (a pro-Israel group of IDF reservists) was disrupted by an organized group of anti-Israel protestors who brought a bullhorn (a violation of campus rules without a permit) and screamed genocidal and pro-terrorist chants such as “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free” and leveled blood libel accusations at the ADF by chanting “IDF, What do you say? How many kids have you killed today?” Despite the presence of UCI’s Dean of Students and at least three police officers at the event, the chanting continued for at least three minutes, temporarily shutting down the event, until at last the protestors were removed. After their removal, the protestors continued chanting pro-terrorist slogans from outside the room including “Long live the intifada,” a reference the Hamas campaign of terrorist violence against Israel. After the event, the speakers and organizers left under a police escort.
UC Irvine declined to conduct a student disciplinary hearing, stating, “to our knowledge, the protestors were not UCI students, so there will not be a student conduct review.” The campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine was still on probation at this time for their disruption of a similar pro-Israel event the previous year, and so it is thought that outside protestors were brought to the campus in their place so as not to further risk the organization’s status on campus. So far, the University has not investigated whether the campus chapter of SJP coordinated with the outside protestors to disrupt the event, although pro-Israel students on the campus consider this coordination likely. And it appears that the protestors, after being escorted out of the event, were not even asked for their names, and did not face arrest or any other negative consequences, facts that seem like gross oversights given the likelihood that the protestors were openly cooperating with UCI’s SJP chapter.
In May 2018, UCI SJP posted a link to a Lebanese singer’s hymn “honouring victims of Israeli massacres in Gaza” in response to deaths resulting from the Hamas led attack on the Gaza border known as the “Great Return March.” In doing so, UCI SJP was taking the Hamas propaganda position that Israel is at fault for deaths resulting from this Hamas attack on its borders.
In early May 2018, UCI SJP once again held “Anti-Zionism Week” on campus. The poster for the week depicted Israel with the words “We Will Return” in large letters over the whole of the nation, an image meant as a genocidal statement toward Israel’s Jews. The featured speaker for the week, Anis Zubi, was described as a “Nakba survivor.” “Nakba” is an Arabic word meaning “catastrophe” that is used by Israel’s enemies and terrorist adversaries to describe Israel’s creation in 1948.
An event hosted by UCI’s chapter of Students Supporting Israel (SSI) featuring a panel of Israeli Defense Reservists in May 2017 was disrupted by a contingent of approximately 40 protestors from UCI SJP—some clothed in t-shirts stating “UC Intifada,” a call to terrorist violence—who shouted slogans urging violence and the destruction of the Jewish state. SJP’s chants included: “Israel, Israel what do you say, how many kids have you killed today?” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” A woman identified as a former president of SJP yelled, “These people are occupiers, they’re colonizers; you should not be allowed on our f–ing campus!” The head of SSI also reported that assistance from campus police was inadequate. Despite every expectation that SJP would attempt to disrupt the event, campus police showed up late and then proceeded to lead the Israel supporters out through a crowd of protestors, increasing the risk of attack against them. The next day, one of SJP’s student leaders bragged that the organization had gone “to disrupt the event” in order “to let them (the panelists) know that we refuse to allow the normalization of their presence here.”
In September 2017, UC Irvine’s Office of Academic Integrity and Student Conduct released a statement explaining that SJP would be sanctioned “with disciplinary probation for two academic years, ending June 16, 2019” for disrupting the SSI event. Although this decision did result in some limited consequences to SJP, it did not prevent the disruption of pro-Israel events over the following year. And SJP successfully appealed some terms of the sanctions.
In May 2017, UCI SJP held “Anti-Zionism Week 2017: On This Land.” The week included the erection of a mock “apartheid wall” threatening terrorist violence against Israel. Panels included in the wall declared “When people are occupied, resistance is justified” and the quote “The colonizer brings pure violence in the homes and minds of the colonized.” Other panels advocated for the Hamas-backed BDS movement against Israel and accused Israel of genocide.
An anti-Trump rally held on campus in January 2017 morphed into a denial of Jewish self-determination when a student speaker declared to the crowd, “I want you guys to be about anti-Islamophobia; I want you guys to be anti-Zionism; and I want you guys to be anti-Israel because Trump didn’t come up with these things on his own, he got the idea of the wall from Israel.” The student then led the crowd in a chant of, “from Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go.”
