Mayor Barkat’s visit was planned. University administrators expected both him and the disruptors, who reliably attend all Israeli speaking events here. The university police were sent in. But, in a decision that should deeply disturb all who value a civil society, and one that I as a Jew find profoundly demoralizing, the police were instructed not to remove the disruptors and instead to stand by and watch the event be completely shut down.
Please let that sink in. Public university administrators and police stood and watched as the Mayor of Jerusalem, the Jewish student organization that sponsored him, and all of us in attendance, were permanently bullied off the stage. Officers with guns, and the power that comes from the barrels of those guns, were instructed to stand, watch, and do nothing, as freedom of speech was replaced with a policy of whoever shouts the loudest wins, at least when it comes to shouting down a visiting Israeli dignitary. Those whom we thought were there to protect us and restore order, stood, watched, and did nothing.
The administrators’ and police’s high profile inaction emboldened the mob, which consequently grew louder and more brazen. We waited and waited for the disruptors to be removed so the event could proceed, but it never happened. Eventually, Mayor Barkat asked us to huddle around him so he could speak to us over the mob’s chants, but it was a lost cause.
“Get the fuck off our campus, get the fuck off our campus,” the mob yelled at us with bullhorns, indoors, over and over. “Get the fuck off our campus.”
Aaron concludes: As a Jewish San Franciscan, I was profoundly shaken by the experience. I was prepared for the anti-Israel movement to be there. They’ve grown chillingly disciplined in recent years. I expected them to be given a space outside the event to yell hateful rhetoric and engage in theatrics. I was prepared for the likelihood of having to pass them on the way in, threatening me, calling me anti-Semitic epithets, because it’s how they roll. What I didn’t expect was for them to be given the power by the university to control who speaks and who does not. I left shaken to my core.