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Protesters shout down Israeli Professor at U. Minnesota law school

Protesters shout down Israeli Professor at U. Minnesota law school

Anti-War Committee and Students for Justice in Palestine disrupt speech by Professor Moshe Halbertal

[Featured Image via Fight Back News]

Moshe Halbertal is a law professor at New York University, and Professor of Jewish Thought and Philosophy, Hebrew University in Israel. He lectures widely on the ethics of war, particularly asymetric war of the type Israel faces.

Prof. Halbertal was scheduled to deliver a lecture on November 3 at the University of Minnesota Law School, Protecting Civilians: Moral Challenges of Asymmetric Warfare:

In advance of his appearance, The Anti-War Committee and Students for Justice in Palestine organized a protest against his appearance:

Univ Minnesota Moshe Halbertal Protest SJP Event Page

Fight Back News reports:

Over 50 supporters of Palestine shut down a Nov. 3 lecture by Hebrew University professor Moshe Halbertal, a co-author of the Israeli military code of ethics, entitled “Protecting Civilians: Moral Challenges of Asymmetric Warfare.” Organized by the MN Anti-War Committee and endorsed by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP UMN), the protesters prevented Halbertal from presenting his defense of IDF conduct in last summer’s Gaza War. Three of the protesters were arrested, as police tried to maintain what they called “decorum.” …

Speakers rose from the audience, one after another, making it impossible for Halbertal’s talk to proceed. Some 20 people intervened in the event, challenging Halbertal on Israeli war crimes in Gaza last summer, and the current violations of international law and human rights in the West Bank. Most ended their remarks with chants, such as “These are massacres, not mistakes! These are war crimes! Free, free Palestine!” and “Occupation is a crime, free, free Palestine!” Many in the audience joined in and some Palestine supporters were removed simply for showing visible support to the protesters. Observers were troubled to see police used disproportionate force in removing Palestinian and other Black and brown protesters.

The lecture was scheduled for one hour, but most of that time was taken up by interruptions. Even after being ejected from the lecture hall by campus police, the protesters continued to disrupt the event from the hallway, as Sabry Wazwaz, of the Anti-War Committee, led a rally which was audible from inside the auditorium for 30 more minutes.

Students for Justice in Palestine posted an approving link on its Facebook page, making clear that it viewed the disruption as part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement:

Leora Eisenberg, a high school student who wanted to attend the lecture, posted on Facebook:

So, you think BDS wants peace?

I was lost. I needed to get a lecture by noted Jewish-Israeli lecturer and philosopher Moshe Halbertal on the ethics of war. I had just come from school. I knew I’d be the youngest in the audience, and I was okay with that. I’ve always been precocious, especially for Israel.

I saw one lame protester in front of the building. So, one person showed up to protest the “apartheid regime.” Carry on. Protest. You have your rights.

As I came into the building, I heard some really loud chanting. I mean, really loud. And as a Russian-Israeli Jew, I know loud. I didn’t realize it was in front of the lecture hall. I couldn’t actually get in.

Because if I did, they would probably physically assault me. They championed their slogans of peace… right? (“Hey hey, ho ho, they occupation has got to go!”) But they also had at least three police officers standing in front of the doors and brandished (fake) blood-covered babies and made some vaguely anti-Semitic slurs. (all while holding signs proclaiming that Zionism is not Judaism)
I was afraid to go in. And when I finally could (through the secret back door), I was shaking too hard to focus. At one point, a BDS protester burst in, started screaming and was escorted back out by the cops– at which point, I heard the protesters drift off (and finally be taken outside).
So, you still think BDS wants peace?

Think again. I didn’t realize peaceniks make 17-year-olds girls scared to go to lectures on foreign policy. I didn’t realize peaceniks could be so violent.

She also posted video:

There are about one hundred people protesting a small lecture. I’m wearing israeli flag bracelets. And am scared.

Posted by Leora Noor Eisenberg on Tuesday, November 3, 2015

I was going to go to a Moshe Halbertal lecture, but I was actually afraid. There was a huge crowd in front of the door and I was really really scared.Here is some footage.

Posted by Leora Noor Eisenberg on Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Anti-War Committee tweeted photos, as did others:

We will have more information as it becomes available.

