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November 26, 2015 5:34 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Israel Studies Professor Hounded by Anti-Israel Texas U Activists, Forced to Wear Disguise on Campus (INTERVIEW)

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Professor Ami Pedahzur. Photo: Faceboo,

Professor Ami Pedahzur. Photo: Facebook,

Chanting “Long live the Intifada,” University of Texas at Austin activists recently stormed a class to protest and disrupt a talk by a guest lecturer.

Waving Palestinian flags and shouting anti-Israel epithets, twelve members of the Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) entered the public event, sponsored by Institute for Israeli Studies Professor Ami Pedahzur and hosting Stanford University military historian Dr. Gil-Li Vardi.

Throughout the incident — during which Pedahzur insisted that the invasive students either “sit down and learn something” or leave — the PSC activists filmed everything on their cellphone cameras.

Since that episode, which took place on Friday, November 13, mere hours before Paris was brutally attacked by ISIS terrorists, Pedahzur, professor of government and founding director of the Institute for Israel Studies, has become the focus of a PSC intimidation campaign. This includes a petition circulated by the PSC and claims that Pedahzur was violent.

“We were met with physical force and intimidation,” the PSC said in a statement.

A UT Austin professor as well as an attendee escalated what was supposed to be a reading of a prepared two-minute statement, culminating in professor Ami Pedahzur physically pressing his body against a PSC member, nose-to-nose in a move to physically intimidate the student. Pedahzur had to be restrained by 3 people.

Watching the video of the episode, which was uploaded to YouTube by PSC members immediately after they crashed the event, one gets a sense of the menacing nature of the demonstration — on the part of the students, not those trying to subdue them.

In an exclusive interview with The Algemeiner on Tuesday, Pedahzur described the incident, the first of its kind he says he has experienced in his career — as professor of government, the Arnold S. Chaplik Professor in Israel and Diaspora Studies and founding director of the Institute for Israel Studies — and the ongoing nightmare he is now living as a result of it. Wearing a disguise on campus and fearing for the safety of his family and students says it in a nutshell.

“Along with the PSC petition smearing my name and accusing me of inappropriate behavior, I’ve received death threats,” Pedhazur said. “But no one at the university has offered to protect me or my students. That is why I went to the police last Monday to request protection for my class — titled ‘Suicide Terror’ — which is in a basement, so in an emergency situation, it would be very hard to evacuate 95 students. I couldn’t take the chance that because of my name, someone would try to do away with a ‘Zionist professor.’”

The first course of action Pedhazur took was to vacate the offices at the Israeli Studies Institute, and, he said, “Police gave us recommendations on how to secure the facility, so as not to put anybody at risk.”

What the university did in the immediate aftermath of the incident was to instruct Pedahzur to defer all requests from journalists to its public affairs department. Pedahzur’s silence “gave the groups the opportunity to smear me. The whole field was open to them.”

In addition, he said, “I read press releases about the intention of these students to press charges against me. So I hired a lawyer.” (It was his attorney’s permission that enabled this interview.)

It was not until 10 days after the event that the university offered an official response. On November 23, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts Randy Diehl issued the following statement, which was also sent to The Algemeiner, following a request to speak to Pedahzur:

Amidst the current controversy concerning the disruption of an academic lecture sponsored by the Institute for Israel Studies, I want to reiterate my deep admiration for the work of Professor Ami Pedahzur and the Institute for Israel Studies in conducting courses and public programming that represent the highest standard of academic discourse and dispassionate reasoning and research on a controversial subject of enormous importance. Students and faculty of every background, including Palestinians and Israelis alike, have enthusiastically received Prof. Pedahzur’s courses and his supervision of undergraduate and graduate research.

Although reviews are still ongoing, I wish to emphasize that there are places on campus for responsibly discussing disagreements. Disruption of a visiting scholar’s invited academic lecture violates principles of academic freedom and free speech that are crucial to our mission as a great university.

Asked why this particular lecture, open to the public and titled, “The Origin of a Species: The Birth of the Israeli Defense Forces’ Military Culture,” sparked particular outrage, Pedahzur said that it was “completely orchestrated” anger and part of a nationwide campaign.

“It was a targeted opportunity; it was entrapment,” Pedahzur said. “We at the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies have never had a single problem since we started the program in 2007. But last week’s episode, based on what I’ve heard, was an attempt by different groups to attach themselves to a larger movement that has been afflicting campuses, such as Mizzou [University of Missouri].”

