Denver, CO, May 12, 2010 ... Responding to reports that a group of anti-Israel protestors tried to silence an Israeli speaker at the University of Denver, shouting insults and disrupting the presentation, Bruce H. DeBoskey, Mountain States Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League issued the following statement:
We are dismayed and disturbed by the undemocratic, bullying and confrontational tactics used by protestors to try to disrupt and silence yesterday's presentation on military ethics by Israeli Col. (Ret.) Bentzi Gruber at the University of Denver. Nationally, ADL has seen an increasing use of disruptive tactics intended to silence the expression of pro-Israel views on campus.
Such mean-spirited efforts to stifle speech have no place in an academic environment where speakers should be free to express their ideas – and interested audiences have a right to hear those ideas – without fear or intimidation. A university campus should be the site of open discussion and exploration of varied viewpoints, not a place where speakers are harassed, interrupted and shouted down because others disagree with them.
We call on the University of Denver to issue a clear and forceful statement that such disruptive tactics are unacceptable, and that those who would disrupt presentations on campus will be asked to leave and promptly escorted out by security if necessary.
According to witnesses, on May 11, several dozen protesters attended Col. Gruber's presentation, repeatedly shouting insults, chanting and disrupting the presentation, which was focused on ethical issues faced by the Israeli military. At one point, a screaming protester tried to rush the podium and needed to be restrained. When protesters would not stop their disruptive behavior, university security and Denver police escorted them off the premises.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.