Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement, 1964-2024. RIP

This fall will mark the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the famous “free speech” movement at UC Berkeley. You can find my account of it, written in the aftermath of the Milo Yiannopoulos riot of February, 2017, which I was present for, at this link.

The Yiannopoulos riot was bad enough, but last night there was a sequel at Berkeley. As loyal readers may know, I am not around campus much this semester, as I’m temporarily filling in for a recently deceased professor at Pepperdine’s graduate school. So I missed a mob that prevented Ran Bar-Yoshafat, a reserve combat officer in the Israel Defense Forces who has been deployed in Gaza, from giving a presentation on campus at the invitation of several student groups.

The mob was not peacefully protesting. As has happened to Jewish students at many campuses, the mob was banging on doors and threatening violence. The Jewish News of Northern California offers an account—some excerpts:

Jewish students at UC Berkeley evacuated from a campus theater Monday night after a mass of protesters, chanting “Intifada! Intifada!” and other slogans, shattered a glass door at the venue and shut down a scheduled lecture by an Israeli attorney and IDF reservist.

Several students who were attending or working the event at Zellerbach Playhouse were injured, including two young women, one of whom sprained a thumb wrestling to keep a door shut as protesters tried to muscle it open. Another female student reportedly was handled around her neck, leaving marks. A third student was spit on, he told J.

The lecture was scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. Ran Bar-Yoshafat, who is a reserve combat officer in the Israel Defense Forces and was deployed in Gaza, planned to discuss international law as it pertains to Israel. “He’ll explore whether Israel violates international law, the rules of wartime conduct, and how the IDF can better protect civilians,” a social media post publicizing the event said.

The talk was conceived of as a small lecture in a classroom at Wheeler Hall, but organizers moved it at the direction of campus police for safety reasons after the anti-Zionist group Bears for Palestine, the Cal affiliate of Students for Justice in Palestine, called for a protest to “shut it down,” according to Joseph Karlan, a student leader of campus pro-Israel group Tikvah and one of the event organizers.

There’s more at the link.

Separately in the Jewish News, Daniel Solomon, a graduate student acquaintance of mine who was present, reports:

The people who were forced to flee apparently forfeited their right to security after committing the unpardonable sin of coming to hear an Israeli speak on campus. The university, which has touted its commitment to free speech while actually condoning a climate of antisemitic intimidation, did little to protect the safety of the speaker and audience — and even less to protect their free speech rights.

Parading through the campus in a fashion worthy of the finest paramilitary, the pro-Palestinian rioters exulted in their victory.

This latest episode at UC Berkeley caps months of harassment — and on occasion, violent outbursts— from wannabe Hamasniks. On Oct. 7, the day of the Hamas pogrom, Bears for Palestine released a statement praising its “comrades in blood and arms” for their operations “in the so-called ‘Gaza envelope.’” The same organization then mounted demonstrations at which participants clamored to “globalize the intifada” and “free Palestine from the river to the sea.”

Again, more at the link above, and do read the whole thing if you have time.

If there are no consequences for this latest act, which is worse in many ways than the Yiannopoulos affair if you think about it for a few minutes, then it can truly be said that free speech is dead at UC Berkeley.

Here are some related videos and collateral material:

I’ve reached the point where I hope a second Trump Administration will propose Nuremberg Trials for campus anti-Semites, on whom who foolish college administrations bestowed tenured faculty positions.

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