Violent mob screaming ‘intifada’ force Jews to flee through tunnels at UC Berkeley

Pro-Palestine demonstrators spit and smash windows at an event organised by Jewish student groups


Jewish students were forced to evacuate a lecture hall at UC Berkeley when 200 pro-Palestine demonstrators swarmed the building in protest of an Israeli guest speaker. (Photo: Screenshot via X)

Jewish students were evacuated through tunnels from a building on UC Berkeley’s campus on Monday night after some 200 demonstrators shouting “intifada, Intifada” rioted over a scheduled lecture featuring Israeli attorney and IDF reservist Ran Bar-Yoshafat.

The demonstrators, wielding Palestinian flags, smashed the glass door of UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Playhouse, where several dozen students were due to attend the lecture organised by three Jewish groups on campus.

Danielle Sobkin, a third-year student and one of the organisers who invited Bar-Yoshafat to speak, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the rioters grabbed a student who tried to attend the event, called him a “dirty Jew” and spat on him. She said that protesters also shoved a student into the auditorium door as she tried to check in attendees, and that they grabbed a first-year student by her neck.

“This isn’t an isolated incident,” said Sobkin, who is the co-president of Bears for Israel, one of the three Jewish groups involved in organising the event. “This is a continuous trend that’s persisted my entire time on campus. Jewish hate. The targeting of Jewish students.”

The event had been scheduled to take place at 6.30pm on Monday night at Wheeler Hall, home of the university’s English department, where Bar-Yoshafat was due to address “Israel’s international legal challenges,” “the rules of wartime conduct” and “how the IDF can better protect civilians,” according to the event page shared by organising groups on social media.

But Bears for Palestine, another on-campus organisation, posted the details of the event on Instagram with the message: “Shut it down: Genocidal murderers out of Berkeley,” featuring an edited photo of Bar-Yoshofat with red eyes and the word “murderer” stamped over his face.

According to Sobkin, Wheeler Hall was overrun by protesters chanting so loudly that students could not hear their lecturers. The event was moved to Zellerbach Playhouse and police were dispatched to protect attendees, though campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof told the San Francisco Chronicle that the number of officers who arrived was “clearly” not sufficient.

Berkeley police have been contacted for comments.

Mogulof confirmed that roughly 200 protesters swarmed Zellerbach Playhouse though he could not substantiate injury claims. Videos posted to social media show Jewish students evacuating the building via underground tunnels.

UC Berkeley Hillel, as well as Students Supporting Israel, Bears for Israel and Tikvah Students for Israel, the three groups responsible for organising the event, issued statements condemning the attacks on Jewish students.

On Tuesday afternoon, UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Benjamin Hermelin issued a message to the Berkeley campus community, expressing “great sadness, concern, and dismay” over the incident. The statement said that the incident violated “some of our most fundamental values,” and urged students to report what they witnessed and experienced to campus authorities.

"We approach events like this with two priorities: to do what we can so that the event can go forward, and to do what we can to safeguard student safety and well-being. Last night, despite our efforts and the ample number of police officers, it was not possible to do both given the size of the crowd and the threat of violence,” the statement said.

The incident coincides with mounting frustration over antisemitic signs displayed at nearby UC Santa Barbara’s Multicultural Centre. Targeting Zionists as well as the Jewish president of the student body at UC Santa Barbara, Tessa Vekler, the messages on the signs included "Zionists not welcome, "Tessa Veksler supports genocide," and "You can run but you can't hide Tessa Veksler," according to photos shared by Vekler in an Instagram post on Monday.

"How can Jewish students feel safe when they see a Jewish leader being explicitly targeted? This is dehumanizing and rooted in antisemitism," Veksler wrote on Instagram. "This incident is not an isolated event but rather a culmination of neglecting to adequately address the implications of such speech and actions within our university."

On Tuesday the California Legislative Jewish Caucus issued a statement “unequivocally” condemning the attacks on Jewish students at UC Berkeley and UC Santa Barbara, calling attention to the fact that statements issued by campus leadership at both universities “failed to mention that it was Jewish students and organisations that were targeted.

“This ambiguity and lack of moral clarity is unacceptable. Antisemitism must be condemned — clearly, forcefully, and without reservation.”

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