Legal Insurrection has learned that Students for Justice in Palestine-backed UCLA student president-elect Devin Murphy, whose supporters accused his anti-divestment opponent of corruption and conflict of interest for taking a sponsored trip to Israel from a pro-Israel organization, took a sponsored trip to Israel from a pro-Israel group in January 2013.

Murphy, who defeated anti-BDS candidate Sunny Singh by a mere 31 votes in an election with 8,200 cast, went to Israel on a California Student Leaders  trip sponsored by the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange.

That Murphy went on such a sponsored trip but is pro-divestment, shows that such trips are merely educational, and do not dictate a particular pro- or anti-divestment result.

SJP filed a judicial board conflict of interest complaint not only against Singh for going on a trip sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League, but also against Lauren Rogers, another anti-BDS council member who also went on a Project Interchange Trip.

Murphy also signed a letter pledging not to take sponsored trips to Israel from various groups, which accused numerous pro-Israel organizations of promoting bigotry against Muslims, Blacks, and Armenians.

Questioned about his trip (video clip here, and embedded below), Murphy claimed that he had no conflict of interest because he was not a member of the council at the time.  He also did not indicate that he would recuse himself from related matters while on council.

Top - Devin Murphy, Jerusalem, 2013 - Trip Paid For By The American Jewish Committee Bottom - Devin Murphy, Los Angeles, 2014 - Campaign Materials Produced By Students For Justice In Palestine

(Top – Devin Murphy, Jerusalem, 2013 – Paid For By The American Jewish Committee
Bottom – Devin Murphy, Los Angeles, 2014 – Campaign Materials Produced By SJP)

However, when Murphy took the California Student Leaders trip, he already had worked in the UCLA student government’s (USAC) External Vice President’s office, was on the board of the Afrikan Student Union, External Vice President of the UCLA College Democrats chapter, and on October 16, 2012, was appointed by the USAC president, with a council confirmation vote, to an influential board.  Within a few months, he had ran (unsuccessfully) for office, become a Policy Director in the Student Regent Designate’s office, and became the Chief of Staff for the new USAC president.

Whether he was a member of council at the time or merely in the run-up to an election, the idea that Murphy was anything but a student politician receiving a free trip designed for student politicians from what he and SJP considers to be a lobby group is utterly absurd.

Murphy and SJP eked out a victory by the slimmest of margins, slamming Singh and others for taking these trips.  The Daily Bruin even cited the conflict as one of the reasons they did not endorse Singh, saying that his election would “create a real possibility of many students feeling alienated.”

However, SJP was apparently undisturbed by Murphy’s free trip, and the trip was not an issue in the campaign (Incidentally, this is proof that taking such trips does not necessarily result in a pro-Israel outlook).  Furthermore, their “ethics” statement specifically excluded two non-Israel-related left-wing student groups as acceptable  sponsors of travel because they “do not marginalize any community.” This clearly shows that Students for Justice in Palestine and their allies are not interested in fighting corruption, or inappropriate lobbying, or money in politics.

Instead, their interest, as Professor Jacobson wrote last week, is to silence a generation of Jewish leaders and allies by any means necessary.

(An in-depth report on the campaign at UCLA and its implications can be found here.)