On Monday evening, an event entitled "Defending the Israeli Image" was held at UC Davis in Davis, California. The discussion, which was sponsored by the Chai-Life Club at UC Davis, Chabad of Davis and StandWithUs and led by two Israelis, was interrupted by hecklers. In particular, there was one individual who threw out bizarre accusations and slurs in an effort to shut down the discussion.
Here's how San Francisco Voice for Israel described the chaos that unfolded:
Ran, a Israeli reservist, and Ranya, a Druze woman whose father and brother fought in the IDF maintained their dignity and composure in spite of a consortium of haters from Students for Justice in Palestine, the MSA and JVP who had planned to disrupt their presentation. This young man, claiming to be a Medieval Studies major at Davis repeatedly interrupted the proceedings in a coarse and vulgar manner, while UC Davis security and police stood on and did nothing.
In a letter to the editor of The California Aggie, the university's newspaper, Dr. David Siegel (a professor at UC Davis School of Medicine) also outlined the antics that unfolded:
One individual planted himself at the back of the room and continuously shouted slurs (“rapists, murderers”) and refused to allow the event to proceed. Although most of the individuals who could be described as opposed to the ideas presented confined their behavior to occasional hooting and jeers, six to eight individuals felt empowered to prevent any collegial exchange of ideas. Under the circumstances, the Israelis, a former member of the Israeli Defense Forces and a Druze woman showed grace and courage.
Disgracefully, campus security and the UC Davis Police did nothing to prevent this behavior. I was told that they were following orders to do nothing unless there was violence. They also refused to take the names of the disruptive individuals. Clearly this sets a chilling precedent for future campus public events where one individual could disrupt the event without any fear of consequences.
So -- not only did the students interrupt to such a profound degree, but campus security reportedly did nothing to stop his behavior. In his letter, Siegel went on to call for a campus investigation and he urged officials to "take appropriate actions against those who behaved outside of the UC Davis code of conduct." Additionally, he hopes the school will prevent events like this from occurring in the future.
Another man named George Rooks (apparently a retired professor at UC Davis), wrote a letter to Police Chief Anette Spicuzza, who oversees officers at the university. In it, he said:
From the outset of the program, hecklers interrupted the program making it impossible for the program to proceed. One particular heckler hurled epithets at the speakers preventing their exercise of free speech--and the ability of the audience to listen...
After this had gone on for some time, I approached a police officer who was standing idly by and asked why he was there if not to ensure order--and why the heckler was not being removed. He specifically and absurdly responded to me: “We have been instructed by our superior not to stop hecklers, and if you try to stop the hecklers, we have been instructed to close down the program.”
Should an investigation take place, it won't be difficult to determine who the main offender was (the individual ranting on about "rape" and "murder" -- he even called the Israelis "child molesters" during his diatribe), as his outburst was caught on film.
"My only purpose today is that this event is shut down," he yelled. "You have turned Palestine into a land of prostitutes, rapists and child molesters."
Following these comments, another individual can be heard in the video asking, "Why don't you go back?" The heckler then responds, "I'm not from Palestine! I'm Indian!"
Here's the first clip, which completely corroborates Siegel's and Rooks' written recaps of what occurred on Monday evening:
In a second video, he can again be seen yelling statements at the Israeli presenters. He says, "How many women have you raped? How many children have you raped?"
In a separate letter to the editor, student Lyla Rayyan, a Senior International Relations And Communication Major, shared a very different perpective regarding what occurred that evening. While there isn't video to corroborate her claims, she makes no real mention of the disturbing events we see in the aforementioned videos. Of course, it's possible she missed this portion of the chaos, but her account is strikingly different:
There were admittedly hecklers from both sides. I have much respect for the mediator of the event, who tried to let everyone speak, even when pro-Israel attendees would not let people ask questions during the designated Q&A period. It is important for people to know that the event ended abruptly, not because of Palestinians rioting, but because the Jewish and Israeli community began yelling as soon as a Jewish American student got to the mike with statistics. He was not able to ask his question because as soon as he declared his position, people began shouting at him. Eventually a man grabbed the microphone from his hand, and people began swarming in on him as he yelled that this is what the Israeli community always does — limits the “dialogue” to their own terms and ends it before they can be criticized. That is not a democracy, despite what Israel supporters will tell you.
In the end, freedom of speech is certainly a freedom we all enjoy. But in this case, those attempting to exercise their rights by holding an event weren't able to do so, because of intervening forces. The university's next steps on the matter will be intriguing to observe.
(H/T: Gateway Pundit)