Anti-Israel activists prevented Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat from addressing an audience at San Francisco State University on Wednesday.
Video footage of the protests was captured by Masha Merkulova, the San Mateo-based founder of Club Z, a Jewish nonprofit organization that educates youth on Israel.
“They should have prepared for it,” Merkulova said, noting that the SFSU police department knew that the school was hosting a guest speaker that would attract protesters. “And instead, they were completely inept.”
Barkat was visiting SFSU as part of a campus lecture tour series in the United States. His next speech will be at Columbia University in New York on Thursday.
Merkulova said the event and protests finally ended with the crowd of 40 who were present for Barkat’s speech applauding him as “he exited the room to the jeers of the [anti-Israel] crowd.”
She told Breitbart News that Barkat spoke for no more than five minutes before anti-Israel students stormed the room, shouting and drowning out his voice for the next 45 minutes. The recordings show Barkat’s lone voice struggling against a group of about 25 screaming anti-Israel protesters, chanting “Free, free Palestine!” and “If we don’t get no justice, you don’t get no peace!” They allegedly used an amplifier as well.
“They were screaming ‘Intifada! Intifada!’ to my face, and I felt very threatened by their intimidating screams and the content of what they were saying, so I called 911 to report terrorist activity,” Merkulova said. She said she was informed that plainclothes police were present in the room and was told not worry about it.
However, Merkulova noted that the officers did nothing to stop the protesters from drowning out Barkat, citing the protesters’ First Amendment rights to free speech.
“Everywhere in the country is a free speech zone,” Merkulova said. “But they were preventing my right from hearing the speaker.”
Masha pointed out that when Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren spoke at UV Irvine in 2011, 10 Muslim students who disrupted his speech were removed. The students were subsequently identified and charged with disrupting his talk, placed on three years of informal probation, and ordered to perform 56 hours of community service.
“I would call the protesters antisemitic. And to be honest they are not pro-Palestinian,” Merkulova said. She added, “I am for Palestinians. I feel badly for how they are being used by everybody and especially the Arab world as a scapegoat. Instead of solving their problems, they are holding the Palestinians hostage” in order to undermine the state of Israel, she said.
Merkulova noted that it was “rare” to have fewer anti-Israel protesters than spectators present for Wednesday’s speech. “This was rare. There are usually more of them than there are of us.”
Mayor Barkat reportedly issued a statement in response to the incident:
Anyone who thinks that calls for violence and incitement will be able to silence us or divert us from our position is mistaken. We will continue to build, develop and strengthen the State of Israel and within it a united Jerusalem and we will continue to voice our opinions and our legitimacy when we are invited to do so, even in places where they try to stop us.
Growing antisemitic sentiment has been documented across California campuses. Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) recently introduced two piece of unprecedented legislation to counter the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel in California.
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz.