We have covered extensively the attempt by the UCLA branch of Students for Justice in Palestine to keep pro-Israel students off the student council by claiming that taking sponsored trips to Israel (and only Israel) creates a conflict of interest, UCLA testing ground for next generation of anti-Israel campus tactics.

The hypocrisy was dripping, as theSJP-backed UCLA Student President-elect took sponsored trip to Israel, yet won by 31 votes slamming such trips.

After a trial conducted by students, the Judicial Board of UCLA’s student government found  by a 4-0-2 vote that former council members Sunny Singh and Lauren Rogers did not violate conflict of interest bylaws by accepting subsidized trips to Israel from the Anti-Defamation League and Project Interchange, and that their votes against BDS were “valid and legitimate.”

The decision is at the bottom of this post.

While this is was a show trial in which no remedy was available, this sets an important precedent:  pro-Israel students at UCLA who associate with pro-Israel organizations need not fear being legally barred from holding office or voting on Israel-related issues.

Additionally, the fact that not even one member of the Judicial Board bought Students for Justice in Palestine’s argument, despite the fact that the conflict of interest bylaws at UCLA are very broadly written, will help discourage anti-Israel lawfare of this type nationwide.

However, it is important to remember that the pseudo-legal battle are only half the story:  politically, SJP achieved one of their objectivea: narrowly costing Singh the election in favor of their own candidate (with the same alleged conflict).  The status of BDS resolutions at UCLA now likely hinge on a special election in the fall.

Now, the pro-Israel community has begun to work to ensure that BDS, not just opposition to it, can be politically costly as well.  The pro-Israel community at UCLA, emboldened by assistance from a constellation of advocacy organizations and media, is taking the offensive.

They have compiled a petition with a list of grievances and demands that pulls no punches and that every UCLA alumnus reading this should sign. In service of these goals, they have secured condemnations of the “ethics pledge” to disassociate from pro-Israel groups from UCLA Chancellor Block, UC President Janet Napolitano, and pro-Israel groups from the AMCHA to ZOA.  Even J-street , in their own unique way, managed a condemnation.  UCLA’s Jewish community has become more aggressive about fighting anti-semitism on campus, and are now demanding an apology from the Empowered Arab Sisterhood for wiping Israel off the map last week in one of their displays.

This fight is far from over.  However, at UCLA and on campuses across the country, this is not the turning point SJP had hoped for, but it may be a turning point just the same.

UCLA Judicial Board Decision re Israel Trips 5-21-2014