Pro-Israel speaker returns to UC Berkeley after February's violent protests

Ran Bar-Yoshafat, a former Israeli soldier, returned to speak at UC Berkeley this March after students swarmed over his previous event in February, shutting it down.

After the February event was shut down, Berkeley leaders wrote: ‘We want to express our deep remorse and sympathy to those students and members of the public who were in the building, fearing for their safety.’

Israeli speaker Ran Bar-Yoshafat spoke at the University of California, Berkeley this March after students interrupted a previous lecture by him this February and allegedly threatened attendants’ safety. 

Bar-Yoshafat, who formerly served in the Israel Defense Forces, spoke on UC Berkeley’s campus on Feb. 26, but the event was interrupted after anti-Israel protestors forced their way into the building where the event was held, breaking a window in the process. 

Event attendees had to be removed for their own safety due to the protestors’ actions, the Los Angeles Times wrote.

[RELATED: UC Berkeley is latest subject of congressional investigation into campus anti-Semitism]

UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Benjamin Hermalin published a message the day after the event to address the incident: “We want to express our deep remorse and sympathy to those students and members of the public who were in the building, fearing for their safety. . . . We share your anger and concern, and we understand that we must do all that we can to prevent anything like this from happening again.”

“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. . . . The attack on the building, and on the event, was an attack on the fundamental values of the university, which are also essential to maintain and nurture open inquiry and an inclusive civil society, the bedrock of a genuinely democratic nation,” the message continued. 

In an update sent on March 4, Christ and Hermalin wrote that “UCPD and OPHD received reports that two of the Jewish students who organized the event, as well as some of the attendees, were subjected to overtly antisemitic expression. UCPD is investigating these two alleged incidents, which also included allegations of physical battery, as hate crimes. They are also investigating other reports of illegal conduct, including one additional allegation of physical battery upon a student. One criminal suspect has been identified to date, for trespassing.”

“Political protest is about opposition to an idea, action or policy. Antisemitic expression is a frightening attack on an entire people,” they continued. 

In addition to the UCPD investigation, a federal investigation was also initiated on March 5 regarding the incident, wrote the Los Angeles Times

[RELATED: UC Berkeley student speaks out about ‘horrific day for Jewish students,’ says freshman female was ‘choked’ during violent protest: WATCH]

Bar-Yoshafat returned to campus on March 18 for a talk titled “Israel’s position in the international community & international law during times of war,” according to an Instagram post by the Berkeley Chapter of Students Supporting Israel and Berkeley Tikvah. 

“You can’t silence Ran,” the groups stated on Instagram. 

A UC Berkeley official told Campus Reform ahead of the event that “there will be increased security and new protocols in place.” 

Campus Reform has reached out to Students Supporting Israel in Berkeley and Berkeley Tikvah for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.