ASUC Senate Session Focuses on Fight

ASUC Senate Meeting Attendees Discuss Fight Between Pro-Israel and Pro-Palestine Advocates

Photo: Dionne Jirachaikitti, external affairs vice president, speaks to members of the ASUC Wednesday about tensions between students.
Anna Hiatt/Staff
Dionne Jirachaikitti, external affairs vice president, speaks to members of the ASUC Wednesday about tensions between students.

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ASUC Senate Meeting: November 19, 2008

Clips from speakers at the ASUC Senate meeting on November 19, 2008

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Students lined the walls of the ASUC Senate chambers last night to address their concerns following a fight between Israel and Palestine advocates in the very same building nearly a week ago.

Although the sessions are generally sparsely attended, last night's ASUC meeting saw the senate chambers packed with about 70 students in addition to the 20 senators, including some calling for ASUC Senator John Moghtader's removal from the senate.

Last night's meeting was the first following last Thursday's altercation in Eshleman Hall. The incident was sparked after three pro-Palestine students hung Palestinian flags from the second-floor balcony during a concert for Israel Liberation Week in the plaza below.

Former ASUC Senator Gabe Weiner and performer Yehuda De sa went to the balcony from the concert in an effort to have the flags removed. Moghtader said he went with them to witness whatever would take place.

Representatives from Moghtader's party, SQUELCH!, announced last night that the party is disaffiliating itself from the senator.

Party signatory Andy Morris did not mention the incident in his reasoning for the party's disaffiliation with Moghtader.

Many students came to address the senate with their opinions and concerns, and about 30 signed up to make guest announcements. Some attendees advocated for the recall of Moghtader from the senate.

Though Moghtader has not been cited, UCPD Assistant Chief Mitch Celaya said police are asking the Alameda County District Attorney's Office to file battery charges against him based on witness statements.

In addition, two of the Palestinian students who helped hang the flags, Husam Zakharia and Dina Omar, were cited with battery. Weiner, who is a recent graduate, was also cited with battery following the fight.

ASUC officials acknowledged the high tensions during the meeting, which often incited snaps and claps after students spoke.

"I feel a lot of energy in this room and I sense anger on this campus since last Thursday," said External Affairs Vice President Dionne Jirachaikitti. "It is unacceptable to me that this happened on this campus, and it is unacceptable to me that the ASUC not do anything about it."

As of 11 p.m. students had just begun to recount the events of the night and make heated accusations on both sides of the issue.

A community forum took place on Monday night to address concerns about the issue, but ASUC Executive Vice President Krystle Pasco said she feels the campus community must continue to work to resolve their differences, including discussing them at last night's meeting.

"After some reflection of my own after that night, I think our campus needs a lot more dialogue and a lot more healing before we can even begin to talk about solutions," she said.


Valerie Woolard covers student government. Contact her at [email protected]

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