Foreign Policy

published : 2023-11-09

Anti-Israel Protesters Disrupt Congressional Hearing on College Antisemitism

House Judiciary Committee Member Condemns Protesters' Actions

Pro-Palestine demonstrator holding a sign with the message 'pro Palestine does not equal antisemitism'

Pro-Palestine demonstrators caused disruptions during a House Judiciary hearing focused on addressing the rise of antisemitism and anti-conservative bias on college campuses. The protesters chanted slogans like 'Free Gaza' and 'cease-fire now' as they interrupted Jewish students and other witnesses giving testimony before Congress.

The disturbance began as Connor Ogrydziak, a recent graduate of the University of Buffalo, started his testimony on 'freedom of speech on college campuses'. A protester in the gallery stood up with a sign that read 'pro Palestine does not equal antisemitism' and loudly voiced their opposition. Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan worked to restore order as the committee was disrupted.

The protester accused politicians of 'genocide' and referenced the estimated death toll in Gaza claimed by Hamas. Police officers escorted the protester out, but more demonstrators continued to disrupt proceedings, with one bringing up the controversy surrounding Rep. Rashida Tlaib and her previous use of the antisemitic chant 'from the river to the sea'.

Police officers escorting a disruptive protester out of the House Judiciary hearing

Despite efforts by the committee chairman to regain control, the interruptions persisted. The protesters, some wearing red hands as a symbolic gesture, accused Israel of 'apartheid'. Police removed them one by one while the demonstrators chanted 'cease-fire now'.

During a line of questioning, Rep. Darrell Issa criticized the protesters, stating that their actions were playing into the hands of Iran. Issa called for investigations into the funding that supports antisemitism and emphasized the importance of standing up to protect freedom of expression on college campuses.

Connor Ogrydziak, who faced previous threats and protests for inviting controversial speakers to Buffalo University, attempted to continue his testimony amid the disruptions. Protesters shouted slogans advocating for Palestine and accused Israel of genocide.

Jewish student Connor Ogrydziak giving testimony before Congress on college antisemitism

The hearing, which began with statistics from the Anti-Defamation League showing a significant increase in antisemitic incidents after a recent attack in Israel, was constantly disrupted by demonstrators. Rep. Jerry Nadler, also referencing a rise in antisemitic activity leading up to the attack, offered an apology to a witness who had faced threats and harassment at Cornell University.

In conclusion, the protesters' disruptions overshadowed the congressional hearing on college antisemitism. Despite the efforts of the Judiciary Committee, the demonstrators' chants and slogans dominated much of the debate. The incident highlights the ongoing tensions surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and raises concerns about freedom of speech and rising antisemitism on college campuses.