An Israeli delegation attempting to hold an event in May met with violence from supporters of the anti-Semitic BDS movement.
The event was scheduled to be held at the University of California in Irvine, and a delegation from “Reservists on Duty” arrived to present a unique perspective on the Israeli-Arab conflict and life in Israel.
“Reservists on Duty” is an Israeli NGO which aims to fight propaganda from anti-Israel organizations such as BDS. It was founded by Israeli reserve soldiers and officers in December 2015.
According to Hebrew-language newspaper Yediot Ahronot, students from the anti-Israel “Students for Justice in Palestine” (SJP) arrived at the campus “saturated with anti-Semitism” and began to do everything possible in order to silence the reserve soldiers who had arrived.
SJP attempted to prevent Reservists on Duty from meeting with the students, and one SJP representative spat on the face of a female Israeli delegate.
Events reached their peak during the question and answer panel, when the reservists invited all pro-Palestinian participants to participate in a discussion. However, instead of participating, the anti-Israel group attempted to silence the Israelis with screams and curses, preventing them from speaking.
After approximately 20 minutes of disturbances, campus security and police officers walked the Israelis back to their vehicle.
Reservists on Duty complained to the university’s management, which requested local police open an investigation into the matter. The Israelis presented the campus police with videos of the disturbances, and claimed that for the entire week they had suffered curses, humiliation, and were spat on. They also said that during the main event, the pro-Palestinian group barged into the hall and ruined the conference with their verbal abuse.
A few days ago, the university’s management sanctioned SJP. Over the next two academic years, the group will be on probation and will be required to undergo twelve workshops on how to preserve freedom of speech. In addition, they will need to receive special permission to hold events on campus.
In a statement, the university said, “UCI welcomes all opinions and encourages a free exchange of ideas – in fact, we defend free speech as one of our bedrock principles as a public university. Yet, we must protect everyone’s right to express themselves without disruption.”
Reservists on Duty Director Amit Deri said on Sunday night, “We thank the university for their decision. SJP crossed the boundary of legitimate [protest], and became an anti-Semitic body which spreads lies about Israel and frightens Jewish and pro-Israel students.