Written by Gail Rubin SWU Davis Chapter
Despite hostile hecklers, protestors, and angry students shouting "rapists" "child molesters" and "liars", the two Israeli reservists brought by StandWithUs as part of its Israeli Soldiers Stories told their stories and handled themselves with dignity. Ran, the 28 year-old IDF reservist, and Ranya, the 20-something Druze woman, spoke from the heart about their lives in Israel and how they wish for peace. While the protestors represented the true face of Israel-haters, Ran and Ranya represented the heart of Israel. This event was co-sponsored by the UC Davis Chabad student club "Chai.” What the group lacks in numbers is made up by their courage and convictions, that the story of the Jewish people and the mitzvah of defending Israel remain paramount. As fear of physical altercations mounted, several "911" calls were made. The campus police appeared but refused to remove, reprimand or otherwise take any action against the disrupters. The police stated they were given "orders" not to take action against the disrupters, but instead, to close down the program if it got out of hand. What happened to our first amendment rights of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, and the University of California's "principles of community" to ensure a "hate-free" campus?
The program continued, punctuated by slanderous and heinous bellowing from members of the audience. In all, at various times, there were approximately 150 in attendance. There were some 20 or so hecklers that would act as the cheerleaders who would cause the others to erupt with hoots and howls during the presentation. One protesting student was heard shouting out that the star of David worn by our StandWithUs campus professional , Matthew White, was a Nazi symbol. At another juncture, the Chabad Rebbetzin, Sorele Brownstein, despite being very pregnant, got up to speak in front of this hostile audience to defend the Jewish people. Even she was jeered at. The behavior of the disrupters was quite despicable.
The ringleader was a self-identified Indian who was extremely hostile, shouting that he was there to shut down the event, and begging to be arrested. After the event, this Indian young man approached Ran and Ranya, our speakers, and apologized to them for his behavior, and said he was paid $50 to disrupt the event. Apparently, the same Indian heckler told others in the audience that he was paid $50 to disrupt and shut down the talk.
When the program ended, a few Arabic-speaking girls approached Ranya, and apologized to her for the bad behavior of the others. Ran also recounted that at the end one Muslim student thanked him for coming and that he felt he learned some things he had never heard before.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 11 A.M. at the State Capitol
The Capitol Knesset Club, which formed last year as an interest group to address issues confronting the Jewish community and Israel, helped SWU bring Ran and Ranya to the the California Capitol. What a breath of fresh air after the previous evening's event at UC Davis. We were warmly received by several members of the State Legislature, including Speaker of the Assembly John Perez. Also, Assembly Member Linda Halderman, M.D. gave our Israeli guests a warm welcome and explained her personal family connection to Israel. About 40 to 50 people were in the audience. Ran and Ranya were then given a tour of the State Capitol, including an inside look into the Senate floor.
The leader of the Capitol Knesset Club, Ryan Pessah, said he received numerous emails raving about the Israeli Soldiers program. 50 people were in the audience. Ran and Ranya were then given a tour of the State Capitol, including an inside look into the Senate floor.
The leader of the Capitol Knesset Club, Ryan Pessah, said he received numerous emails raving about the Israeli Soldiers program.