Last week, a group of pro-Palestinian students disrupted a panel discussion at University of California, Irvine of Israeli Defense Force (IDF) reservists who were fielding questions from students interested in hearing the Israeli perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The group of approximately 40 student activists barged into the room and started shouting and chanting at the panel of Israelis for several minutes.
“Israel, Israel, you can’t hide. We charge you with genocide,” and ” Israel, Israel, what do you say? How many people have you killed today?” were among the loud, shrieking chants that were shouted at those gathered. Some of the pro-Palestinian activists worn keffiyehs and sported Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) t-shirts.
Before exiting the room, a female activist shouted, “You people are colonizers and occupiers. You should not be allowed on this fucking campus. You’ve been stealing our land since 1948.” She then shouted what sounded like, “Fuck you! Israel, Israel die!” and signaled, with the nod of her head, to another female activist that they were leaving.
The pro-Palestinian protesters were met by campus officers who “safely” escorted them to the end of the parking lot. According to the Jerusalem Post, “no arrests were made.”
According to the Jerusalem Post, “The army veterans were visiting the campus as part of Project Gideon – an initiative of Reservists on Duty, an anti-BDS group in Israel in collaboration with the Lone Soldier Center – which enlists American IDF reservists to fight against BDS on university and college campuses across North America.”
“Anti-Zionism week,” which is also known as “Israel-Apartheid Week,” and more colloquially as “Israel hate week,” is organized by the Muslim Student Union, Jewish Voice for Peace [sic], Students for Justice in Palestine, and the American Indian Student Association. The events on campus took place under the title, “Anti-Zionism: The Roots of Oppression.”
Earlier this month, UC Irvine student Kevin Brum was reportedly protesting against the anti-Israel activities of SJP when he was approached by a member of the Black Student Union.
“He told me he loved Hitler because he killed white people,” Brum told the Observer.
UC Irvine reportedly issued a statement about the events. The school described anti-Israel week as being part of a series of events on campus meant to “encourage diversity, understanding and dialogue”:
Each year, UCI student groups hold a variety of events on campus to encourage diversity, understanding and dialogue.
On Wednesday, May 10, Students Supporting Israel sponsored a discussion session featuring a panel of Israeli veterans. During the question-and-answer period, in the final 30 minutes of the session, a group of approximately 40 people entered the venue to ask questions. The discussion became heated, with shouting and chanting for several minutes. A UCI administrator, who was on the scene throughout the event, coordinated an orderly flow of questions and notified the UCI Police Department. The group of 40 left before the police arrived and the session continued without incident. Police officers escorted the panelists safely to the parking lot at the end of the event. No arrests were made.
UCI campus leadership immediately met to discuss the situation. The Office of Academic Integrity & Student Conduct is reviewing the incident and will make a recommendation on the appropriate course of action, if any. There is no outcome at this time and the review process is ongoing.
UCI actively supports diverse views and civil discourse. We stress thoughtful, respectful dialogue with the idea that unfettered speech is more powerful when accompanied by respect for others. We also believe members of our campus community have a right to meet peacefully and express ideas in a safe environment. The safety of our students, faculty and staff is our utmost priority.