Summer break is nearing its end and the academic year is about to begin. The previous academic year has been a tough one for Zionists as well as conservatives at UC Irvine between being harassed, banned, and censured by administration and other students. Throughout the year, I’ve focused mainly on the negative aspects of our battle and how we must continue to fight the good fight for Israel.
I want to pivot my focus onto a more positive and uplifting note. The fight is still here, administration is still staunchly against us, SJP is still strong – but that is all beginning to change.
Last semester, UCI College Republicans invited Milo Yiannopoulos to speak on campus. Milo is a journalist for Breitbart who is characterized by his anti-social justice views. To make a long story short, the University – upon being informed that College Republicans planned to bring him back in the fall quarter of 2016 – drew upon some fine print regulations (regulations that they have never enforced on either College Republicans or the six times SJP has committed similar infractions) to justify banning UCI College Republicans for the next three academic quarters.
UCI claimed that College Republicans did not provide proof of insurance for the private security present at the event. College Republicans were not informed of the need for proof of insurance until the day of the event and the administration failed to release a list of pre-approved private security before the deadline despite promising to do so. UCI did not take action against College Republicans, until the administration had a meeting with College Republicans (in which admin did not bring up the lack of insurance as an issue) in which the President of College Republicans informed admin that they would be inviting Milo back this October. Several hours later, College Republicans received their suspension notice.
To put it into perspective, College Republicans would have been banned for the same amount of time as MSA was for criminally disrupting a speech by Ambassador Michael Oren in 2007. The only crime College Republicans allegedly committed was “thought crime,” the crime of daring to think different than the administration.
Students Supporting Israel at UC Irvine (SSI) came out publicly in support of College Republicans as did Berneaters, the group on campus supporting Bernie Sanders. Eventually, the administration decided to rescind the ban after a national outcry.
These punishing tactics used by the administration – have been conveniently applied to Zionist and conservative groups while simultaneously being forsaken and unapplied to Anti-Israel and liberal groups. This has succeeded, in the past, of creating de-facto censorship of our side, but no more! Today one major thing is changing at UCI – we’re winning.
It’s hard to see when looking from afar or even from on the ground, but as a student who has been at UCI for three years now and who has seen anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism grow like a blight on our campus, I also see that we are winning over the wider, formerly apathetic, majority. Regular students now look at the actions of these awful student organizations and see what they really are. They feel the hatred burning in their eyes. They look at our side, at the way we simply present facts and genuinely yearn for a lasting peace to this conflict, and between choosing hate or peace, opt for peace.
We have come to a point wherein all one must do to make the case for Israel is recite facts because the other side can only resort to increasingly astounding mental gymnastics to attempt to reconcile their ideals with irreconcilable facts.
While the administration and these anti-Zionist groups have gotten away with it in the past, the national attention is drawn to UCI. UCI will – in the next couple of years – become a hot bed of political activity. We are the process of making UCI into a promised land of free speech, expression, and intelligent discourse. Wherever the light of fact and freedom shines, the forces of anti-Zionism will shrink into the shadow of ignorance and propaganda.
As the national and international spotlight shines on UC Irvine, the more these groups will attempt to shut us down – the larger the Zionist community here, in turn, will grow. They have not only self-engineered their own destruction, but also have reignited the rise of Zionism on campus.
Going into this new year as the President of Students Supporting Israel (SSI), I plan to take UC Irvine by storm. I’m not promising the road ahead will be easy or that it will be risk-free or devoid of setbacks. What I am saying is this: though the road may be bumpy, may curve and weave; victory is just over the horizon and I’m overjoyed to have the privilege of being able to witness the upswing of Zionism on campus and to share that with you all, step by step.