Pedahzur, an Israeli who has been in the US for 12 years, pointed to the fact, for example, that the PSC students “didn’t say a word about the news from Paris that same night. These rioters said nothing on Facebook nor condemned the attacks. They call themselves ‘Palestinian,’ but most of them don’t even speak Arabic, other than what they’ve learned in language classes at the university. Most of them are not even Muslims; they’re American kids that don’t have anything to do with Islam.”

But, he added, “I am going to do whatever I can as a researcher to find out who is behind this group,” whose leader has openly called on people to rally behind Hamas, Islamic jihad and other groups against the Palestinian Authority, which he views as ‘collaborators’ with Israel.

Pedahzur also laughed bitterly at the notion that the students in question, while defaming his character, are claiming to be the ones who are living in fear. “Really? Who, exactly, are they afraid of? Kids at Hillel House?”

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  • First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist.
    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

    Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.
    The world has not learned. Not to speak is to speak.
    The Jews must stand up for the Israelis
    The Christians must stand up for the Jews – and vice versa.
    The true liberals who love freedom must stand for all people, must oppose those who bully others in to silence.
    If this is happening in Texas, what hope is there for the rest of America? If these are the young people of America, they will be the next generation in charge – America’s freedom truly is one generation extinction.

    • Jim Washington

      Well written and as true as when Pastor Niemoeller said it. We are less than a generation from the loss of our liberty and as shown by yesterday’s slaughter homicidal Islamic terrorism is not just for Paris – it’s here.

  • Ruth Cannon

    I believe it is Zacharia 9 or 12 in the bible coming to fufillment. If I had attended, I would now be at the school Dean demanding my money back for the whole coarse since they allowed (with no apparent consequence to the terrorists in training) the very special event to be ruined beyond learning which is what students pay good money for. If the Dean is not expelling the students and not making them pay monetarily the damages of lost education, I would have ,as a student, a good attorney to sue the school for anti sematism descimination. I would at the very least attempt it to send a strong message to the school to fear the other side before taking their rights away for future terrorist.

  • tobi love

    What I want to know is why these “students” are not expelled. They are disrupting and abusing free speech, screaming that they have a right to it while denying it to others. Is this what colleges today stand for?

  • Jimmy Winokur

    I am very troubled by the intrusive demonstration here.

    But I am more troubled that, as seems usual, it is the Palestinian side which has seized initiative in the ‘debate” over what happened. The PSC — not Stand With Us or any pro-Israel or neutral voice — has the (prominent) YouTube video. The PSC points to physical contact by the professor, when it appears to have been by someone else in the class — the professor having gone to great lengths to avoid contact, only insisting repeatedly that the young demonstrators sit and learn the (Israeli view) of the history.

    Palestinian advocacy is well financed and therefore well organized. Israel advocacy is neither of these. An Algemeiner article preaches to the converted, and is far less visible than YouTube. This must change if Israel is to have a chance in world opinion.

  • Gary Katz

    These anti-Israel agitators are not interested in hearing any views but their own, and they don’t want anybody else hearing opposing views, either. I’d be pretty pissed if I was sitting in a class and a bunch of obnoxious jerks barged in to disrupt it. It’s like when you pay to see a movie, and the people behind you won’t stop talking. Only worse.

  • Sharon

    Notice the video of this disgraceful disruption of a lecture has comments disabled on YouTube. The professors could have handled it better, but there was obviously no physical aggression as claimed by the keffiyeh-clad crybabies.

    These young people were behaving exactly like children, and it is never advisable for an adult to argue with a child. Quietly relocating the lecture to a more controllable location might have made sense.

  • Betsy

    Demonstrations such as this were exactly what Hitler’s “Brownshirts” did in the early days of Nazi Germany. SHAME, SHAME, SHAME on all colleges and universities who do not immediately expel such ignorant “students,” stupid sheep who, having no other culture with which to identify, blindly follow racist and criminal doctrines. These terror tactics against Israel and Israelis is currently occurring on campuses all over the United States. If any of you reading this are alumni of such schools, you must withhold all funding until this is brought completely under control. And let the press know. The only thing that frightens any institution is bad press and dwindling finances.

  • Sandy

    Let’s get all the Black people, the Hispanic people, the Born Again people, and everyone who has experienced discrimination to escort this guy everywhere he goes. Standing together we can stop this terrible anti-Semitism! We vowed NEVER AGAIN! Let’s make it never again right now!

