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UNLV cops shut down Israeli professor’s lecture rather than remove anti-Israel protesters

Cops cite ‘freedom of speech’ 

An Israeli physics professor’s lecture at the University of Nevada Las Vegas was interrupted by anti-Israel protesters late last month, but campus cops refused to remove them — citing the First Amendment.

This led Professor Asaf Peer, who was discussing the topic of black holes, to ask “What about my freedom of speech?”

According to The Jerusalem Post, Peer was but a mere quarter-hour into his lecture when the shouting protesters (pictured) “burst into the room […] with banners and flags.”

Protesters’ placards commemorated Islamic University of Gaza physicist Sufyan Tayeh (killed in a December Israeli airstrike) and accused Peer of getting his physics degree in “illegally occupied” territory via the 1948 Nakba.

In an edited video of the incident (below), a protester accuses Peer of “spreading violent rhetoric” on his Facebook account, and tells his students they should “all be ashamed of themselves.”

An Instagram statement by the UNLV chapter of Nevadans for Palestinian Liberation calls Peer an “anti Palestinian [sic] academic with extremist views” and a “genocide apologist.”

Peer, from Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, actually invited the activists to remain to learn about black holes and then discuss “unrelated issues” after his lecture.

But the demonstrators continued their antics, leading to the UNLV police to be called in. (No word if Peer’s lecture topic was an issue for the protesters.)

MORE: Israeli scholar to Notre Dame audience: Hamas ‘not morally equivalent’ to the IDF

The police had a discussion with the lecture’s organizer and ultimately decided to end Peer’s talk and escort him off campus for his “safety.”

Nevada Current reports UNLV Director of Public Affairs Francis McCabe said Peer’s lecture was an “open lecture as part of a public physics symposium.”

But according to the UNLV Policy on Speech and Advocacy in Public Areas, it doesn’t appear anyone can just shut down academic lectures:

[Free speech] activities must not, however, unreasonably interfere with the right of the University to conduct its affairs in an orderly manner and to maintain its property, nor may they interfere with the University’s obligation to protect rights of all to teach, study, and fully exchange ideas. Physical force, the threat of force, or other coercive actions used to subject anyone to a speech of any kind is expressly forbidden.



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Peer (pictured) told Nevada Current that police told him “since the event is announced as a public event, everyone has the right to be present in the room, and they have no right to ask anyone, including the protesters, out of the room [and] due to freedom of speech, they cannot enforce the protesters to be quiet.”

Members of the UNLV Jewish Faculty and Student Group and the local Anti-Defamation League pointed out free speech doesn’t mean “interruptions of academic opportunities,” and that targeting Peer due of his national origin is “unacceptable.”

UNLV President Keith Whitfield said in a statement the university is investigating the matter “to help determine how [it] can better handle such situations in the future.”

MORE: Jewish students spat on, told to ‘go back’ at Tufts: report

IMAGES: Jerusalem Post/X; Bar-Ilan University

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.