On May 18, 2016, Irvine SJP succeeded in disrupting a pro-Israel film screening that was co-sponsored by the campus chapters of Students Supporting Israel (SSI) and Hillel. SSI reported on its Facebook page that, “Tonight one of our events was disrupted by certain student organizations. They were in violation of UC Regents Hate Speech policy and were shouting various anti-Semitic statements. The police had to escort attendees out of the event for their own safety.” Video of the event reveals students shouting their support for anti-Israel terrorism, screaming “Intifada, Intifada/long live the Intifada,” “displacing people since ‘48/there’s nothing here to celebrate!” and “when people are occupied/resistance is justified.” Following this event, UCI SJP was put on probation until March 2017.
During May 2-5, 2016, Irvine’s chapters of SJP and the Muslim Students Association (MSA) collaborated with other student groups to hold an “Anti-Zionist Week” on campus. The week featured a huge mock “apartheid wall” which celebrated anti-Israel terrorism in multiple panels. One panel depicted an image of convicted hijacker Leila Khaled holding a gun with the slogan “Women Leading Resistance” below it. “Resistance” is a euphemism for anti-Israel terrorism. Another segment of the wall repeats the slogan, “Resistance is justified when people are occupied.” Another segment depicted a map of Israel with the entire nation labeled as “occupied territory,” an allusion to Hamas’s genocidal goal to rid Israel of its Jews. The wall also endorsed the Hamas-inspired Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel.
In addition to the apartheid wall, Irvine’s anti-Zionist week featured a mock funeral procession for a Palestinian “martyr.” One of the students participating in the funeral procession held a sign proclaiming “Long Live the Intifada.” Another event featured a speech by anti-Israel Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss who comes from a fringe Jewish sect. During his address, Weiss resorted to anti-Semitic caricatures, claiming that Zionism is “a Madoff scheme” and Zionists use their “billions and billions of dollars” to intimidate “the media” and “any politician who dares …to show too much sympathy for the Palestinian cause.” He also claimed that “newspapers are conglomerates that are owned or controlled by Zionist organizations.”
On February 19, 2016, SJP held an event titled “Unlearning Zionism: A Workshop and Discussion” with the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network. The Facebook page for the event featured side-by-side photos labeled “Warsaw 1944” (an image of the Warsaw ghetto) with “Gaza 2009,” implying an equivalence between the Holocaust and the treatment of Palestinians.
On October 12, 2015, an event featuring former Israeli Chief Justice Aharon Barak at Irvine was interrupted by 20-30 anti-Israel protestors, forcing police to interrupt the event and escort Barak and the other attendees out of the event.
During May 4-7, 2015, UC Irvine’s Muslim Student Union staged an “Anti-Zionism Week” on campus. As part of the week’s activities, SJP and MSU sold T-shirts emblazoned with “UC Intifada,” openly stating their allegiance to Jew-killing terrorists. The back of the T-shirt read “End Settler Colonialism” (a core Hamas fiction) and depicted a genocidal Hamas map which falsely alleged that an Arab nation called “Palestine” existed in 1947 and was over-run by Jews.
On April 23, 2015, a pro-Israel festival held by Anteaters for Israel (“Anteaters” is the school team name) was disrupted by anti-Israel protestors, who used their bodies and large signs to block a walkway and loudly chanted pro-terrorist slogans such as “Resistance is justified when people are occupied,” an attempt to whitewash terrorism.
In March 2015, UC-Irvine professor Rei Terada was among the signatories of an op-ed appearing in the Daily Californian urging the administrators of the UC system to support the Hamas-sponsored BDS Movement boycott of Israel.
In December 2014, UC Irvine SJP held an event in defense of terrorist Rasmeah Odeh, with law professor Marjorie Cohn, calling Odeh “our comrade and sister.” Odeh was convicted by an Israeli military court in 1970 for her involvement in a supermarket bombing which killed two Jewish students: “Join us as we host Marjorie Cohn, Professor of Law at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former President of the National Lawyer’s [sic] Guild and current Deputy Secretary of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers as she discusses the implications of the U.S.’s targeting of our comrade and sister, Rasmea Odeh. Ms. Cohn recently authored an article titled, “US Leaders Aid and Abet Israeli War Crimes, Genocide & Crimes Against Humanity.”