update deskSchools & Higher Education

Some 200 anti-Israel activists force evacuation of Berkeley event

“Berkeley has students who are Hamas supporters and who flagrantly call for the destruction of Jews. Why were campus police not empowered to control this violent mob?” said Masha Merkulova, of Club Z.

Anti-Israel protesters at the University of California, Berkeley, bang on glass doors before eventually breaking them on Feb. 26, 2024. Source: NBC Bay Area/YouTube.
Anti-Israel protesters at the University of California, Berkeley, bang on glass doors before eventually breaking them on Feb. 26, 2024. Source: NBC Bay Area/YouTube.

Some 200 people protested violently outside an event with a former Israel Defense Forces soldier at the University of California, Berkeley on Monday night, forcing Jewish students at the event to evacuate.

Anti-Israel students banged on doors and windows—breaking a glass door—and chanted “intifada, intifada” and accused the speaker Ran Bar-Yoshafat of committing genocide, The Daily Wire reported.

Bar-Yoshafat, who fought in Gaza with a special forces unit, told the publication that he was guilty until proven innocent to the protesters. “I don’t think this about the IDF, Jews or even Israel,” he said. “This is them lacking Western values like freedom of speech.”

Eventually, the event “Israel at War: Combat the Lies” had to be canceled.

“We want to express our deep remorse and sympathy to those students and members of the public who were in the building, fearing for their safety,” Berkeley’s chancellor, executive vice chancellor and provost wrote in a statement on Tuesday.

“Last night an event was scheduled featuring a speaker from Israel, who had been invited to campus by some of our student organizations. Minutes before the event was to start, a crowd of some 200 protesters began to surround the building,” they stated.

“Doors were broken open, and the protesters gained unauthorized entry to the building. The event was canceled, and the building was evacuated to protect the speaker and members of the audience,” they added. “The attack on the building, and on the event, was an attack on the fundamental values of the university, which are also essential to maintain and nurture open inquiry and an inclusive civil society, the bedrock of a genuinely democratic nation.”

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) called the incident “ridiculous.”

“No student should feel unsafe or be spit at, mobbed and threatened for any reason, but especially because they’re Jewish. Let’s call it what it is—antisemitism,” Scott wrote. “UC Berkeley, why didn’t you condemn this? Your silence is loud and disgusting, and we won’t forget.”

The incident “was a blatant violation of Title VI and civil rights and a threat to Jewish students’ safety at the hands of a racist mob,” stated Masha Merkulova, founder and executive director of Club Z.

“How can UC Berkeley stand by and allow this behavior to continue? Berkeley has students who are Hamas supporters and who flagrantly call for the destruction of Jews,” Merkulova added. “Why were campus police not empowered to control this violent mob? What has to happen for the administration to stand up and support their students’ rights and safety? Where is their commitment to diversity and promoting free speech?”

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