Israeli professor shouted down at University of Minnesota

Two dozen protesters delay Moshe Halbertal’s lecture, chanting pro-Palestinian slogans

Professor Moshe Halbertal (photo credit: CC-BY-Tzahy Lerner, Wikimedia Commons)
Professor Moshe Halbertal (photo credit: CC-BY-Tzahy Lerner, Wikimedia Commons)

A prominent Hebrew University professor was shouted down by two dozen protesters at the beginning of a lecture at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

The protesters delayed the speech by Moshe Halbertal, a member of the New York University Law School faculty, for 30 minutes on Tuesday afternoon, the Washington Post reported.

Halbertal, who co-authored the Israel Defense Forces’ most recent code of ethics, had been scheduled to deliver the University of Minnesota’s annual Dewey Lecture in the Philosophy of Law, and approximately 100 students and faculty had gathered to listen.

The protesters stood up “one by one” to “shout denunciations of Israel” before university police escorted them out of the lecture hall, according to the Post.

Outside the hall the protesters — members of the Anti-War Committee, Students for a Democratic Society and Students for Justice in Palestine — chanted “Free, free Palestine,” according to the Minnesota Daily, a campus newspaper. Anti-War Committee spokeswoman Meredith Aby-Keirstead told the Minnesota Daily, “I can’t just stand by and watch the university hire a war crimes apologist to come and speak here.”

In his speech, Halbertal argued that in fighting “asymmetric wars,” soldiers should err on the side of protecting noncombatants from being injured, the Post reported.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas condemned the “illegal and shameful disruption” of Halbertal’s lecture.

The disruptors, the Council’s director, Steve Hunegs, said in a statement, “only brought discredit upon themselves as their behavior contradicts Minnesota standards of decorum and civility, as well as respect for free speech. There is a perverse irony of the disruptors’ interference with the free expression of ideas on a university campus. Nearly all Minnesotans see no reason to import the worst elements of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to campus.

“The JCRC will not stand idly by as professors and/or students are intimidated and isolated by those who seek the destruction of the State of Israel,” he added. “For example, the chilling chants which we were subjected to yesterday, ‘From Sea to Sea, Palestine will be free,’ mean nothing less than the murder or expulsion of over 6 million Jews from Israel.”

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