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Israel-Palestine Conflict Spills Into Westwood Streets

Westwood traffic slowed to a crawl Sunday afternoon as more than a thousand pro-Palestine demonstrators crowded the four corners of the Wilshire/Veteran intersection. The demonstrators rallied against U.S.’s foreign aid to Israel as they continue to illegally occupy Palestinian land.

The demonstrators initially chanted and cheered on the sidewalk as traffic-jammed drivers honked in support, waved Israel or Palestine flags, booed, and even flipped off protesters. Then they marched for about a mile to the Consulate General of Israel on the intersections of Wilshire and Granville.

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This demonstration follows one held last Saturday which occurred in the same place. That rally reinforced Israel’s actions as a mean of self-defense. It followed another protest two weeks prior in front of the Federal Building, denouncing the U.S. foreign aid and a July 8th Israeli operation that has caused more than 445 Palestinian casualties and about 15 Israeli soldiers and citizens.

Sunday’s demonstration included various Palestinian-support and Palestinian-American organizations and groups, as well as UCLA professors and students.

The demonstrators gathered at the Wilshire Federal Building at 3 p.m. and began to march down Wilshire Blvd at 5 p.m., temporarily shutting down the busy street with Palestinian flags and calls for peace. Their destination was the Consulate General of Israel, about a mile away on Wilshire Blvd. and Granville. After, at about 5:50pm the marchers began to move back towards the Federal Building.

A small counter-demonstration of about a dozen supporters of Israel and its actions were present at one of the corners of the Wilshire and Veteran intersection.

The Israel-Palestine conflict has been a hot button issue here on the UCLA campus, as USAC (Undergraduate Student Association Council) voted down the resolution “to Divest from Companies that Violate Palestinian Human Rights” with a 5-7-0 vote in a secret ballot.

In more recent campus news, future UC Student Regent designate and UCLA student Avi Oved has been accused of a possible conflict of interest after leaked e-mails made headlines on the Daily Bruin and the Daily Cal. A group-me text named “BruinsAgainstBDS” also came to light, where Oved asks “Should I sit on the investment committee lol (aka where divestment would come to… slash never really because it doesn’t stand a chance” and 2014-2015 USAC Internal Vice President Avinoam Baral responding “Yes.”

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Rallying for Education

By Samantha Lim and Esmeralda Alvarez

LOS ANGELES – The two day protest at the University of California Regents (UC Regents) meeting demonstrated a state-wide solidarity against fee hikes in California’s universities. Zealous students and staff stood together outside Covel Commons holding signs with expressions such as “Bail Out Education” and “Regents: Happy Thanks-Taking.” Students in all black held banners with “Mourn the Death of Public Education” painted in red as well as cardboard tombstones saying “RIP Public Education.”

The passion of UCLA fifth-year physics and Asian-American studies student, Pao, was particularly remarkable, especially in the morning hours. Calling out “who’s university?” Pao rallied protesters to “take that one little step” in voicing their opinion. Nearing the end of his career as an undergrad, Pao commented that these fee hikes were not going to affect him as much as others he knew who can barely survive as it is. He protested for them and for future generations asking, “If we don’t do this now, who’s gonna fight for them?”

Just to the side of the noisy, sign-holding crowd, was an advanced modern/postmodern dance class practicing Tai Chi. Ian Isles, a senior worlds arts and cultures (WAC) student at UCLA explained the WAC department’s decision to close the building and hold classes outside “so everyone comes to support [the protest and] so people can see what we’re doing.” Though silent, the class’ display was one way of showing the Board of Regents precisely who and what their decision affects.

UCLA students made up only part of protesters, with students and faculty from every UC campus arriving throughout the day and sleeping overnight in an on-campus “tent city” in order to protest the Nov. 19 vote. UC Santa Cruz Political Science student Reymundo Sauceda expressed a sense of loss of our public institutions that resonates across UC campuses. “Every year their proposed increases makes [the UC system] more privatized. Can we still call ourselves public?” Sauceda asked. Further, he expressed the sense of despair and abandonment that students so furiously felt and continue to feel, remarking, “The Regents are supposed to be the gate keepers…they should be taking a step with us…they should unite with students. They can’t see that they’re going against us by just having the vote on the table.”

The 20-1 vote passed an increase in fees from $7,788 to $10,302 beginning next fall, as well as a 15% fee increase this January.

Click here to read UC President Yudof’s letter concerning fee-increases.

Footage of the protest is also available here.

Update: Nov. 30, 2009

The UC Academic Senate issued this statement in regards to the protests held Nov. 18-19.