Recent disruptions of pro-Israel events on campus illustrate the continuing use of tactics intended to silence Israeli voices and the expression of pro-Israel views.
On February 27, Students from the University of California - Davis chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) staged a walkout during a presentation by former soldiers who served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). One student defiantly stood up and shouted obscenities at the speakers, claiming that Israel has “turned the land of Palestine into a land of prostitutes and rapists and child molesters,” and harassed the speaker, asking him, “How many women have you raped? How many children have you raped? You are a child molester.” During his outburst, the heckler defended his actions as a free speech right yet noted, “My only purpose today is that this event is shut down,” an obviously ironic use of free speech rights.
|SAFE representatives prior to Feb. 21 walkout|
A disruption also occurred the next day at UCLA when dozens of SJP members with duct tape fastened to their mouths and signs reading “Silenced” walked out in the middle of an IDF soldier’s presentation.
On February 21, representatives from SAFE (Students Allied for Freedom and Equality), an anti-Israel group at Michigan State University, staged a similar walkout of a speech featuring former Israeli soldiers.
While the soldiers were able to finish their presentations in all three cases, these incidents illustrate an unwillingness by anti-Israel groups and individuals to allow the pro-Israel voice a space to be heard, an unfortunate position given that college campuses should serve as a venue for the free exchange of ideas, not a place to “shut down” views one may disagree with.
The strategy first began in earnest in the 2009-2010 school year with loud disruptions of, among others, speeches by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at the University of Chicago and Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren at the University of California, Irvine.