UCLA SHOCKER! SJP ENDORSED PRES. RESIGNS, PRO-ISRAEL VP TAKES PRESIDENCY
BDS VOTE SET FOR THIS TUESDAY
TMR readers will recall the contentious battle for leadership of the UCLA Undergraduate Student Association Council (USAC) at the end of the past Academic year. The elections held this past May served ostensibly as a proxy battle over a generations old conflict occurring thousands of miles away. While pro-Israel students gathered behind Avinoam Baral and his Bruins United Party, anti-Israel groups like Students for Justice in Palestine and other BDS supporting allies offered their endorsement to Devin Murphy and his LETS ACT! slate.
Tensions reached a fevered pitch on campus this past week, building up to a BDS divest from Israel resolution scheduled for a council vote this coming Tuesday. Campus watching pundits like those at Legal Insurrection predicted a BDS victory at UCLA this Tuesday.
“This summer and fall, a series of resignations, defections, and a special election cost the party allied with the Jewish community its student government plurality. Next Tuesday, in a meeting closed to the press and alumni, BDS is likely to pass in the face of muted opposition.“
But those above comments were posted before a remarkable turn of events shook the UCLA campus this weekend. In a surprise move that took both pro and anti-Israel groups by surprise, pro-BDS USAC President Devin Murphy tendered his resignation. In a letter posted on his Facebook account yesterday, Murphy explains his sudden decision (excerpts below):
“Unfortunately, it is with a heavy heart that I must resign as the Undergraduate Student Association President. – Firstly, this institution and all others like it around the country were not made for people like me. As an Afro-Cuban, Black Queer male, the toll that the stresses of this campus has had on my mental, physical, and emotional health is nothing any student should ever have to go through – but this is unfortunately something with which many students of color deal. My advocacy for the betterment of our policies and conversations dealing with mental health has been rooted in a deeply personal experience with my own inner-self.”
Adds Murphy, “Divestment is inevitable. Justice and freedom has never been granted by appeasing the oppressor. As students, we have a moral responsibility to ensure that our tuition is not funding the oppression of Palestinians.”
The UCLA Daily Bruin reported that upon Murphy’s resignation, internal Vice President Avinoam Baral would immediately assume the position of USAC President.
“The constitution says that if a councilmember leaves office after the midpoint of the one-year term, the next ranking officer would assume the vacant position. This is the first time in recent history that a USAC president has resigned from office.”
While supporters of Israel on campus were encouraged by the turn of events, Baral’s ability to advocate against this Tuesday’s BDS resolution is severely limited by the constraints of his new position. The President’s role on the council is primarily one of facilitation rather than advocacy for one position or another. The President may vote only in the event of a tie.
Baral has deep Seattle roots, he is a graduate of Northwest Yeshiva High School and his family are longtime members of Congregation Ezra Bessaroth. As Vice President, Baral worked ceaselessly this past year to refocus the USAC towards campus-based rather than international issues.
The past president of UCLA seems like one of those people who says “woe is me, I am a victim, feel sorry for me”.
I really cannot understand the depth of stupidity exhibited on US college campuses these days. As I sit in my apartment between the Temple Mount and Jordan, reading daily about how we Jews will not be allowed to pray on the Temple Mount, while thousands of Muslims have the freedom to pray anywhere, it really frosts me to read how US students think it’s the Jews who are oppressing the Muslims.Not only are the Muslims getting their way through violence, but their leaders continually incite their followers to do more violence. Our so-called friend in the US administration cannot do anything but tell Israel to use restraint. It’s the Muslims who are inciting and rioting, with innocent Jews being killed, but the US college student only hears one side. Their diplomas will be worthless if they cannot learn both sides of an issue before calling for boycotts against one side. They don’t even seem to be learning the responsibility that comes with their freedom to choose sides. Or maybe it all comes down to antisemitism among the student body. Whichever, it’s a fail. And here’s an irony for you: the resigning president is gay, yet he wants to boycott the only state in the Middle East that provides a haven for gays, while the Muslims threaten their lives. Just who’s oppressing who?
Well said Cathy, you nailed it
While I wish Mr. Murphy a speedy recovery, I have to say that he’s really hit the trifecta of identity politics. Hopefully he can sit back and reassess where his priorities are, and learn to look at the bigger picture.
Kol haKavod to Avinoam. He’s David up against Goliath, and I’ll be davening for him to have strength and patience!
So proud of NYHS and Seattle’s own Avinoam. What an interesting turn of events! I hope he is surrounded by support during this exciting time and that the opposition remains respectful. Avinoam is in a position where he can really make a difference. I am actually sorry to hear the President felt so much pressure that he couldn’t complete his term.