LOS ANGELES (JTA) – The University of California Los Angeles’ ongoing student battles over issues related to Israel flared again Thursday as a judicial body of the student government held a hearing on conflict-of-interest accusations connected to a recent vote on a divestment resolution.
Students for Justice in Palestine brought a complaint charging two former members of of the university’s Undergraduate Students Association Council with violating the council’s conflict of interest for failing to disclose that they had taken sponsored trips to Israel before a council vote on a resolution urging divestment from some companies doing business in Israel.
The May 15 hearing before the USAC’s Judicial Board came shortly after SJP and four other pro-Palestinian campus groups urged candidates in student government elections to sign a pledge promising not to accept trips to Israel sponsored by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Anti-Defamation League or Hasbara Fellowships, a joint venture of Aish HaTorah and the Israeli government. The candidates on two of the three major slates signed the pledge, including the newly elected student body president.
The complaint before the Judicial Board dates back to a February vote in which the student council voted down a resolution urging UCLA and the University of California system to divest from several corporations accused of profiting from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The resolution was voted down, 7-5. Similar resolutions have come up for votes at several other schools in California’s state university system, meeting with mixed results.
Two former members of the student council, Sunny Singh and Lauren Rogers, defended themselves against charges that they should have abstained from voting on the resolution because each had taken a trip to Israel sponsored by a pro-Israel organizations – Singh’s by the ADL, and Rogers’ by the American Jewish Committee – thus creating existence or appearance of divided loyalties. Neither Singh nor Rogers is Jewish.
The Judicial Board has two weeks to decide the case.