Anti-Israel protestors stormed an event at the University of Pittsburgh on November 24th requiring police intervention and leaving event organizers shaken.
Roughly a dozen people stormed into the event featuring Rebecca Shimoni Stoil, a former deputy commander of combat medics in the Eshet Battalion of the Armoured Corps with signs readings “Ferguson, Pittsburgh, Gaza, Fight Back” according to the Jewish Chronicle. Stoil was lecturing on the role of gender dynamics in war and the event sponsored by the Jewish National Fund and Hillel Israel Education Committee among others.
Students testified that they were shaken and police were called in order to restore the peace:
“It was really jarring,” Haley Chizever, a JNF Campus Fellow at Pitt and a student organizer of the event, said of the protesters’ intrusion. “It was sudden. This large group of masked people came in with noisemakers and a large white sheet [used as a protest sign]. It was kind of scary; it was very out of nowhere.”
One of the protesters, Pitt student John Robert Rice, Jr., was given a citation for defiant trespass and removed from the premises, according to Ken Service, vice chancellor for communications at the University of Pittsburgh.
“He will face discipline from the university judicial process,” Service said, adding that Rice’s disruption of the event was a violation of the University’s Student Code of Conduct.
A short while later a second group of protestors, including members of the anti-Semitic campus group Students for Justice in Palestine, also made their presence felt:
A second group of protesters — several members of the Pittsburgh chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine — also entered the event carrying signs but were not disruptive, according to Katz. They stayed for the duration of the event.
“Our protest consisted of signs which read ‘the IOF (Israel Offensive Force), oppressing and illegally occupying since ‘47’ and ‘Stop U.S. Funding to Israel,’” said a member of SJP who participated in the protest but who asked not to be identified by name.
“Students for Justice in Palestine organized the silent protest which took place in the rear of the venue,” the SJP member wrote in an email. “We are still unsure who was the organizer for the other disruptive demonstration (in which no SJP members participated).”
A separate anti-Israel campus group, Jewish Voice for Peace, also drew attention to the event earlier in the day and invited students to “counter” it taking place.
The Jewish Chronicle reported that despite the interruptions Stoil ultimately merited a standing ovation from the roughly 40 students in attendance. The University of Pittsburgh is planning disciplinary action according to the report.