Anti-Israel students target UT-Austin Israeli Studies prof after disrupting his speech
Palestine Solidarity Committee launches campaign against Prof. Ami Pedahzur.
- New Video supports UT-Austin Israeli Studies Prof. after confrontion by protesters
- Did UT-Austin students who disrupted Israel Studies event violate campus code?
- UT-Austin anti-Israel student leader called for “support” of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PFLP
The intimidation of Israeli and pro-Israeli speakers on campuses continues unabated.
We recently covered the disruption of a speech by an Israeli professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, and of an Israeli diplomat at the University of Windsor.
It just happened again at UT-Austin on November 13, 2015, but the video has just been posted. Twelve members of the Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) disrupted a public event hosted by Professor Ami Pedahzur of UT’s Institute for Israeli Studies titled “The Origin of a Species: The Birth of the Israeli Defense Forces’ Military Culture.” The invited guest speaker was Dr. Gil-Li Vardi from Stanford University.
The protesters and the anti-Israel propaganda machine including the national Students for Justice in Palestine are trying to turn the perpetrators into victims, with a video release being shared on Facebook and YouTube. The students not only disrupted the speech, when Prof. Pedahzur and another person (not clear if a professor or just a member of the audience) tried to get them to stop, they increased the volume of their chants calling for the destruction of Israel and “Long Live the Intifada”.
This video was prepared by the anti-Israel group to try to present them as the victim. The person grabbing the flag is NOT Prof. Pedahzur:
This is beginning to look like the intimidation tactics that were used against Prof. Andrew Pessin at Connecticut College.
The UT Palestinian Solidarity Committee is trying to get students to file complaints against Prof. Pedahzur:
National SJP is spreading the word:
Make no mistake, the end game of the protesters is to get Prof. Pedahzur fired, as this tweet from UT student Sirat Al-Nahi indicates:
Prof. Pedahzur issued the following statement and updates on his website (font sizing and coloring in original):
Dear Friends and colleagues,
I never thought that I would find myself writing this letter. In fact, I never imagined that my academic research on terrorism and my administrative role as the Director of the Institute for Israel Studies would coincide in such a chilling way.
Less than forty eight hours after the horrific attacks in Paris, I feel that it is my responsibility to ask you to join me in an attempt to confront the radicalization process on campuses and to protect students staff and faculty members from intimidation and violence.
On Friday, November the 13th, 2015, our institute hosted Dr. Gil-Li Vardi from Stanford University who kindly accepted our invitation to present her thought provoking study on ‘The Birth of the Israeli Defense Forces Military Culture’.
As any scholar and student of Israel knows, or should know Israeli scholars in the humanities and the social sciences are known for their innovative, critical and thought provoking works. Since the formation of our Institute we committed to cultivate this exact type of atmosphere.
We are very proud of the outstanding scholars who visited us and taught for us over the years. Moreover, we are committed to supporting students who come to UT to learn Arabic, one of Israel’s two formal languages, in the successful Summer Institute that our colleagues Dr. Kristen Brustad and Dr. Mahmoud Al-Batal established. We hope that in the future we will be able to invite students from the Arab World to study Hebrew in the same way.
Additionally, we are working closely with Palestinian scholars in developing joint research and teaching initiatives.
On a more personal level, over the last 11 years I was teaching courses on terrorism and Israel. I have always been gratified by the fact that Arab and Muslim students took my classes and very often were among the most engaged and enthusiastic students.
Throughout the years, I never had a single incident in which a student of any faith or background expressed dissatisfaction with the contents of the courses or with the classroom’s climate.
Thus, the events of the last 48 hours have been very disheartening. When I first saw a group of young men and women all wearing keffiyehsentering the seminar room and taking seats, I was delighted.
None of our numerous events have ever been interrupted. I had no reason to assume that the members of this particular group did not come to listen to the speaker and engage in an academic conversation.
Naively, I felt that we were finally achieving our goal of turning UT into a beacon of pluralistic and open debate about these contentious issues.
Little did I know.
This event required RSVPs so we could order a sufficient number of box lunches. Although these attendees did not RSVP, I invited them to eat and make themselves comfortable.
As soon as I introduced the speaker the whole group stood up as one and formed a human wall at the back of the room.
Many of them pulled out their cell phones and started recording and taking pictures.
Then their leader, who I later learned is a UT Law student named Mohammed Nabulsi, attempted to hijack the event.
It is important to pause here for a second and underscore the fact that Mr. Nabulsi’s online name is Georges Abdallah, of the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Factions who murdered American Lieutenant Colonel Charles R. Ray, and Israeli diplomat Yaakov Bar-Simantov in Paris, France in the summer of 1982.