  • GAN

    Third level institutions in America are becoming a hotbed for wannabe fascists. with safe place protests and student organisations shutting down lectures that would otherwise broaden the understanding of anyone willing to learn.

    Then you have the other side of the coin where there is uproar over protests outside mosques by Texans (against the islamification of the state) that is being cited as a worrying rise in Islamaphobia. There is even a picture on the net and going around twitter showing an armed man following a Moselm woman with a rifle that i’m sure is photo shopped to drive the issue. Although there is video on You tube video showing the protest (no woman or even people were near them), there is no original source to the image despite having a fox news banner.

  • Charles D. Gelfand

    I think it’s time for the University of Texas in Austin to expel any student that preaches hate and bigotry.
    This is not an abrogation of their rights of freedom of speech, but a warning that terroristic threats and coercion is not legal .

  • Aliza

    Where was campus security?

  • Yale

    Pedhazur should use the uploaded video to identify his assailants and then sue them, and any organization with which they may be affiliated, back into the Stone Age.

  • Shlomo

    Sadly, this is in great part the result of uber-Liberal Jews and so-called Progressives. They run around trying to impress by whining about the “poor Palestinians.”

  • Recently a law professor states,(in response to BDS,) Americans are entitled to free speech but not to freedom of action. Disturbing the peace is against the law. Individuals who disturb the peace should be arrested and charged. Individuals who harass and stalk a person are doing something against the law. They also should be arrested. The University should stand behind their faculty and protect their students from harassment. As was pointed out, the students are paying to learn and this should be protected.

  • dont just stand there fight dont be afraid if you fight they know even if you lose . they know they might get hurt. if you get hurt so what,they will respect you more and wont do it again.nevr again.

  • Neil Edwards

    I call upon those students who were in attendance to learn and participate in this event to demand the expulsion from UT of the students who disrupted the class. It was their rights that were violated by these students, who have no right to take over and deny the attendees their right to see and hear what they came for. This is not denial of free speech to the pro-Intifada, anti-free-speech protestors. They are the ones insisting on denying free speech to others.

  • send these students to saudi arabia

    send these students to saudi arabia

  • Wm. J. Levy

    Where were all the Jews on campus and why they didn’t they organize and fight for those Israelis?

    This is becoming like Nazi Germany and the Jews are once more the innocent victims.

    When do they become strong and tough or is a Holocaust needed once more because they are dealing with cowards and the Jews act like cowards.

    • Steven

      I’m curious … Where was Prof. Pedahzur when pro-Israel students on campus fought against BDS or when other pro-Israel lectures on campus were interrupted in a similar manner. Did he speak out then, or is he only speaking out now that he has also been targeted?

    • Ellen Gershenbaum

      i don’t understand why jews on college campuses are so intimidted by these racist thugs. we are stronger than they are. get up in their face and fight back! no one has the right to interrupt a class or threaten a lecturer.

  • Andrew

    You have idiotic students and an administration thats scared to take action. These students should have been kicked out of school, if the roles were reversed that’s what would have happened.

  • Pearl

    Anti-Semitism rears it’s ugly in academia and NO ONE on the faculty and administration stands up to it. If they think this will stop once Jews are gone , think again. Remember hitler and the nazis. Six million Jews were killed, but so were an additional Christians, priests, jehovas witnesses, artists, doctors, lawyers and anyone else they deemed unfit to meet the aryan criteria. The terrorists on campus , and that’s what they are, will come after you next. A caliphate means ANYONE who isn’t Muslim .
    Sleep on that. Keep silent at your own peril!

    • Leslie Benjamini

      You are 100% right.

  • Harry

    This kind of treatment of profs by supposed students on a university campus should not be tolerated. Academic freedom means when it’s your turn at the dais, you get to speak uninterrupted for the time that you have the room. Anyone who cannot respect that does not belong on a university or college campus, is unprepared for the college atmosphere and, if engaging in behavior that disrupts a class, should immediately be expelled from that class and referred to the dean or appropriate officials for further action. A university classroom or lecture hall is a place of learning, not a place of rioting or partying. As such it has rules of order and decorum which if they’re not followed disrupt learning and should be dealt with immediately. People pay thousands of dollars in tuition to hear learned men and women speak and to do research and ask questions in a manner that fosters learning. They are being robbed when any such event, be it a class, a lecture, or a guest speech, is interrupted by thuggery. The failure to maintain classroom decorum on the college campus, when it is clear that a group of students persistently resists respecting it, becomes the responsibility of the college itself when it refuses to recognize the problem and solve it by expulsion of the offending parties.

