The event was a conversation being conducted by the Israeli organization Reservists on Duty who were invited by two UC Irvine student groups, Republicans on Campus and Students Supporting Israel to provide support and assistance for pro-Israel students during “Anti-Zionism Week” at the university.
Some 40 minutes into the event, attended by 20 to 30 students, a handful of anti-Israel protesters entered the classroom, complete with Palestinian flags, keffiyehs, and using a loudspeaker to chant various slogans.
“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” and “IDF, what do you say? How many kids have you killed today?” were chanted by the protesters.
A large police presence had been placed outside the event due to the fierce anti-Israel sentiment and the hostility of various groups to such events, and several police officers entered the classroom and, after several minutes, cleared the protesters out without resistance.
The protesters remained outside of the classroom and continued to chant and disrupt the event, using the loudspeaker so as to make it difficult for the discussion to continue inside.
Once it was over, the five speakers from Reservists on Duty, together with the heads of Students Supporting Israel and Republicans on Campus, were given a police escort for their protection.
The disruption to the discussion was not the only hostile protest towards the Reservists on Duty organization and pro-Israel students during the course of UC Irvine’s Anti-Zionism Week.
Kayla Dolin, the project manager of Reservists on Duty, told The Jerusalem Post that one anti-Israel protester had called her “a Christ killer” and that she should “Get out of America.”
Dolin also said that among the chants of the anti-Israel protesters was “Long live the intifada,” which she described as being a clear call for violence.
“This campaign is very clearly about intimidation, hate and being anti-something,” she said. “They are anti-Israel, antisemitic activists who have the full support of the university administration.”
Last May, UC Irvine student activists from the Students for Justice in Palestine disrupted an event held by Reservists on Duty and were subsequently put on probation for violating university policy.
It is believed that the activists who disrupted this year’s event were not from Students for Justice in Palestine, in order to prevent further sanctions being issued against that group.
“We expect from the administrations of all campuses in America to allow free speech for everyone, equally, and even to encourage students not to be afraid of saying what they want,” said executive director Amit Deri. “We will continue to support and empower the pro-Israel community on college campuses and beyond.”
UC Irvine said in response that “to our knowledge, the protestors were not UCI students, so there will not be a student conduct review,” adding that the protestors cooperated with the police officers and complied with their request to leave the meeting.
“UCI is a diverse campus that is strengthened by a mix of cultures and opinions,” the university said in a statement to the Post. “The safety of all our students, faculty and staff is our utmost priority. All processes proceed with these fundamental commitments in mind. UCI’s commitment to providing a safe environment that allows ideas to flourish is unwavering.”