UPDATE: U. Minnesota Law Prof. Dale Carpenter, who writes at Volokh Conspiracy (Washington Post), was in attendance and gives this first hand account:

On Tuesday afternoon an Israeli academic was shouted down by two dozen protesters as he tried to begin a lecture before about 100 students and faculty at the University of Minnesota. The speaker was Moshe Halbertal, a professor at NYU Law School and a professor of Jewish thought and philosophy at Hebrew University. He was invited to deliver the Dewey Lecture in the Philosophy of Law, which is organized annually by the law school. That the freedom to present a lecture is threatened in this way at a public university is appalling, calling not only for punishment of violations but for a clear statement defending the free exchange of ideas.

The lecture, which I attended, was delayed half an hour as one by one the protesters stood up to shout denunciations of Israel and were escorted from the hall by university police. One young woman came screaming back into the lecture after having been ejected. Outside the hall, the protesters chanted so loudly that it was difficult to hear Halbertal, much less to concentrate on what he was saying, until 45 minutes after the lecture was to have begun….

When he was finally able to speak, Halbertal argued that in fighting “asymmetric wars” (typically, wars between professional militaries and insurgencies or resistance movements) professional combatants should err on the side of protecting noncombatants from casualties, even when they thereby increase risks to themselves or to their cause.

It was a careful and nuanced presentation, one that was far more dovish and human-rights oriented than caricatures of Halbertal as a “war crimes apologist” by protesters suggested. But the protesters had no interest in hearing the lecture or in allowing the audience to hear it. Halbertal told me that in all of his lectures on the subject of warfare, including at Columbia University, this was the first time he had been subjected to a disruptive demonstration.

The Dean of the Law School issued the following Statement (pdf):

Yesterday, the Law School hosted Professor Moshe Halbertal, a well known, widely respected expert on ethics and the law of war, for the annual Dewey Lecture on law and philosophy. Unfortunately, the start of Professor Halbertal’s lecture was delayed for over 30 minutes by protesters shouting slogans and denouncing the Law School for inviting a speaker whose views they chose to caricature but not to hear. While it is regrettable that the protesters (none, I believe, from the Law School) chose to deny themselves the opportunity to engage and learn from a speaker of Halbertal’s distinction, it is unacceptable that they should seek to deny other students and community members their own opportunity to hear an invited guest speak. Values of free speech and academic freedom are central to the University’s mission; we disregard them at our peril.

The protesters were eventually removed from the building by campus police, who handled the situation with great professionalism and restraint. After the lecture concluded, audience members, including some quite critical of Israel, had an opportunity to ask questions and engage Professor Halbertal in discussion. Ironically, the central theme of Professor Halbertal’s talk was that the military should be prepared to accept greater risks to its own forces in order to enhance protections for civilian non-combatants, not something one would expect to generate much protest.

But whether a speaker’s views are controversial is beside the point. As members of a University community, we should welcome—indeed, insist—on hearing a wide range of viewpoints, and we should condemn any efforts to silence free speech through protests of the sort that took place at the Law School yesterday. The Law School will continue to do both.

David Wippman
Dean & William S. Pattee Professor of Law
University of Minnesota Law School


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Seeing these photos, one is reminded why the first swift kick in the ass was invented.

Meanwhile the stabbing craze may have made it to New York.

quiksilverz24 | November 4, 2015 at 1:29 am

If she’s truly under arrest, why is she still holding onto her messenger bag? Makes no sense why she would be allowed to hold onto a bag.

    TX-rifraph in reply to quiksilverz24. | November 4, 2015 at 4:09 am

    I suggest the answer is the cameras. Remember, UMPD are armed evil local cops whom the MSM would love to destroy. She was separated from her stuff before being transported for booking I am sure.

These “protesters” were out of uniform — I did not see them wearing their brown shirts. BDS (under whatever fringe Orwellian name) appears to draw sociopaths like a porch light does moths.

The plus side is that some younger people were able to experience some totalitarians in person. They got to feel the hate and violence (or threats of) of these future Democrat party candidates.

Not that I have any faith in the justice department but if they were not letting him execise his 1st amendmant rights because of his ethnic affiliations, how is that legal?

