Pro-Palestinian students at the University of Virginia (UVA) disrupted a panel discussion of Israeli Defense Forces lone reservists visiting the campus several days ago, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
The event on Thursday was organized by the local Brody Jewish Center Hillel, which invited the veterans – who are from Reservists on Duty, an anti-BDS group comprised of IDF reservists in Israel – to share their personal stories and talk about Israeli society.
During the panel discussion, protesters erupted into the room surrounding the speakers, shouting: “Fight the power, turn the tide, end Israeli apartheid” on a megaphone and holding up anti-Israel signs and Palestinian flags, as can be seen in a video obtained by the Post.
Hillel representatives invited the protesters to sit down to ask questions and engage in a dialogue, but the lead protester can be heard saying: “No dialogue with racists.”
Campus police arrived on the scene to disperse the protesters and the panel discussion continued as scheduled.
“While free speech and the ability to protest are important aspects of college life, we are disappointed that protesters refused to engage in conversation and instead continued to shout intimidating and hostile slurs directed at students, staff, and panelists,” the Hillel group said in a statement on its Facebook page.
“Since last night, we have been in touch with University leadership and Hillel International to discuss the incident and determine how best to prevent this type of disruption in the future,” they wrote.
Amit Deri, CEO of Reservists on Duty, told the Post
that the incident at UVA “proves unequivocally that, as in all cases, anti-Israel activists are a violent group whose goal is to intimidate and silence Jewish students and the pro-Israel voice on campus.”
He added: “The days when this would pass silently are over.”
The IDF veterans visiting UVA are one of three Reservists on Duty delegations touring university campuses in the US and the UK. The delegations are collaborating with local Jewish and pro-Israel student groups in an effort to counter Apartheid Week events being held on campuses by pro-Palestinian students.
Among the groups touring the US, includes a delegation comprised of Christian, Muslim, Beduin, and Druse IDF and National Service veterans representing different sectors and perspectives of Israel society.
“Our activists bring with them the necessary tools needed to dismantle the claims and lies that are disseminated about the IDF and the State of Israel,” Deri said. “They served in the IDF and live the reality in Israel and they all undergo a year’s training before they leave for delegations.”
He added: “For example, when anti-Israel activists hold a ‘dummy checkpoint’ of the IDF and tell lies to all the spectators, there is nothing better than having a group of Israelis who will tell the students the truth.”
In the coming weeks, a dozen more delegations of IDF reservists are expected to tour campuses throughout the US, sharing their personal stories and countering the campaign of delegitimization against Israel.