Two young Israelis, Ranya Fadel and Ran Bar-Yoshafat are touring American campuses as part of Israeli Soldiers’ Stories. The tour is sponsored by StandWithUs, an international Israel education organization. On Monday, Feb 27, they were scheduled to speak at UC Davis in an event co-sponsored by Chai Life-Club.
Ranya belongs to Israel’s Druze minority community. Her father and brother have both served in the Israeli military. She has a diploma in biotechnology and a bachelor’s degree in political sciences at Bar Ilan University. She begins her talk apologizing for her English- reminding people that its her third language, after Arabic and Hebrew . Bar-Yoshafat is a Jewish Israeli and is the grandchild of Holocaust survivors. He is the former Israeli national champion for mixed martial arts (1999-2000) and is a lawyer in the Kenneset.
The young Israelis were here not as representatives of their government, but rather to put a human face on the conflict that too often is ignored.
What happened to them at UC Davis was a disgrace and an embarrassment. Two young people, visitors from far way were subject to a display from Davis students and community members that has no place on a college campus, where above all else, free speech and open discourse should be cherished. The repugnant behavior of anti-Israel students organizations and anti-Israel community organizations, and the deliberate negilence of the UC Davis campus police to maintain order was deeply disturbing and needs to be addressed
From a local blogger
1. The plan of the anti-Israel bashers was twofold:
*to arrive early and fill the room to capacity allowing no other people to enter–and then at a predetermined point to get up and walk out, leaving an empty classroom with no one to listen to the speakers
*and if they were unable to carry out the above plan, to continuously heckle the speakers making their presentation impossible
2. In regard to the first part of the anti-Israel plan, the pro-Israel organizers of the event changed the room at the last minute which forced the anti-Israel forces to show up after many others had already arrived to take their seats.
3. In regard to the second part of the anti-Israel plan, the main heckler, a student from India, indicated after the program had concluded that he was paid $50 by “Muslim students” to heckle so loudly that the program would not be able to continue.
4. A pre-program meeting of the “pro-Palestinian” students took place in the campus classroom in which the program was originally scheduled to take place. In that meeting, there were approximately 100 “pro-Palestinian supporters” including not only UCD students led by Students for Justice in Palestine, but also representatives of the Davis Peace Coalition, the Jewish Voice for Peace, the Davis Committee for Palestinian Rights, American Muslims for Palestine, and the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) movement.
Ran and Ranya were exquisite, exhibiting tremendous grace under pressure. Never once loosing focus, they stressed to the students they were at Davis to talk. They spoke about their lives in Israel- lives very similar to those of American young people. They watched Seinfeld and Friends. They went to the beach. They went shopping with their friends. But all that changed during the second intifada. They spoke of the bus bombings and the assaults on Israeli civilians. They spoke of the friends they lost. Ranya showed a memorial- "This victim was Muslim. This victim was Druze. This victim was Jewish" Her message was clear- terror affects everyone. Ran showed us a list of his friends who had died- there were nearly 20 names on it. He carries the list so he never forgets.
UC Davis police, summoned to the event because of the disruptions refused to do anything. They refused to remove hecklers and do anything to ensure that the rights of the speakers were protected
Tuesday evening, Ran and Ranya spoke at UC Berkeley. A rapt, respectful audience listen to their every word, and politely questioned them after.
UC Davis should be ashamed. Let them know here.