Each of those protesters who disrupted the lecture should be expelled. Those who were not students, should be arrested and charged with criminal trespass and malicious mischief. There needs to be heavy punishment for disrupting an invited guest’s free speech rights.

Empress Trudy | November 4, 2015 at 9:23 am

And that stupid white girl with the red stabber scarf will be the first one to scream and pout when she can’t get a job because of her arrest record. Deport her to Gaza.

Maybe have those who truly want to attend and listen apply for admission and be added to a guest list. Then do a quick security check on the guests beforehand, and check IDs at the door. Divert the stabber scarves and flaggers to watch a skype video of the talk in a different room. This is all so common, now.

I don’t cry for Moshe Halbertal. He advocates for the so-called “Purity of Arms” doctrine wherein Israel soldiers are put at risk from the Muslim squatters the professor dishonestly calls “civilians.” This is an immoral doctrine that the US doesn’t follow (yet). Of course, the doctrine is also against Jewish law (Halacha), which makes this “Professor of Jewish Thought and Philosophy” nothing of the kind.

They’re spoiled, self-important brats who don’t have anything to worry about. Yes, at their age they should be exploring their identities, but they obviously have too much time and money on their hands. Let them fend for themselves for a few months, and a new lack of privilege will change their tune.

To paraphrase one blogger,
Had those Pseudo-Palestinians not been liberated from the yoke of the Jordanian conquest, they, in all likelihood would have been downtrodden, impoverished, uneducated, and perhaps would have found themselves decapitated as well –Al Qaeda and ISIS-style. Pals don’t have to like it, but listen sweethearts: Your lives under Israel’s “occupation” is better than it would be under any other regime in the Middle East.

In Syria, you’d be slaughtered in battle, through bombings or poison gas.

In Lebanon, you’d be drafted into Hezbollah and killed in its service or oppressed/killed in a civil war.

In Iraq, your head would be chopped off. In Yemen, you’d be shot in the street.

In Egypt, you’d be violently liquidated by the police, the Salafists or the Moslem Brotherhood. Apparently, even if you lived in Jordan (you certainly wouldn’t want to live in any other country I mentioned) you’d be dirt poor and uneducated. Perhaps you’d be living in the Cairo cemetery in Egypt, in a mud hut in Northern Jordan, or in a destroyed refugee camp outside Damascus

Your dignity would be crushed, your rights trampled, yet – without a doubt – you would be “independent” and “not occupied”. How lucky for you! After all, what does it matter if someone chops off your head, humiliates your wife, steals your money, or forces you to live a certain way? The main thing is that you are living under an “independent-Arab” regime, and not – G-d forbid – under the rule of

Remember all the above before partaking on your next beastly stabbing and hit and run
attacks against little old ladies and ultra orthodox defenseless old men tomorrow and the day after and the……

Are they Hitler Youth OR Mohammad Youth, hell-bent on completing the Final Solution?

From the pictures, they look like rich kids, full of hate from not really understanding what is going on over there. The Arab-Palistineans were supposed to go to the area between Jordan & Iran. ( After WWII ) They refused. Israel since, has tried to give them some land & help them get started Economically. Instead, they brought in Hamas, and constantly fire Rockets into Israel & dig tunnels to attack civilians. They don’t want peace. They teach their children to ” Kill all Jews.” You can’t make peace with someone who wants you DEAD. How would you feel if you lived in NYC and Some group fired 200 Rockets into your city every week ?

These people need to pick up and move to the ME and demonstrate their devotion. Let them live without access to showers and Starbucks but support the cause. We’ll see how much they believe then.

They are self-aggrandizing, intellectually-challenged and factually ignorant fascists. There is nothing admirable or noble in their acts of “protest,” which are nothing more than thuggish attempts at silencing free speech and intimidating people from expressing viewpoints that are perceived to be at variance with their own. I write “perceived,” because these infantile dopes didn’t even bother to listen to what the Professor had to say! Nor did these fools event contemplate engaging him in civil debate and discussion, you know, the way an adult might attempt to do with a person with whom one disagrees? Dean Wippman’s response to the disruption was well-written and expressed my personal view’s on this type of “heckler’s veto,” quite well.