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October 29, 2019 1:54 pm
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Jewish Students Criticize Duke University Security After Pro-Palestinian Activists Disrupt Speech by Former Israeli FM Tzipi Livni

avatar by Caleb Galaraga

Former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. Photo: Reuters / Stefan Wermuth.

Campus police at Duke University have faced criticism from Jewish students for alleged “double standards” after angry pro-Palestinian activists disrupted a speech by a former Israeli government minister for almost three minutes last Thursday before order was restored by security.

The incident occurred during a speech by the prominent ex-Israeli politician Tzipi Livni — who served as foreign minister during the 2008-09 war against Hamas in Gaza — to a session of Duke University’s “American Grand Strategy” leadership program. Asked a question about the Gaza operation, Livni was cut off before she could answer by about 20 students chanting epithets including “war criminal,” “threat” and “shame.” Several of the protesting students read out the names of Palestinians allegedly killed by Israeli forces.

The length of the disruption  — two-and-a-half-minutes — was noted by Jewish student leaders at Duke, who pointed out that campus security had been much faster to act against pro-Israel hecklers who faced down a pro-Palestinian speaker at a recent event.

“I think our group in general is disappointed that the security at the event let the protest go on for as long as they did,” Max Cherman — an executive member of Duke for Israel Public Affairs Committee (DIPAC) and a co-organizer of the event — told The Algemeiner on Tuesday. Cherman added that he had attended a recent Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) event with the outspoken anti-Israel activist Linda Sarsour during which security officers intervened “15-30 seconds after someone got up and tried to interrupt Sarsour.”

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Commented Cherman: “We just think here, there’s a little bit of a double standard.”

The Duke Campus Police did not respond to an Algemeiner request for comment by press time.

Duke University Professor Peter Feaver — director of the American Grand Strategy Program — told The Duke Chronicle that he reached out to the protesters prior to the event and urged them to formulate tougher questions for Livni. But James Mbuthia — a Mastercard Foundation scholar and gender studies sophomore — told The Chronicle that the Israeli minister’s mere invitation amounted to an “act of violence,” while the presumption that the conversation with her would be beneficial to all students was based upon “white privilege.”

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