After some more research we learned the Nabulsi was not the only member of the group who assumed the identity of a murderer online. For example Mr. Patrick Higgins, a former student in my graduate seminar, who recently completed his MA in Middle East Studies, refers to himself as Edward Despard a British officer of Irish descent, who radicalized, joined the Irish rebellion and plotted to assassinate King George III.
Back to Friday’s events. Nabulsi began to read his message, while his friends stood behind him holding the Palestinian Flag. His act was disruptive and offensive.
Among many other things, he claimed that he knew everything about our speaker and referred to her as war criminal due to her service in the IDF.
At that point, I still believed that I could convince Mr. Nabulsi to calm down and engage in a constructive discussion.
However, neither he nor his followers, showed any interest in talking to us. Rather, they argued that they refuse to talk to Israelis who are all war criminals.
Mr. Nabulsi’s followers seemed very agitated and started yelling ‘Free Palestine’ and ‘Long live the Intifada’. We were left with no alternative but to call UTPD.
Meanwhile, I kept on telling them that based on their comments, they seem to know nothing about the history and politics of Israel and Palestine and I pleaded with them to stay and listen. I stood in front of Mr. Nabulsi in an attempt to make him shout directly at my face.
I didn’t touch Nabulsi. Quite the contrary, his followers who surrounded him started pushing me around. A minute or two later they suddenly left.
I was asked by a police officer to describe the events and also asked if I wanted to press charges. I believed that students should enjoy the freedom to learn and shape their views. Hence, I declined. Rather, I asked the officer to invite the protesters back as I was interested in opening a channel of communication with them.
(Update: On Saturday, after learning that these individuals use the names of known terrorists online, we pressed charges. On that day someone using unknown number left a threatening message on our voicemail).
Later that evening, as the news from Paris was arriving, I received several emails indicating that the group had executed a carefully planned media campaign.
Ignoring the horrific news from France, they launched a social media blitz that was a complete lie.
Mr. Nabulsi, for example, wrote an inciting and self-serving message.
Using a heavily edited picture in which we are facing each other, he described himself as the victim and me as the aggressor.
He probably didn’t stop for a second to look closely at the picture. While I seem very calm his expression is extremely aggressive and hateful.
He also failed to mention that we were surrounded by his followers who were pushing me back.
Moreover, he promised to release a video that according to his argument would prove that I escalated the situation. I assume that in order to release such a video the group needs to dedicate many hours to careful doctoring.
(Update: On Sunday, after 48 hours of editing, they released a heavily doctored video with slides that offer false description of the event. The actual footage discredits their narrative completely.)
Initially, I thought that the members of the group had a genuine interest in human rights and justice. Gradually, I realized that they are part of a group who have a long history of launching manipulative campaigns that aim at intimidating and terrorizing those who they perceive as their enemies.
What I saw was a tight group of young men and women who follow a charismatic leader who admire a notorious murderer. After spending two decades of learning how people turn to terrorism, I fear that what I witnessed on Friday should raise many red flags.
(Update: On Sunday night, after learning that their terrorist pseudonyms were unveiled, the facebook accounts went offline)
I believe in the First Amendment and in full academic freedom. However, neither the law nor its moral foundation protects coercion or direct attempts to impede freedom of speech and academic discourse.
We cannot let such individuals terrorize us.
I appeal to my friends and colleagues as well as to students and individuals who believe in freedom to stand up and counter this campaign of terror and intimidation.
Here is the Facebook post of “Georges Abdallah” which Prof. Pedahzur asserts is the online name of Mohammed Nabulsi. We cannot independently verify or not verify that. The post has been deleted, as has the account, but it was still in Google Cache for the Boycott Israel group:
Mohammed Nabulsi apparently is a law student at UT-Austin, and the driving force behind a failed anti-Israel divestment resolution last semester. Here he is at a UT-Divest forum via the UT Divest website (last person on right of photo):
And, via The Daily Texan, featured in an article about the defeat of the divestment resolution (upper right):
Here he is a counter-protest organized against an Israel Block Party event in March 2015:
And leading a protest claiming racism and Islamophobia regarding “clock boy” Ahmed Mohamed:
These are the people the anti-Israel students want contacted to complain about Prof. Pedahzur. You can contact them too and tell them to defend Prof. Pedahzur and not to give into the students who disrupted his speech:
Dean of Students:
Dean of the College of Liberal Arts:
Chair of Department of Government
You can also file a report with our Campus Climate Response Team here:
This post has been updated multiple times during the day, MORE UPDATES BELOW:
The Dean of the UT College of Liberal Arts has issued the following statement:
The University of Texas at Austin strives to be a campus where people with different viewpoints can debate issues —including the Israeli – Palestinian conflict — openly and respectfully.
