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Israeli lawyer to return to Berkeley after antisemitic mob shut down speech

Student government calls for ‘protecting Palestinian students’ ahead of event

An Israeli lawyer whose speech was shut down by a violent mob at the University of California Berkeley is scheduled to return to campus this evening.

Lawyer Ran Bar-Yoshafat, an Israeli Defense Force veteran, will give a revised speech at the event, sponsored by Tikvah Students for Israel and other pro-Israel groups, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

His new remarks will address the Feb. 26 protest that canceled his original speech, the Beacon reports. During the event, pro-Palestinian protesters shouted down Bar-Yoshafat, prompting campus police to escort attendees out the back door of the auditorium, The College Fix reported.

“I really think this is bigger than an Israeli issue or a Jewish issue,” Bar-Yoshafat told the Free Beacon. “This is Western civilization collapsing because people are not willing to even let me speak.”

His re-scheduled talk quickly received pushback from the university’s student government.

On Friday, the Associated Students at the University of California approved a resolution denouncing Bar-Yoshafat’s statements about Palestinians and calling for “protecting Palestinian students and their allies,” The Daily Californian reported.

Sponsored by the ASUC Middle Eastern, Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian Ad-Hoc Committee, the resolution “strongly encourages student groups to engage in and promote civil protest.” However, it also warns against violent and aggressive protesting.

Meanwhile, the university promised to provide security for the event.

“[The] administration is working in close concert with the university’s police department, and the hosting student organization in support of our commitment to safeguard the First Amendment rights of all,” a campus spokesperson told the Free Beacon.

UC Berkeley condemned the shut-down of Bar-Yoshafat’s previous speech in a March 4 statement, calling protesters’ actions “unacceptable.”

“This university has a long history of commitment to and support for nonviolent political protest that respects the First Amendment rights of others. That is not what occurred on Feb. 26. It was not peaceful civil disobedience. We condemn it in the strongest possible terms,” the university stated.

It also launched a criminal investigation into Feb. 26 incidents in which two Jewish students who helped organize the event were allegedly physically battered, according to the statement.

Authorities “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,” the university stated.

Speaking with the Free Beacon, Bar-Yoshafat said what happened Feb. 26 is a bad sign about the future of open discourse.

“I’m not that important. I’m a low-ranking officer,” he said. “If you’re not even willing to have a dialogue or discourse, that’s really the end of free speech, which is quite amazing, because the 1964 free speech movement started at Berkeley.”

MORE: Broken glass as pro-Palestinian students disrupt Israel UC Berkeley event

IMAGE: Tikvah / Instagram

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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.