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We are relieved that the illegal encampments at UCLA’s campus have been removed. Our goal is to ensure the safety and protection of every Jewish student at UCLA. As such, we are grateful to Chancellor Gene Block, his team, and to law enforcement for securing order. We hope the University will once again be a thriving and productive place for higher learning, where Jewish students feel safe and can fully participate in campus life.

The events of the last few weeks reflect poorly on our city. All of us want to live peacefully in a place that we are proud of, one that showcases the true diversity of our home and our respectful civil discourse. The violence that occurred on Tuesday night at UCLA was shameful. We condemn it and believe all others must condemn it as well.

We believe in free speech protected by the First Amendment; at the same time, there must be zero tolerance for speech that threatens people or incites violence. We also believe in respectful and peaceful protests within the bounds of the law, while maintaining zero tolerance for protests that use hateful, threatening rhetoric to violate the freedoms of others.

Here are the steps the Federation implemented during this precarious moment:

• Partnering with Hillel at UCLA
Our approach has always been student-centered. As such, we have been in daily contact with our partner, Hillel at UCLA, to support their efforts, ensure the safety of the students, and mobilize our political power. We have supported Hillel at UCLA by funding increased security and sponsoring Shabbat dinner programs to give joy and resilience to Jewish students.

• Showing Solidarity
We partnered with the Israeli-American Council and several other Jewish and pro-Israel organizations to convene approximately 2,000 Jewish community members and allies for a solidarity rally at UCLA on Sunday, April 28th to peacefully support Israel and Judaism.

Showing solidarity at a rally to support Israel and Jews at UCLA | JFEDLA

Showing solidarity at a rally to support Israel and Jews at UCLA

• Outreach to the UCLA Administration
We began outreach to UCLA earlier in the academic year as the campus climate deteriorated. On Tuesday, April 30th, JFEDLA and the Board of Rabbis of Southern California sent a letter to Chancellor Block and the Vice Chancellors demanding they restore order to campus and requesting a meeting to directly voice our concerns to the administration. We are pleased to report that Federation leadership and representatives of the Board of Rabbis will be meeting with Chancellor Block and his team to develop a productive path forward to ensure the safety of Jewish students and the entire campus community.

• Engaging Elected Leaders to Protect Jews
We leveraged the strength of JFEDLA’s relationships with federal, state, and local elected leaders to ensure that the LAPD arrived immediately to the solidarity rally when the security in place was compromised. We also requested that our elected leaders apply pressure to the administration to take more immediate action to keep Jewish students and faculty safe.

Moving forward, we hope UCLA can foster a culture of understanding, tolerance, and respect among students, faculty, and staff. We are committed to playing a key role — in partnership with Hillel at UCLA and the administration — in developing a long-term strategic plan that ensures the safety of all students, encourages the respectful exchange of ideas, and fosters a peaceful and thriving campus life for all. We look forward to our meeting with the Chancellor and his team to begin that process.

Take action with a hands-on opportunity this Sunday, May 5th, during Advocacy Day. Join us for a letter-writing campaign to make your voice heard on issues impacting the Jewish community, including on-campus antisemitism and our support for Israel. We urgently need your advocacy to meet this moment. Spread the word and bring a friend as we strengthen our Jewish community’s civic voice.

Am Yisrael Chai.

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