On Monday night, an event put on by the Columbia University chapter of Students Supporting Israel (SSI) was disrupted repeatedly by anti-Israel attendees. The event centered around Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon giving a lecture to a crowd of 300 students.
Originally, the crowd was going to have invited pro-Israel students and alumni who wanted to hear Danon speak, but the university would not allow this.
According to The Algemeiner, Columbia University forced SSI to slash the number of invited student, faculty, and alumni attendees down to 20, including the ambassador's security detail. They also forced SSI to submit the list of attendees for pre-approval. This left only 10 spots open.
Event co-sponsor Victor Muslin of Columbia Alums for Campus Fairness was also disappointed and lamented that “quite a few seats remained empty that could have been filled by those who…truly wanted to hear the ambassador but were turned away.”
The reason is that anti-Israel protesters planned an event on Facebook called "Racists Not Welcome" by the groups Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, and Columbia University Apartheid Divest to disrupt Danon's speech. According to event's Facebook page, they planned to protest Danon for various reasons, among those that he "cheers the murder of activists delivering aid to Gaza," and that he "is a cheerleader for Trump and the Republican right."
The aggressive feelings by anti-Israel students toward those who support Israel has created an atmosphere on campus that SSI Columbia chapter President Rudy Rochman described as feeling like a "war zone." According to him, this is typical for anyone who supports Israel at the Columbia University campus.
"You can survive here if you stick to yourself and don’t express your opinions. If you stand up for Israel, you are viciously shamed, targeted and slandered by these terrorist sympathizers who call Hamas a ‘liberation organization.’ This is the life we activists live here on campus,” said Rochman.
It was this "war zone" rhetoric that reportedly caused the university to take action in limiting the amount of pro-Israel guests attending the lecture, in an attempt to lessen any violence that may erupt due to the publicly planned protests.
When the time for Danon's speech came, the anti-Israel protesters made good on their plan as footage captured from various people shows. Protesters planted themselves in the audience, or barged into the room only to erupt in chants such as "racists not welcome," and "one, two, three, four, occupation no more."
Anti Israel protest outside @dannydanon talk at @Columbia. Chanting for destruction of Jewish state. https://t.co/EBz6JrYcaB— Lea Speyer (@Lea Speyer)1487031007.0
First group of protesters disrupt @dannydanon @Columbia speech. 'Racists not welcome.' Thrown out to applause, boos… https://t.co/By6adMIvdN— Lea Speyer (@Lea Speyer)1487034192.0
Danny Danon, #Israel's Ambassador to the UN is currently speaking at #Columbia University. Audience members have sh… https://t.co/apkBhNyEhW— Maccabee Task Force (@Maccabee Task Force)1487041325.0
Danon himself released footage, calling out the students for "hate and incitement," for chanting that "Israel is a terrorist state."
This is how hate and incitement looks like. https://t.co/9WJDa4vvwE— Ambassador Danny Danon | דני דנון (@Ambassador Danny Danon | דני דנון)1487036076.0
In response to chants of "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," Danon also says in a tweet that "Jerusalem is the eternal capitol of Israel, and that's not going to change."
These people don't recognize Israel's Right to exist. Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel and that is not go… https://t.co/99niAToZ8F— Ambassador Danny Danon | דני דנון (@Ambassador Danny Danon | דני דנון)1487035920.0
Danon told The Algemeiner that these kinds of tactics will not stop him from speaking out for Israel:
As Israel’s ambassador to the UN, I never shy away from speaking the truth and standing up for my country. Threats of violence and protests do not deter the brave students who stand on the front lines against the forces of BDS on campuses across the US, and those forces will not stop me from speaking in any place, and at any time, on behalf of the world’s only Jewish state.
A Columbia University spokesman has stated that the "small number" of students that disrupted the event would be dealt with "under the Rules of University Conduct.”
Rochman "highly doubts" that the University will take any measures to punish the disruptive.