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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Why UCLA needs to be held accountable for anti-Israel hate

UCLA campus
UCLA has hosted groups that some Jewish students believe incite violence.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: It does no justice to whitewash the actions of those who conflate Jewish victims of white supremacy with their perpetrators -- as guest lecturer Rabab Abdulhadi did in a UCLA undergraduate anthropology course last May. (“In going after UCLA, the Trump administration is attempting to chill free speech about Israel,” Opinion, Jan. 23)

Furthermore, giving a free pass or a mere “slap on the wrist” to proponents of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, like the National Students for Justice in Palestine for promoting speakers like Abdulhadi and actual convicted terrorists like Rasmea Odeh, sets a dangerous precedent for universities in combating incitement to violence and hate.

Regardless of Trump’s partisan agenda, the message to anti-Semites of any race must be unequivocal condemnation. As the sole Jewish student on UCLA’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Student Advisory Board, and as a student signed onto these Title VI cases against my school, I find it extremely necessary to hold the university accountable when it becomes complacent on discrimination and student safety.

Justin Feldman, Westwood

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To the editor: Reading David N. Myers’ and Chaim Seidler-Feller’s article about free speech took me back to 1969, when I was an assistant professor of English at UCLA.

Another assistant professor scheduled to teach that year was Angela Davis. Because she was a member of the Communist Party, the university regents, at the urging of then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, attempted to fire Davis before she even gave her first lecture. But university administration, faculty and students rallied in support of Davis’ right to teach.

That didn’t stop Reagan, the regents and others who wanted Davis gone, so she was fired the next year.

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I remember being invited to speak to a group of people on the Palos Verdes Peninsula who were outraged that the university would hire a Communist. When challenged over my defense of Davis’ right to teach, I replied, “What better place for her than a university classroom where bright students can both learn from and challenge her?”

Ironically, 45 years later, Davis returned to UCLA, this time as a regents’ lecturer. Sometimes truth is the daughter of time.

Robert A. Rees, Novato, Calif.

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To the editor: The op-ed article by Myers and Seidler-Feller was very important to all lovers of Israel and freedom of speech. I congratulate the writers on having the courage and honesty to point out the difference between anti-Semitism and being against the actions of Israel.

I agree that the line can be crossed, but to criticize Israel does not make one anti-Semitic or even anti-Israel.

Many on the right focus on what they see as the “anti-Semitic” left on college campuses and elsewhere and ignore the real danger to lives that comes from the right. This suits their politics.

These days it takes courage to point out these truths.

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Steve Lampert, Woodland Hills


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