    • Leslie Benjamini

      When the college administration & officials in charge do nothing & in fact go along with the behavior it just gives the students permission to continue. The professors who teach the radical ideas that foment this behavior are just as culpable as the the people in authority. It starts at the top & works its way down. If there is no one in authority to teach rules of civility & behavior to the students they grow up like wild animals. Our society does nothing to stop this. It has been going on now for 20 years in colleges all over the country. I’ve seen it with my own eye in Irvine Ca. almost 20 years ago. Finally they got smart & took action. But it took real determination on the part of parents & the community not to put up with this crap anymore.

    • margee

      Well said.

  • palestinian thuggery that is pervasive in Israel was exported and infects every decent society that allows it, the world over. These benign tumors are found at many US universities. There is no known cure except for Israel.

    • Dante

      Benign? Really?

    • Andy Snipper

      Sorry, benign tumours?
      There is nothing benign about these actions. There is a deep and highly malignant tumour spreading poison around universities not only in the US but here in the UK, France, Spain et al.
      The supposed left wing intellectuals that have embraced the Palestinian cause have been working under the radar for 40+ years and it is only now that we are beginning to see the hatred that it carries.
      Under the banner of anti-Zionism Jews everywhere are attacked and shouted down with the full complicity of the authorities and yet for 40+ years we, the Jews, have sat back and let the subversive few get on with their poison.
      This type of action happens somewhere in the world of academia EVERY DAY.
      Just ignore it until you can’t stand up and say “I AM A JEW” without being shouted down by an ignorant idiot in a scarf and beard

  • Jack

    Jack is an euphemism.
    I hold a degree in Political Science.
    I am Canadian.
    I have been studying Islamo-facist developments since ’68.
    I have faced similar reactions, though not in a class room setting, including threats against myself and those I love, including my country.
    The ignorance of these Islamist thugs is unparalleled, and if given the chance they would put the Nazi’s to shame, so demented is the consideration or hubris is, of the modern iteration of neo-Nazi Islamist.
    The study that is under duress sounds really neat tho!

    • Billy S

      “Jack is an euphemism.”

      I’m guessing you mean “a pseudonym”.


    Professor Pedahzur deserves our admiration and support. Why is this behavior tolerated by the college administrations? Campus police should eject them for disrupting classes and if they persist, these students should be suspended or expelled from school.

    • Leslie Benjamini

      This is finally what happened in in UCI in CA. But it took years of fighting with the administration. You can’t give up. You really have to fight.

  • Dante

    the reputation of the university as an institution of bias, obscurantism & intimidation might be made but its reputation as institution of scholarship, inquiry & the free exchange of ideas is in serious jeopardy. if the administration confines itself to vague reprovals of barbaric conduct & fails to protect students & faculty, it will have betrayed the university & collaborated with the barbarian-destroyers.

  • Yoel Nitzarim

    Having endured just a one-student effort to take over my English Composition I class on two occasions, including the final oral presentation, an structured assignment based on coursework having nothing to do with Israel, the Israelis, or the Palestinians, I empathise with Dr. Pedahzur. The should be and there must be freedom of speech in American universities, so Dr. Pedahzur’s previously invited guest speaker would surely have had the right to speak to the students without any harassment or interruption. We each have our own way and venue to teach our subject matter to the next generation, and I fully respect Dr. Pedahzur and his colleagues in their gallant effort to share Israel’s ongoing success story in amongst nations totally dedicated to her destruction.

  • nelson marans

    I blame a gutless administration that refuses to expel permanently those students engaged in disrupting by both verbal and physical harassment a professor presenting his views. SJP supports terror and should be banned from all college campuses, period.

  • Dave

    These disruptions have a methodology behind them. They first disrupt a lecture, provoke a response from the audience or the lecturer, are video taped for PR releases afterwards etc. 3 years ago at the University of New Nexico in Albuquerque, a pro Israel gathering and lecture went exactly like that. Audience members tried to push the PSC students out of the hall, resulted in criminal charges against a member of the audience. College police was called in but did nothing. School administrators did nothing in this case and called the disturbance an “exercise of free speech”. The pro Pal people are stifling
    any open and honest exchange about the conflict, intimidating the Hillel kids and lecturers.

  • I am stained glass artist near Taylor in the country 40 years IBM Retiree and UT PHD student 30 years ago. If Prof Pedahzur ever needs a safe place to run to or hide or anything I can provide call me. 512 352 7178. I know who US friends really are!

