Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrice Kulers was set to deliver a virtual commencement address for UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs, as scheduled on Friday, with the school’s dean confirming that her previous thoughts on Israel Despite scrutiny of critical comments.
While attending a 2015 panel at Harvard Law School, Coolers called for an end to the Israeli state. His remarks resurfaced in recent days after intense clashes between Israeli forces and Hamas militants in Gaza.
“Palestine is the South Africa of our generation,” Colors said at the event. “If we do not act boldly and boldly to end the imperialist project called Israel, we are doomed.”
Several prominent Jewish groups questioned UCLA’s decision to host Cullors as a commencement speaker amid a recent wave of anti-Semitic attacks. Gary Segura, dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, defended the decision in a statement to the Jewish Journal.
BLM co-founder called for the end of Israel in 2015
“Respect for diversity of opinion on matters of public concern is a core tenet of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs’ educational philosophy, and it is important to remember that an invitation to speak does not represent an endorsement of all past or future statements. A given speaker,” Segura said in a statement. “We do not condone racism, sexism, anti-Semitism or prejudice of any kind.”
“Patrice Colors’ pre-recorded commencement message is one of unity, tolerance and forgiveness,” Segura said. “She suggests that a cooperative spirit can help heal old wounds and pursue new solutions. I am confident that our graduate students will appreciate her approach and without judgment in the pursuit of a happier, more equitable society.” You will find inspiration in his call to move forward.”
Prominent critics of UCLA’s decision included Judea Perl, professor of computer science at UCLA and founder of the Daniel Pearl Foundation. Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and murdered in 2002 during an investigation into terrorist groups in Pakistan.
Judea Pearl calls on UCLA to seek her withdrawal before allowing the Colors to give her the starting address.
“To the thousands of Jewish students and faculty at UCLA, Coolers represents a large sect of the BLM movement that criminalizes the core of our collective existence and calls for its destruction,” Pearl said in a statement. “Inviting him as a keynote speaker without explicitly withdrawing or addressing that large part of his ideology would mainstream that bigotry and, by implication, give Jewish students and faculty ‘equity, diversity and inclusion’ to expel from equal membership in the Bruins tent.”
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean at the Simon Wiesenthal Center and director of the Global Social Action Agenda, also criticized the decision.
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“UCLA has a moral obligation to ask its speaker if it still demands the destruction of the Jewish state, but does not have the courage to do so. UCLA graduates know what it has said publicly in the past – supporting the destruction of Israel,” Cooper said.
Coolers recently stepped down as executive director of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation. After the New York Post reported that he had bought four homes for $3.2 million, he announced his exit amid an investigation into his finances.
Coolers has referred to the allegations that he enriched himself through donations to Black Lives Matter as “blatantly untrue”.