Our Institute for Israel Studies has always strived to do that and, on Friday, invited an esteemed scholar to deliver remarks and engage in critical debate.
The university has existing protocols for protesters to voice their points of view and be heard effectively. We are trying to determine if they were followed in this case.
Responding to a call from the event, University Police spoke with all the parties involved on Friday. My office will do the same. We are gathering more information and looking for ways to improve the constructive dialogue on campus.
— Randy Diehl, Dean, College of Liberal Arts
The anti-Israel Electronic Intifada reports that the goal of law student Mohammed Nabulsi it to get Professor Pedahzur fired:
Nabulsi said that his group wants the university to fully investigate the incident, and that “We believe it should result in the dismissal of Ami Pedahzur as a professor at our university.”
The Palestine Solidarity Committee is continuing its efforts to get people to file complaints with the university against Pedahzur:
There appears to be a growing push back against this obvious set-up by anti-Israel groups and students targeting Prof. Pedahzur.
I just received a copy of a letter signed by over 100 UT-Austin students, and sent to three senior academic officials including Dean of the College of Liberal Arts Randy Diehl, Chair of the Government Department Robert Moser, and the Dean of Students Soncia Reagins-Lilly [a similar statement is now on the Facebook page of Unify Texas]:
We write to you in support of Ami Pedahzur, a professor in the Department of Government. Professor Pedahzur has been the victim of a national campaign against his and professor Gil-li Vardi’s right to academic freedom.
Many of us have never taken a class with Professor Pedahzur – but his keen understanding of freedom of speech, his diplomacy in the face of anger and intimidation, and his raw intellect make us wish we had. Faced with a disruption of an academic event, with students chanting and screaming “We want ‘48, not your two states,” and “long live the intifada,” Professor Pedahzur comported himself with dignity, something which many others would have had difficulty doing when faced with an emotional confrontation referencing calls for violence.
It often seems that some individuals and organizations on our campus believe that their freedom of speech is so absolute that it allows them to deny others that same right. We ask that you recognize this campaign against Professor Pedahzur as what it is – a stunt, to garner publicity for their organization at the expense of a dedicated professor.
A telling portion of the video comes from UT Law Student Mohammed Nabulsi, a leader in the Palestine Solidarity Committee, who shouted at the guest lecturer, “You are a former IDF soldier. We do not listen to you.” This is clearly indicative of this organization and its motives. They silence all other voices in order to feed their own self-serving narrative.
In the coming days, our guess is that your office will receive many demands to punish him. We urge that you do not. We urge that you stand against those organizations on our campus which seek to provoke a response through intimidation – all so that they may take the response out of context. Standing with Professor Pedahzur is the necessary decision, and one I hope your department will make.
This is shaping up as a fight that appears to have been brewing after Palestine Solidarity Committee led by Mohammed Nabulsi lost the divestment vote last spring. We will continue to report on this.
Apparently, PSC is encouraging people to complain to a wider list of UT-Austin officials in order to get Prof. Pedahzur fired. Here is the full list, if you want to express your support for Prof. Pedahzur:
Randy Diehl, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts – [email protected]
Robert Moser, Chair of Department of Government – [email protected]
Soncia Reagins-Lilly, Dean of Students – [email protected]
Gage Paine, VP Student Affairs – [email protected]
Gregory Vincent, VP Diversity and Community Engagement – [email protected]
Patricia C. Ohlendorf, VP Legal Affairs – [email protected]
Gregory L. Fenves, President – [email protected]
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.
Just once, I would like to see some audience members grab the ones causing the disturbance and simply kick the ever-loving excrement out of them, be they male or female.
And then the video goes viral. This is what they hope, to prove they are being “oppressed.”
Of course, if nobody oppresses them, they will just lie, so maybe it would be worthwhile, just once.
*Since I got forced to upgrade my OS, I have noticed that a whole, new slew of errors are cropping up in the spellchecker. These involved a failure to register a space, followed by a truly miserable substitution of another word in place of the two words that had been typed.
Spellcheck should be turned off for all law-related sites. It does not reduce the number of errors, it increases them.
In the interim, I would appreciate an edit button.
I think the vast majority of people stand with Israel and a good ass-kicking would be accepted and applauded. People are simply getting tired of these cretins interrupting events. It needs to stop. Speakers should not be forced to stop – the protesters should be forced to stop and ejected from the event by any force necessary.
