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UC Irvine review clears pro-Israel student group accused of harassing pro-Palestinian group

A UC Irvine review has cleared an Israeli student support group of allegations of aiding Israeli military veterans in harassing a Palestinian support group during a campus event last year.

Students for Justice in Palestine alleged that members of Students Supporting Israel aided and abetted the military veterans in verbally threatening and sexually harassing its members during an Anti-Zionism Week event the pro-Israel group sponsored on campus May 8-11.

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According to the university review, dated Jan. 10, witnesses who had submitted written statements accusing the pro-Israel group of misconduct refused to be interviewed by UCI's student conduct officer, Christopher Coronel, and he was unable to verify any of the allegations.

Coronel wrote in the review, dated Jan. 10, that none of the videos or documents he reviewed showed that the pro-Israel group violated university policy.

If new information is presented, Coronel wrote, the case may be reopened.

Representatives of the pro-Palestinian group could not be reached for comment.

Students Supporting Israel founder and president Ilan Sinelnikov said in a statement that his group is pleased with the report.

"It's important other universities do the same when these groups attempt to use these tactics to discredit our organization, and expose these groups' fraught relationship with truth and facts," Sinelnikov said.

University spokesman Tom Vasich said the school had no official statement on the matter.

During Anti-Zionism Week, Students Supporting Israel sponsored a May 10 panel featuring former Israel Defense Force officers. During a Q&A period, about 40 members of Students for Justice in Palestine arrived and began asking questions. The discussion became heated, with shouting and chanting for several minutes, the university said.

Students for Justice in Palestine issued a statement at the time saying it protested the event to show that the Israeli veterans were unwelcome on campus because they "enforce Zionist settler colonialism and military occupation of Palestinian land by the Israeli nation-state."

After the incident, university administrators placed the pro-Palestinian group on two years' probation and directed members to attend free-speech meetings.

It was the second time in a year that members of Students for Justice in Palestine interrupted an event presented by Students Supporting Israel amid ongoing tensions between the groups.

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