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March 1, 2012 1

Attempts to Silence Pro-Israel Voices on Campus Continue

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.

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