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March 6, 2014 6

Protestors At Cal Poly Pomona Prevent Israeli Soldiers From Speaking

Stu­dents at Cal­i­for­nia State Poly­tech­nic Uni­ver­sity — Pomona shouted down a group of Israeli sol­diers who were invited to speak on their cam­pus by Hil­lel on Feb­ru­ary 27,

The sol­diers, who had intro­duced them­selves and explained that they would be deliv­er­ing per­sonal sto­ries about their lives and expe­ri­ences while serv­ing in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), were inter­rupted by stu­dent pro­test­ers who shouted “baby killers,” “rapists,” and “terrorists.”

Even before the sol­diers began their pre­sen­ta­tions, stu­dents in the audi­ence cov­ered their mouths with black tape and held posters that made var­i­ous alle­ga­tions con­cern­ing the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict. Shortly after the sol­diers started to intro­duce them­selves, the pro­test­ers per­sis­tently shouted in such a way that other stu­dents in the room were unable to hear what was being said.

Although some pro­test­ers were asked to leave the room, atten­dees had dif­fi­culty hear­ing the sol­diers’ pre­sen­ta­tions. Doron Feuer, the Pres­i­dent of the Cal Poly Pomona’s Hil­lel, told the cam­pus news­pa­per, The Poly Post that, “It was extremely dif­fi­cult for peo­ple to hear what the sol­diers were say­ing, even for the peo­ple sit­ting at the very front…What was sup­posed to be an edu­ca­tional event rapidly became a dis­rup­tive and chaotic experience.”

One of the sol­diers also spoke to the cam­pus news­pa­per and claimed he felt insulted by the pro­test­ers’ tac­tics, stat­ing, “It was sup­posed to be a civ­i­lized dia­logue, but I heard hatred and I saw hatred in their eyes…We came to talk about peace.”

ADL in Los Ange­les pro­vided resources to the Hil­lel on the Cal Poly Pomona cam­pus and con­tin­ues to work closely with the Jew­ish Fed­er­a­tion of the Greater San Gabriel & Pomona Val­leys on the community’s response to this inci­dent. ADL is equipped with a broad range of pre­ven­tive and reac­tive pro­grams and resources to address the chal­lenges of hate on cam­pus. We work to empower stu­dents, fac­ulty, staff and com­mu­nity mem­bers to stand up on their cam­puses and in their com­mu­ni­ties and effect change.

Stu­dent efforts to express oppo­si­tion to speak­ers or events on cam­pus are gen­er­ally part of a healthy cam­pus envi­ron­ment fos­ter­ing a free exchange of ideas. But are cer­tain dis­rup­tive tac­tics com­monly used by anti-Israel activists that are anath­ema to those ideals.

While anti-Israel protests may be pro­tected by free speech rights, the protests can­not dis­rupt nor­mal school func­tions, obstruct access to school build­ings, cre­ate per­va­sive, severe, or per­sis­tent harass­ment, or phys­i­cally intim­i­date or threaten indi­vid­u­als. When the protests vio­late these para­me­ters, stu­dents should alert the uni­ver­sity and ask admin­is­tra­tors to take action.

These dis­rup­tion tac­tics vary and can range from inter­rupt­ing the speaker and pre­vent­ing him or her from speak­ing to silent protests. For exam­ple, on March 3, 2014, Israeli Pro­fes­sor Josef Olmert faced silent pro­test­ers at San Diego State Uni­ver­sity as he deliv­ered a guest lec­ture to a Polit­i­cal Sci­ence class.

The stu­dents stood in the back of the class­room and held signs with provoca­tive state­ments such as, “Zion­ism = Racism,” “SDSU DIVEST,” “Boy­cott Israel.” After Olmert’s pre­sen­ta­tion, the stu­dents con­tin­ued to protest out­side of the lec­ture hall.


    I agree with the author. I also am opposed to Zion­ist expan­sions into the Pales­tin­ian Occu­pied Ter­ri­to­ries and the set­tle­ments (all of them). I oppose the IDF tac­tics and goals. How­ever I DO SUPPORT THEIR RIGHT TO EXPRESS THEIR EXPERIENCES AND OPINIONS HOWEVER MUCH I MAY DISAGREE.
    It is unfor­tu­nate that stu­dents, occa­sion­ally con­sid­ered edu­cated, behave in such an unde­mo­c­ra­tic man­ner while espous­ing fair­ness. Of course this is Cal Poly (!) not San Diego, no bas­tion of lib­er­al­ism itself. I APOLOGIZE TO THE ISRAELIS. So should the ill man­nered unde­mo­c­ra­tic demonstrators.

    James Koss, MD FAAEM

    • debbie8431

      While I appre­ci­ate what you have to say about allow­ing them to express them­selves, Dr. Koss, I’m curi­ous what you believe the goals of the IDF are. And what tac­tics, specif­i­cally? Thanks in advance.

    • Hadara S.

      Thank you for believ­ing in the God-given right to freely express one’s ideas. I would also love to engage you in con­ver­sa­tion one day, if you like, about what your con­cerns are with the Israeli Army, but for now, your sup­port of free speech is enough.

  • Tif

    So much for being anti bully. This behav­ior really shows their true agenda. This has noth­ing to do with any­thing other than being anti Israel. What are they afraid of? Every­one should be allowed to speak and share their expe­ri­ences or we just live in a bub­ble. Sad and pathetic that those shout­ing weren’t all removed.

  • Susan Barnes

    Peo­ple who dis­rupt meet­ings like that should be arrested and prosecuted.

  • Miri57

    And these stu­dents call them­selves democratic?