UC Irvine review clears pro-Israel student group of allegations it helped harass a Palestinian support 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 four-day on-campus event last year.

Students for Justice in Palestine alleged that at various times during an Anti-Zionism Week the Palestine group sponsored May 8-11, Students Supporting Israel aided and abetted Israeli veterans in verbally threatening, sexually harassing and following members of the Palestine group.

According to the university review dated Jan. 10, UCI’s student conduct officer, Christopher Coronel, interviewed Students Supporting Israel’s campus president, Kevin Brum, reviewed videos and documents and tried to interview 10 people who submitted written statements against the pro-Israel group.

“Although I made attempts to interview the witnesses who submitted written statements, none of them agreed to speak with me and I was unable to verify any of the allegations in their written complaints,” Coronel wrote in the review, which Students Supporting Israel posted on its website this week.

“Similarly, the videos and documents that I reviewed do not indicate in any way that SSI aided or abetted the reservists on duty in violating university policy,” Coronel added.

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

Representatives of Students for Justice in Palestine could not be reached for comment this week.

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 the Anti-Zionism Week, Students Supporting Israel sponsored a May 10 panel featuring former Israel Defense Force officers. During a question-and-answer period, about 40 members of Students for Justice in Palestine arrived at the Student Center 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 gave Students for Justice in Palestine two years’ probation, along with a requirement 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.

Twitter: @vegapriscella