Anti-Israel Protestors Verbally Abuse Palestinian Peace Activist at Tufts University
by Dion J. Pierre
Masked protestors disrupted a Tufts University event on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Tuesday and called one of the panelists a “sl*t,” The Tufts Daily, a campus newspaper, reported on Wednesday.
The verbally assailed panelist, Khalil Sayegh, who is Palestinian, was invited to campus alongside Israeli citizen Sarah Mandel by Tufts Friends of Israel and Tufts J-Street U. Both are members of “Roots,” a group describing itself as a network of Israelis and Palestinians working to end the conflict between their peoples. They are currently touring US college campuses.
“Roots, Roots, you can’t hide. You’re protecting genocide,” the protestors, who played loud music, chanted before turning their attention to Sayegh and shouting the expletive.
“The disruption of the event and the offensive language directed toward the Jewish and Palestinian guest speakers are absolutely unacceptable and a violation of our community standards,” Tufts University president Anthony Monaco said on Wednesday in a statement provided to The Algemeiner. “Tufts University police and other relevant offices at the university are investigating and we will hold accountable any members of our community who are found to be responsible.”
The Tufts Daily said that the demonstration resembled others staged by Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) but that no group has claimed responsibility for it.
“I’m disappointed and saddened that the very idea of a dialogue on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict has become controversial,” Tufts Friends of Israel vice president Ian Kaplan told the paper. “These conversations need to be had.”
Kaplan added that the protestors’ actions “undermine the fundamental mission of the university” and called on Jewish students to be “empowered to stand up for themselves and what they believe in.”
Sayegh said, “I sympathize with [the] people’s opinions…as a Palestinian myself” while Sarah Mandel urged “all the students on campus to really open their minds to people that are different to them, even if it feels incredibly challenging to listen to the differences.”
In March 2022, Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine asked students to sign a pledge supporting BDS, which opposes Israel’s continued existence as a Jewish nation-state. Signatories were instructed to boycott goods targeted by BDS, including Israeli fruits and vegetables, as well as products by Sabra, Puma, AXA, SodaStream, and Ahava, a manufacturer of skincare products.
At the time, a Tufts University spokesperson called the campaign “divisive and harmful,” explaining that it would “ostracize” fellow students from important conversations around difficult issues.
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.