Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Emma Camp

Berkeley Students Violently Shut Down Event Featuring Israeli Attorney

Earlier this week, protestors at the University of California, Berkeley, violently shut down an event organized by a Jewish student group, which featured Israeli attorney Ran Bar-Yoshafat. Protestors organized by the student group Bears for Palestine prevented students from entering the building where the talk was supposed to take place, chanted "Long live the intifada," and broke glass doors.

Several students who attempted to attend the event claim they were physically assaulted by the protestors. One attendee claims she was grabbed by the neck and another says he was spit on.

"It was an extremely frightening experience," Berkeley student Veda Keyvanfar told Fox News on Wednesday. "The door to the venue was ripped out of my hand by a mob of protesters and my hand was injured in the process…we are allowed as students to host any type of speaker, and to attend any event we want to, we are not in the wrong at all."

The disruption wasn't simply a protest that got out of hand—it was a pre-planned attempt to prevent the event from going forward. An Instagram post from Bears for Palestine about the event said "We are 'combatting the lies' by SHUTTING IT DOWN," adding that Bar-Yoshafat "is a genocide denier, and we will not allow for this event to go on."

The event was canceled after university officials determined that they couldn't guarantee student safety "given the size of the crowd and the threat of violence," according to a university statement. Students attending the event had to be escorted out the back of the building. According to the Associated Press, the local police department received multiple calls over the event, and a university spokesperson confirmed that the school was opening a criminal investigation into students' behavior.

So far, the Berkeley administration has taken a strong stance against the students who disrupted Monday's event. 

"We deeply respect the right to protest as intrinsic to the values of a democracy and an institution of higher education," reads a Tuesday statement from Chancellor Carol Christ and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Benjamin Hermalin. "Yet, we cannot ignore protest activity that interferes with the rights of others to hear and/or express perspectives of their choosing. We cannot allow the use or threat of force to violate the First Amendment rights of a speaker, no matter how much we might disagree with their views."

Videos of the protestors have received significant social media attention, leading to calls to expel or discipline students who engaged in the disruption.

"Everyone has a right to due process. But violent rioters have no place at any institution devoted to the fearless pursuit of truth. Certainly not at Berkeley, home of the Free Speech Movement," Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) President Greg Lukianoff and FIRE senior writer Angel Eduardo wrote in a recent column in The Free Press."Violence is not extreme speech, but the antithesis of speech—and the antithesis of what higher education is supposed to be all about."

Lukianoff and Eduardo are right—if you care about securing university students' free speech rights, punishing disruptive and violent protestors is absolutely necessary. While students have the right to peacefully protest an event, preventing individuals from hearing a speaker, damaging a building, and physically assaulting attendees obviously crosses a line into unprotected conduct. 

The only way to prevent speaker disruptions is for administrators to take a clear stand against them, and punish those responsible. When universities crack down on disruptive or violent protest tactics, they set a precedent, and send a clear message to student activists who are planning on protesting an event: that disruptive, speech-quashing conduct won't be tolerated.

The post Berkeley Students Violently Shut Down Event Featuring Israeli Attorney appeared first on

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.