“…we’re doing an intervention…”
Their premise is that they can unilaterally impose themselves upon others. In *principle*, this is simply common criminality.
Instantly as they entered the room, they should have been fully met on their own premises, completely extended out to conclusive logic at being forcefully and bodily removed, to include everything necessary to effecting that.
If it meant a trail of *blood*, then so be it.
Thuggery must be put down. This is not a “free speech” matter.
They are like the people who used to loudly claim to fear the 2am knock on the door from Bushitler’s Gestapo, secure in the knowledge that it was never going to happen. Let their fellows fear that they might actually be beaten up for pulling these stunts, and they will be a lot less willing to risk it.
Thank you, Milhouse. And as for their being oppressed: it is about time they WERE “oppressed”.
LET the video go viral. LET them scream. If enough of them get their just desserts often enough, they will find that not everyone they go after will shy away and expose their bellies in surrender.
One of these days, someone is going to use one of their scarves as a garrote.
Who, what, when, where, how, why.
We need the names of the “students” involved, as well as their adult sponsors. Mohammed Nabulsi, a person who pretends online to be a murderer, is not the only person involved.
If there is a member of the UT staff, or the staff of some other university involved in this intolerable behavior, that person needs to be exposed.
We found out with ACORN and OWS the Ferguson rioters that there is a lot of overlap among the organizers. BDS is very likely much the same.
“Initially, I thought that the members of the [Muslin, Palestinian] group had a genuine interest in human rights and justice.”
Man o man, what does it take for some people to learn the nature of Islam and what it does to and demands from its followers?
The people of Paris have recently learned some of these lessons. And the Muslims will continue their lesson-giving. 9/11, 2004 Madrid, 2005 London, 2008 Mumbai, 2013 Kenya’s Westgate Mall, multiple wars on Israel, again and again all provoked by Muslims, and on and on.
Life’s a tough teacher. She’s gives the test first, then the lesson.
I have a good way to solve all this……cooked cabbage and milk, eaten a couple hours ahead of the speech. I don’t think that even the toughest SJP wannabe could stand the offal that I could offer!
What is wrong with this Prof Pedahtzur that he wasn’t aware of all this long before it happened to him? I know nothing of his history, but his writing sounds like the typical Israeli leftist academic, who imagines that his equivocation on the morality of Israel’s cause is matched on the other side, and that his gestures of friendship to the enemy will win him some sort of credit with them.
Don’t just film them.
Beat them with sticks.
Despicable, disrespectful behavior. How anyone could be outraged with the teacher is beyond me. At my son’s college SJP had an anti Israel speaker and the Jewish students who didn’t agree with the speaker’s view came, sat quietly and listened and then asked thoughtful intelligent questions. Nothing was heated or argumentative, they were willing to hear a different viewpoint because that is how one grows, it’s also the Jewish way. They were able to express their views because they did so in an appropriate and respectful way. These pro Palestinian kids need to grow up, learn some manners and open their eyes. If the school does not stand up for the professor something is wrong with that school. The big difference is between being filled with such hate that it poisons you to the point of loosing all ability to even conduct yourself in a way to get respect. Nothing will change until they replace hate with hope, and ignorance with education. The blind followers are lost souls who just need a cause. You are not a social justice warrior is your fighting for blind hate.
Professor Jacobson, remember, Snehal Shingavi is a professor at the University of Texas Austin.
35 years ago – I attended a talk by CIA Chief Bill Colby in the same auditorium in the same building. The ‘Revolutionary Student Brigade’ showed up in their red berets to shout down the speaker. I stood up in the audience and told them they were disrupting my right to hear the speakers and to get out. And, I was almost thrown out for my trouble.
Looks like the red berets have been replaced with checkered shaws.
Israel faces Pallywood producers daily. They manipulate footage and create stories that paint the true aggressors as the perennial innocent victims. Then they use those stories to target the “bullies” who attacked them. Those who are naive and well-meaning buy into the skewed narrative, take up the flag for justice and continue to spread the distorted narrative. Objectivity and reason are lost…
I think the photos and names of the disruptive individualsshould be submitted here for the benefit of potential employees and landlords.
and I forwarded the video to their contact page to make that happen. “Soldier of Allah” Nidal Hasan was yesterday’s headline, and somebody who shouts “Long live the intifada” sounds like tomorrow’s headline.
Note also that posting a doctored video that creates the false appearance that Dr. Pedahzur is being disruptive could conceivably be libelous, and he ought to talk to a lawyer about that.