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[Editor’s note: To order the Freedom Center’s new pamphlet, Muslim Hate Groups on Campus by Daniel Greenfield, click here.]
In the wake of Israeli Apartheid Week, the international campaign to delegitimize the state of Israel, campus hate groups have stepped up their aggressive pressure on Jewish students and speakers. The last week of February was marked by anti-Israel ugliness at two University of California events that left Jewish students feeling, as a letter to the UC President put it, “targeted, intimidated, harassed, and unsafe.”
On February 27 at University of California at Davis, Jewish student groups presented a talk entitled “Israeli Soldiers Speak Out” featuring Ran Bario Bar-Yoshafat, an Israeli reservist, and Ranya Fadel, a Druze woman whose father and brother fought in the Israeli Defense Force. The two had visited at least ten campuses across the United States in an effort to engage students of all political stripes in a dialogue about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to dispel the biased media narrative about the Israeli military.
But members of the UC Davis branch of the national Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) had conspired on a strategy for suppressing the free speech of the scheduled speakers: pack the room with pro-Palestinian students, many of whom would walk out together during the event, leaving other members behind to disrupt the event relentlessly. Students for Justice in Palestine exists primarily for campus promotion of the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaigns and others efforts to cripple the Jewish state.
The UC Davis event was attended by anywhere from 125-200 students (estimates vary). As Ran himself told it to me, approximately 20-30 seemed pro-Israel, perhaps 20 were neutral, and the remainder were very vocally pro-Palestinian. The event was disrupted from the beginning by hecklers intent on preventing it from going forward. On this video, one brazen heckler who claimed to be Indian, not Palestinian, challenged someone to “Remove me! Remove me!” (which campus security did not do), then began spewing at the speakers:
I will stand here and I will heckle. My only purpose today is that this event is shut down! My only purpose today is that this event is shut down!
He then became so incensed that spit flew as he ranted:
You have turned Palestine into a land of prostitutes and rapists and child molesters!
On a separate video he can be observed demanding of the speakers,
How many women have you raped? How many children have you raped? You are a child molester!
Again he begged to be arrested. No response from security, although he was eventually persuaded to leave voluntarily. But within minutes (as soon as Ran mentioned the word “Israel,” according to one witness), perhaps 40 students left in a coordinated walkout, their seats then filled by other pro-Palestinian students who had been lining the walls at the standing-room-only event. The talk progressed with difficulty as the heckling continued nearly unabated. When Ran and Ranya mentioned soldier friends who had been killed in the conflict, the pro-Palestinian students laughed. The question-and-answer period devolved into shouted statements of accusations of Israeli atrocities from the crowd, but no questions, and so the event organizers curtailed it.
Ran told me that some Muslim students approached him and Ranya to tell them that the disrupters were not representative of all, and that, although they disagreed with the speakers, they felt that they could at least talk with them. But many of the others closed in aggressively enough to warrant concern that things might get physical, so security escorted the speakers away.
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