UCLA students, faculty, and staff passing the Janss Steps or behind Powell Library Oct. 5 may have noticed the red, black and green posters portraying Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) as Hamas supporters and calling law professor Jerry Kang an “advocate of campus terrorist supporters.” UCLA staff took down the posters the same day.
The David Horowitz Freedom Center claimed responsibility for the unauthorized posters, which appear to be a resurgence of its campaign this past April and November. Like last April’s posters, these listed the names of students alleged by the organization to be pro-BDS, or boycott, divestment and sanctions (against Israel), activists.
Unauthorized postings by non-university affiliates is prohibited under the Regulations Governing Conduct of Non-Affiliates in the Buildings and on the Grounds of the University of California, which can be found on the UCLA Event Policies webpage. It is also possible the posters could be seen as libel. If the posters are considered defamatory and false, then there may be grounds for a libel suit.
Kang, who is the university’s Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, has been the subject of attacks from the David Horowitz Freedom Center in the past. In his April 19 blog post, responding to last spring’s incident, Kang wrote that the Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion considered the posters a serious escalation due to the potential psychological harm that can be caused by “blacklist campaigns.”
StoptheJewHatredonCampus.com, a website managed by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, posted an article Oct. 6, stating that the posters were placed on campus Tuesday night, Oct. 4, as part of a campaign “exposing the terrorist support groups currently thriving on American college campuses.”
Campus pro-Israel groups have taken a stance against these combative tactics.
Students Supporting Israel (SSI) at UCLA cofounder Liat Menna said that the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s actions do not represent the interests of the campus pro-Israel and Jewish community.
“When situations like this happen, and somebody feels that they want to combat this stuff on campus,” she said, “it is a community effort, and not going against the needs and concerns of the Jewish and pro-Israel community at UCLA.”
J Street U at UCLA co-chair Gil Bar-Or said students should send a message to those in the Jewish community outside the university that tactics like those used by the David Horowitz Freedom Center are not helpful.
“All this is happening because there’s a lot of people in the outside Jewish community who are supportive of these sorts of tactics and funding groups like the Horowitz Freedom Center,” Bar-Or, a fourth-year computer science major, said.
The David Horowitz Freedom Center notified SSI and some other Jewish student groups the day of the postings. Otherwise, students in these groups may not have been aware of the incident, Menna said.
“I didn’t have any students tell me that they saw the posters. Most of the students who found out about it found out through an email,” she said.