Creative Community for Peace Condemns Harassment, Hate and Intimidation vs Freedom of Expression at UC Irvine Campus Event
May 23, 2016 – Los Angeles, CA – We at Creative Community For Peace (CCFP) were disturbed to learn that students were forcibly prevented from screening an Israeli film at UC Irvine recently. Approximately 50 protesters attempted to force their way into the event with the goal of shutting it down, leading university police to escort attendees away for their safety.
The radical organization which caused the disruption, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), claims to “work to provide a comfortable environment where students and faculty can discuss and debate their diverse views on the various aspects of Palestinian politics and society.” But blocking students who wish to see a film being shown on campus seems, at best, hypocritical – if they are indeed open to “debate and diverse views.”
We strongly agree with UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman, who, responding to the incident, said, “We must shelter everyone’s right to speak freely – without fear or intimidation – and allow events to proceed without disruption and potential danger,” according to an article in the Orange County Register on May 20th, (linked above).
Film is a fantastic medium for exposing ourselves to new and challenging ideas. Though we may strongly disagree with those ideas, we are nevertheless enriched by grappling with them. Universities, in particular, are meant to be bastions of open intellectual inquiry.
“We are profoundly disappointed that the students at UC Irvine chose intimidation over illumination,” said David Renzer, chairman of Spirit Music Group and CCFP co-founder.
Supporting freedom of expression does not mean suppressing someone else’s ability to do so, nor creating an environment of fear and intimidation. College campuses should be safe spaces for all students.
Creative Community For Peace (CCFP) is an entertainment industry organization that represents a cross-section of the creative world dedicated to promoting the arts as a means to peace and to countering the cultural boycott of Israel. We may not all share the same politics or the same opinion on the best path to peace between Palestinians and Israelis. But we do agree that singling out Israel as a target of cultural boycotts will not further peace.
We understand the power that our music, our films, our television shows, and all arts have. Art and culture create civilizations and are essential ingredients in the human journey, critical to the wellbeing of society, to build trust and understanding, and to healing. We encourage artists to participate, rather than shun, to express rather than suppress. If anything, turn up the music, expose our art to wider audiences, and encourage people from all cultures to interact, communicate and inspire peace and understanding. www.creativecommunityforpeace.com