Building evacuated as angry mob of Berkeley students violently shuts down Jewish event: 'Dirty Jew'

'“This isn’t an isolated incident. This is a continuous trend that’s persisted my entire time on campus. Jewish hate. The targeting of Jewish students,' said an event organizer.

JCRC Bay Area Video

Pro-Palestine protesters at the University of California, Berkeley, violently shut down an event that featured a former Israel Defence Forces member on Monday night.

The event on Monday night featuring Ran Bar Yoshafat, a former member of the IDF and lawyer, was titled “Israel at War: Combat the Lies,” and would address the country’s “international legal challenges,” according to the Daily Californian. It was sponsored by Bears for Israel, Tikvah, Club Z, and the Israeli Consulate to the Pacific Northwest.

Bears for Palestine, a Pro-Palestine group at the University of California, Berkeley, announced on social media before the event that it would be “SHUTTING IT DOWN.”

”In October of 2023, Ran Bar-Yoshafat was serving in the IOF, partaking in the obliteration of Gaza and extermination of Palestinians,” a Sunday post by the group states. “He has now been invited to speak on our campus to spread settler colonial Zionist propaganda about the very genocide he has participated in. This individual is dangerous. Ran Bar-Yoshafat has Palestinian blood on his hands. He has committed crimes against humanity, is a genocide denier, and we will not allow for this event to go on. GENOCIDAL MURDERERS OUT OF BERKELEY.”

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The group went on to encourage others to help “shut it down” at 6 p.m. and gave protesters the location of the event.

Pro-Palestine protesters successfully prevented Yoshafat from speaking, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, smashing a window and shutting down the event. Around 200 protesters mobbed the building and prevented people from entering, the university said, adding that doors were broken and the building was evacuated.

”Minutes before the event was to start, a crowd of some 200 protesters began to surround the building. Doors were broken open and the protesters gained unauthorized entry to the building. The event was canceled, and the building was evacuated to protect the speaker and members of the audience,” reads a university statement. 

Danielle Sobkin, an organizer for the event and co-president of Bears for Israel, told The Chronicle that one of the people in the mob grabbed a sophomore attempting to enter the event and called him a “dirty Jew,” also spitting on him.

Sobkin said that a senior was also shoved into an auditorium door by the protesters and a freshman was grabbed by her neck.

“This isn’t an isolated incident. This is a continuous trend that’s persisted my entire time on campus. Jewish hate. The targeting of Jewish students,” Sobkin said. “For a lot of us, this was the tipping point. The last straw,” 

Dan Mogulof, a spokesperson for the university, told the outlet that about 200 students mobbed Zellerbach Playhouse on campus, where the event took place.

“I can’t emphasize how seriously we’re taking this, and how appalling it is,” he said, adding that the students stationed at Sather Gate are also violating campus rules. “We are working as we speak to address that,” Mogulof said.

The event was initially set to take place outside of Wheeler Hall on campus, but a massive crowd gathered outside the building interrupted classes, Sobkin said, prompting a shift to Zellerbach Playhouse, where protesters followed.

Bears for Palestine, who organized the protest that turned violent, hasn’t apologized for the event and continues to promote its “Apartheid Week,” which is a series of on-campus events scheduled for March 3-8.

In a post titled “Upholding our Values,” Chancellor Carol Christ and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Benjamin Hermalin wrote that the protest violated university policies.

”We are committed to responding to violations of our “Time, Place, and Manner” rules. We deeply respect the right to protest as intrinsic to the values of a democracy and an institution of higher education,” they wrote. “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. We cannot allow the use or threat of force to imperil members of our community and deny them the ability to feel safe and welcome on our campus. We cannot cede our values to those willing to engage in transgressive behavior.”

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”We will in the days ahead decide on the best possible path to fully understand what happened and why; to determine how we will address what occurred; and to do everything possible to preclude a repeat of what happened,” the administrators added.