University of Texas professor intimidates student activists
Last Friday, twelve members of the Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) at the University of Texas at Austin peacefully disrupted an event, which glorified the Israeli Defense Forces, but the activists were allegedly intimidated by director of the Institute for Israel Studies Ami Pedahzur.
Student organizer Mohammed Nabulsi told the Electronic Intifada, they had planned to read a two-minute statement denouncing the event—which was was hosted by the Institute for Israel Studies—for white washing the IDF’s role in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. They planned on walking out immediately after reading the statement, but they left the building before they were finished because of the intimidation.
According to The Texas Tribune, administrators at the university are reviewing the events that transpired. The university has yet to respond to Palestine in America’s request for comment.
The video begins as the activists start to disrupt the event and present an opposing view about the presenter—Stanford University historian Gil-li Vardi. Shortly after, one of the attendees, James Hasik—a weapons industry contractor and UT graduate student—tore a Palestinian flag from PSC members’ hands and attempted to grab their phones. Pedahzur is also seen being aggressive and is seen standing face-to-face with the student reading the statement.
According to an email from the PSC, shortly after members left the event, they were detained by police for 40 minutes and one of their members, who is no longer a student at UT-Austin, was issued a trespass warning and banned from entering the campus (which is a public university).
On Sunday, Pedahzur released a statement that attempted to connect the PSC with terrorism because one of their members allegedly used the name of Lebanese revolutionary Georges Abdallah as his Facebook name. Pedahzur made other Islamophobic comments inspired by the recent tragedy in Paris. He stated that “after spending two decades of learning how people turn to terrorism, I fear that what I witnessed on Friday should raise many red flags.” His statement has since been taken off his personal website and the Institute for Israel Studies’ site.
Palestine Legal issued a statement in response to the events and described the professor’s accusations against PSC members as “reckless and dangerous.”
The PSC is urging the public to contact UT administration and express their outrage about the violent intimidation of student protesters.