UCLA school of public affairs criticized for inviting BLM co-founder as graduation keynote

Jewish groups outraged uni would invite activist who called for end to Israel and supports convicted terrorist Rasmea Odeh to give speech.

Tags: UCLA BLM
Dan Verbin ,

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Black Lives Matter (BLM) co-founder Patrisse Cullors will be giving the pre-recorded keynote speech at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs June 11 graduation ceremony, reported the Jewish Journal.

The school's choice of speaker has left Jewish groups, students and leaders worried. There is widespread concern that the speech Cullors will deliver has the potential to inflame an already tense situation on campus for UCLA's thousands of Jewish students, who have increasingly been the target of anti-Semitism.

According to the Journal, Cullors said during a 2015 panel discussion, “Palestine is our generation’s South Africa. If we don’t step up boldly and courageously to end the imperialist project that’s called Israel, we’re doomed.”

Cullors, who recently resigned from the Black Lives Matter Global Foundation, has also urged people to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and to support Rasmea Odeh. Odeh was convicted in 1970 for her involvement in two terrorist bombing in 1969 in Jerusalem, one of which killed two people. She was also deported from Chicago to Jordan in 2017 for filing to disclose her conviction on her American citizenship application.

“Patrisse Cullors is at the heart — and the foundation — of a movement for human rights, social change and genuine equality under the law,” UCLA Luskin Dean Gary Segura said in a statement. “Her work and the work of those who follow is way past due."

He added, “She is the ideal person to deliver a message of mission to our 2021 graduates.”

Segura was asked by Judea Pearl, Chancellor’s Professor of Computer Science at UCLA and president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, if he would ask Cullors if she still stood by her 2015 remarks or if she would retract them.

Segura in a statement to the Journal said, “We do not condone racism, sexism, anti-Semitism or any form of bias. The prerecorded commencement message from Patrisse Cullors is one of unity, tolerance and forgiveness. She suggests that a cooperative spirit can help heal old wounds and advance new solutions. I am confident that our graduating students will appreciate her perspective and find inspiration in her call to look forward without judgment in pursuit of a happier, more equitable society.”

Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Abraham Cooper described Segura’s statement as a nicely crafted and articulated deflection and dodge.”

Cooper told the Journal, “UCLA has the moral obligation to ask their speaker if she still seeks the destruction of the Jewish state but doesn’t have the courage to do so. UCLA graduates know what she has publicly stated in the past—supporting the destruction of Israel. So UCLA believes that this is the messenger to students ‘to find inspiration in her call to look forward without judgment in pursuit of a happier, more equitable society’? Has UCLA decided that promoting genocide now falls under the definition of legitimate ‘diversity of opinion?’”

Pearl echoed Cooper’s comment, stating, “For the thousands of Jewish students and faculty at UCLA, Cullors represents a bigoted sect of the BLM movement that criminalizes the core of our collective existence and calls for its destruction."



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