Pro-Palestine students shout down openly gay Israeli vet
A recent pro-Israel event at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign was promptly shouted down by the school’s Students for Justice (SJP) in Palestine chapter.
The Monday event featured writer and international advocate for Israel, Hen Mazzig, who served as an openly gay commander and worked as an intermediary between the Israel Defense Forces and Palestinian Authority members.
"U of I must take responsibility...to ensure the safety of the students and to prevent such attacks on free speech and against minorities."
“[We] were greeted with the utmost disrespect and hatred far beyond what we could imagine,” Illinois Students Supporting Israel (ISSI), which hosted the program, told Campus Reform, commenting on the several members of SJP who showed up to the event with signs containing such as “fascists off our campus” and “free Palestine.”
Before Mazzig was able to even begin the question and answer segment, Palestinian activists yelled, chanted, waved signs in the speaker’s face before proceeding to storm out of the room, refusing to engage the speaker in dialogue.
“There is a line between distaste for the Israeli government and disdain for those who support the State of Israel,” ISSI later commented, with Mazzig telling Campus Reform that “protests at my talks are nothing new.”
“A year ago in London, UK a group of 150 protesters tried to shut me down at UCL,” Mazzig continued. “The homophobia and hatred displayed by SJP in my talk, the fact that they mocked me, laughed at me, shouted at me for sharing my story of coming out of the closet, of my grandfather killed by Iraqis for being Jewish—this is all unacceptable.”
Similarly, ISSI attributed Monday’s incident to the “rise in anti-Zionism” on campus, with the incident coming just two weeks after anarchist organization “Black Rose/Rosa Negra” burned an Israeli flag in Urbana and students vandalized a Menorah display near campus.
Notably, In a September mass mail to students and faculty, University Chancellor Robert Jones spoke out against “anti-Semitic attacks hidden under the guise of anti-Zionist rhetoric,” but Mazzig said that despite the rhetorical support, he found himself “disturbed and shaken” by the events that transpired Monday.
“U of I must take responsibility,” he concluded. “The responsibility falls on the administration to ensure the safety of the students and to prevent such attacks on free speech and against minorities.”
Campus Reform reached out to the university for comment on the matter, but did not receive a response.
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