  • enufizenuf

    After 25 years living in Texas I can honestly say there are no more vile, stupid and revolting people on the planet than the leftist scum of Texas. It is a testament to the true liberality of real Texans that these commie freaks are still among the living.

    • Harry

      I know what you mean, enufizenuf. I’ve run across one or two of them on the Internet myself. I’m beginning to think we need to coin a phrase for it and call it the “Austin Disease.”

  • Linda Rivera

    It’s UNFORGIVABLE that massive numbers of Muslims whose Quran Book of Hate, Mass Murder and ETERNAL WAR against non-Muslims, have been imported into our nations.

    Because of constant violent attacks by Muslims in Europe, Jews are fleeing Europe. Are violent attacks against Jews something Muslims are eager to start in America?

    Muslims in Israel constantly violently attack Jews.

    The professor and students must be given around the clock protection.

    Instead of bringing in FAKE Muslim refugees that will include many ISIS savages to live off welfare, the money must instead be spent on protecting people whose lives are in danger from Muslims.

    Muslim immigration into our nations MUST BE PERMANENTLY ENDED. Non-Muslims must have the basic human right of protection.

  • jakob wasi

    I recall the days when Noam Chomsky spoke critically of Israel on college campuses. At that time, he had to have body guards to protect him from the Zionists who threatened him. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and protesters are aware of the Zionist state’s deleterious policies at home and abroad, and the tarnished halo Israeli wear that they are in a class above ordinary mortals. If the professor had to wear a disguise, well then, let him go back home and fight for a rational policy towards the Palestinians and against illegal settlements, a two state solution, and defanging the military clique that rule Israel.

    • Joan

      And now Chomsky speaks critically of BDS tactics like these so indeed the shoe is on the other foot. I hope, if you are a US citizen, you will stay and fight against threats to free speech and civil society like the ones these students attempted on the Israel Studies program and Dr. Pedazhur.

    • Michael Palmer

      Two State solution?? Who is kidding who?? The Palestinans will only be satisified when there is ONE PALESTINE from River to Sea. They will only be satisfied when Israel no longer exists. Their leaders are frauds, who lie and hide their true intentions. They have sanctioned killings and massacres of Jews long before there ever was a state of Israel. They were given opportunities for a TWO STATE solution, in 1937, 1948, 2000, and again in 2008. Their leaders only offered war and Intifadas in return.

    • Michael

      As it happens, I attended a number of Chomsky’s lectures back in the day, and his “body-guards” were people he recruited to provide the atmospherics of his being “threatened”. he would point to them as evidence of how “right” he was about all the lies he was spewing.

      I was able to pose a question to him once, and only once before his thugs moved against me, in which I clearly had caught him lying. Without a blink of an eye, he cited by Volume, Number, and page an article from the East Slovakian Journal of Industrial Hydroponics that proved his point beyond a shadow of a doubt. His acolytes thought that was most impressive. Needless to say, there is and never has been an East Slovakian Journal of Industrial Hydroponics; he made it up on the spot.

      • Jacob Gore

        Chomsky no longer gives specific false citations like that. His standard “citation” is “It’s a matter of public record.”

    • tobi love

      The Palestinians do not want a two state solution. They want all of Israel. What do you think “from the river to the sea Palestine will be free means”? Why was there no talk of a Palestinian people wanting a Palestinian state while Jordan was illegally occupying the West Bank and Egypt was illegally occupying Gaza? If Jerusalem and the Dome of the Rock is so important to Muslims why is it that no Muslim leader went there while Jordan occupied it? Jews have lived continually in Israel for 3,500 years and derive their name from Judea. Arabs come from Arabia. In the 700’s Muhammad marched his army from Arabia through the Middle East capturing the land from the indigenous peoples (not Arabs), occupying the land and forcing Islam on them. Go read an unbiased history book.

  • Carla Isselmann

    I wonder if it would just not be better to expel simply those activists from decent campuses and let them all end up in some third-rate so-called university. This is sick….

    • len

      Keep them at TU hopefully they will spend the rest of their lives in debt paying off the tuition they wasted harassing others attempting an education!

  • Anschel

    UT should expel the so-called students — they are incompatible with an academic environment.

  • Bruce Phillips

    So, can we expect the UT Muslim students association to decry the denial of free speech to Israel studies?

  • z

    “I am going to do whatever I can as a researcher to find out who is behind this group,..”

    Don’t be surprised where that search leads you, because it leads right to the US gov mafia and its subsidiaries.