Palestine activists arrested at University of Minnesota for protesting Israeli war crimes apologist

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On Tuesday, three pro-Palestine supporters were arrested after protesting a speech by an Israeli war crimes apologist at the University of Minnesota (UMN).

They were charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing, the three were released on bail later that night.

Over 50 pro-Palestine supporters interrupted a lecture by Hebrew University professor Moshe Halbertal, co author of the Israeli military code of ethics, “Protecting Civilians: Moral Challenges of Asymmetric Warfare,” Fight Back! News reported.

The counter action was organized by the UMN’s Anti-War Committee and endorsed by Students for Justice in Palestine at UMN.

Protesters called out the university on violating the international academic boycott of Israel and bringing a war crime apologist to speak at UMN.

“Members of the Anti-War committee were sitting inside the lecture that Halbertal was speaking at. One by one, even before he started to speak, members stood up and disrupted the event,” Rula Rashid, SJP UMN President, told PiA.

Both groups interrupted by repeatedly asking questions, according to Rashid.They asked questions like, “Why is the Law School spending $5,000 for a war crimes apologist to defend Israel, while university students can’t afford tuition rates that have doubled in ten years? Why is the university flagrantly violating its commitment to human rights by refusing to honor the academic boycott of Israel, hosting a speaker that gives legal cover to apartheid?”

At that point, police began to escort members outside of the lecture hall. A policeman also allegedly used excessive force against a woman protester. She was videotaping the event, but did not know that wasn’t allowed, according to Rashid. The woman protester was shoved and forcibly grabbed by her arm as the police officer continued to yell at her, Rashid said.

The supporters of the protest continued to chant outside the lecture hall while the event was still in session. The police called for more backup and threatened to arrest the protesters.

Anti-War Committee member Sophia Hansen-Day was one of three arrested at the event.

“Currently, Palestinians are engaged in another wave of popular resistance against Israeli apartheid, military occupation and settler colonialism. With thousands injured and at least 73 Palestinians killed in October alone, the urgency of standing in solidarity with Palestine cannot be understated. This means demanding the university support the academic boycott of Israel, which it is flagrantly violating by hosting Halbertal, and stating emphatically that apartheid apologists are not welcome here!” She told Fight Back! News.

Incidents of harassment, threats, and unjustified arrests are common for pro-Palestine supporters. Palestine Legal responds to hundreds of incidents and requests for help, as showcased in their new report, the Palestine Exception to Free Speech: A Movement Under Attack in the U.S. Recent incidents include members of SJP Chicago being harassed and threatened after Palestine day of action demonstrations.

Despite these incidents, SJP members continue to advocate for Palestine on their campuses.

“We will continue to shed light on the injustice in Palestine and advocate for Palestinian justice. This includes disrupting speakers like Halbertal who is invited to speak on our campus and attempted to justify and explain away atrocities like the killing of Palestinians,” Rashid told PiA.

Adeeba Mabruk

Adeeba Mabruk is a Palestinian-American based in Chicago. She is the Managing Editor of Palestine in America and is the member of the organizations board of directors.

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