Hat Tip: Gary Fouse
Anti-Israel protesters disrupt Israeli movie screening at UC Irvine
By ROXANA KOPETMAN / STAFF WRITER
Amid chants of “Long live the intifada,” anti-Israel student protesters disrupted the viewing of a film about Israeli soldiers at UC Irvine on Wednesday night, leading campus police to escort Jewish students away from the scene.
UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman responded Thursday with a campus-wide message saying the incident “crossed the line of civility.”
“While this university will protect freedom of speech, that right is not absolute … threats, harassment, incitement and defamatory speech are not protected. We must shelter everyone’s right to speak freely – without fear or intimidation – and allow events to proceed without disruption and potential danger,” Gillman wrote in the letter.
The administration is “investigating whether disciplinary or legal actions are appropriate,” Gillman wrote.
About a dozen students from UCI’s Students Supporting Israel met Wednesday night inside a classroom of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Gateway to view the Israeli film, “Beneath the Helmet.”
Outside, some 50 protesters gathered and began profanity-laced chants against Israel and UCI police, according to observers and video from the scene.
“They were screaming. They tried to push open the door, but we were holding the door from the inside,” said Katrin Gendova, the Israel group president, who said the attendees were mostly women and some felt intimated and trapped inside the room.
“They had a lawyer with them who said (they had) a right to come in,” Gendova said. “They were disrupting our event. This is not freedom of speech. It’s harassment.”
“Intifada for me is anti-Semitic,” Gendova said.
The UC Board of Regents recently adopted a statement of principles against intolerance, in response to reports of anti-Semitism at UC campuses.
Police were called and escorted the women to their cars, said Robert Petrosyan, chairman emeritus of UCI’s College Republicans, a group that had just finished a meeting and stumbled upon the protest.
“I found it egregious that they were creating a safety hazard by blocking the door,” Petrosyan said.
The film viewing was part of Israel Peace Week, also called UCIsrael week, and it follows an “anti-Zionism week” earlier this month sponsored by several groups, including the university’s Muslim Student Union.
Representatives for the protesters could not be reached Thursday.
In a Facebook post, UCI’s Students for Justice in Palestine wrote: “Today we successfully demonstrated against the presence of (Israeli) soldiers on campus. We condemn the Israeli “Defense” Forces, better defined as Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF), because they enforce Zionist settler colonialism and military occupation of Palestinian land by the Israeli nation-state…”
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