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Jews called ‘Zionist pigs’ at Berkeley council meeting

The antisemitic protesters also “repeatedly heckled” an 89-year-old Holocaust survivor, according to the Jewish Community Relations Council.

Students hold up anti-Israel signs and Palestinian flags at an anti-Israel protest in front of Sproul Hall at the University of California, Berkeley, on Oct. 25, 2023. Credit: Kefr4000 via Wikimedia Commons.
Students hold up anti-Israel signs and Palestinian flags at an anti-Israel protest in front of Sproul Hall at the University of California, Berkeley, on Oct. 25, 2023. Credit: Kefr4000 via Wikimedia Commons.

Anti-Israel activists disrupted a Berkeley, Calif. City council meeting last week, yelling antisemitic slurs and “repeatedly” heckling an 89-year-old Holocaust survivor, per the Jewish Community Relations Council Bay Area.

“The agenda of the meeting included an item on marking Holocaust Remembrance Day and funding educational programs around this commemoration. There was nothing on the meeting agenda about the Israel-Hamas war,” the JCRC stated.

“Demonstrators called Jews ‘Zionist pigs,’ intimidated a Holocaust survivor, stole and threw a Jewish man’s phone toward the dais and implied city council members were being bought by the Jewish community,” the JCRC added.

It warned that video footage it shared of the meeting contained explicit language.

At one point during the meeting, a woman yelled, “You’re traitors to this country,” “You’re spies for Israel” and “genocide enabler.” Another, who wore a keffiyeh, said, “You’re all racist Zionists.”

“Susanne DeWitt, an 89 year-old Holocaust survivor who was arrested and sent to Dachau Concentration Camp at age four, was repeatedly heckled by demonstrators as she spoke in favor of the City of Berkeley’s Holocaust Remembrance Day proclamation,” the JCRC stated.

“A demonstrator laughed when a Jewish parent talked about an antisemitic incident at her child’s elementary school,” it added. “Berkeley Unified School District is currently under federal investigation after numerous allegations of antisemitism across its campuses.”

Susan Wengraf, a member of the city council, said that “our meetings have been horrendous since October” and “extremely difficult,” the J. The Jewish News of Northern California reported.

The paper added that some 10 pro-Israel activists and 30 anti-Israel ones attended the meeting.

“I am outraged over the hateful and deeply antisemitic behavior we saw at Tuesday’s council meeting,” stated Jesse Arreguín, Berkeley’s 39-year-old mayor. “Heckling people including Holocaust survivors, then co-opting its message for an anti-Jewish agenda, threats and hate speech will not be tolerated. We will not be intimidated.” (The JCRC thanked him.)

“Heckling a Holocaust survivor is bad enough, but these antisemitic, Holocaust denying, Hamas supporting, city business-disrupting protestors who are assailing people are evil and need to be condemned as such,” stated the Democratic Majority for Israel, an advocacy group in Washington. “Public officials should unite in condemning their outrageous behavior.”

“This is vile. This isn’t opposition to the actions of Israel’s government. This is explicit antisemitism. At a city council meeting. In California. In 2024,” wrote Jeremy Burton, CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston.

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