Israel Deserves Representation at UCLA

By Liat Menna
This past week, the office of General Representative 2 in the Undergraduate Students Association Committee at UCLA held its first ever Night Market. The event’s goal was to celebrate culture. The cosponsors of the event included many groups: Nikkei Student Union, Bangali Student Association, Pakistani Student Association, Sikh Student Association, INDUS, MeCha de UCLA, Iranian Student Group, Muslim Student Association, Samahang Pilipino, American Indian Student Association, Armenian Students Association, Hillel, and of course Students for Justice in Palestine.

As a proud Jew and Zionist I found the sponsorship alarming. I felt that Israeli culture was unrightfully excluded. If Israel is one of the most politicized and talked about issues on campus, then why is it that when an event like this arises Israel is excluded from the conversation? Although Hillel was represented, I did not find this justifiable. Therefore, to say Hillel is included is just a façade. It is meant to show that the event is not anti-Semitic and avert from appearing Zionophobic. 

Indeed, this is not excusable, so I went ahead and called out the program on its mistake. First, I reached out privately to the General Representative 2 Office, but seeing no response I proceeded to post my message directly on the public event page. The message read as follows: 
“Hello. My name is Liat Menna and I am the president of students supporting Israel at UCLA. It seems that the cultures represented are all Middle Eastern and as a Jew who is Israeli, I very much identify as a middle eastern. I wanted to know how to get involved in the night market. I am concerned about the message this event is pursuing by not including Israeli culture. Neither Students Supporting Israel nor any other Israel organization was reached out to for this event. I really hope we can have Israeli culture represented as well since it is part of the Middle East. I have sent you a message and saw that you read it so please respond soon since the event is 
this Monday. Thank you, your fellow bruin.”

Almost immediately the message received great attention with over 100 “likes” and over a dozen messages of support. It got more attention than the event itself. Realizing that they made a big mistake and seeing that there was a loud call to include Israel, the representative office finally answered. 
The Vice President of Bruins for Israel (BFI) and I followed up with an email, addressing these concerns again on behalf of both our organizations. Our efforts paid off, and we were permitted to table at the event. 

With limited time, due to the last minute inclusion, Students Supporting Israel put together tabling materials. We walked onto the site with a big Israeli flag, handed the organizers some Israeli music to add to their playlist, and made sure to include Israel as part of the celebration of cultures, proudly.
Liat Menna is the Founder of Students Supporting Israel at UCLA.