Israeli Lawyer Ran Bar-Yoshafat Will Return to Berkeley After Anti-Semitic Mob Shut Down His Speech

'I really think this is bigger than an Israeli issue or a Jewish issue,' he tells the Free Beacon

Ran Bar-Yoshafat (Israel National News)
March 14, 2024

Ran Bar-Yoshafat, the Israeli lawyer whose University of California, Berkeley, speech was shut down last month by an anti-Semitic mob, will return to the school next week to deliver a new talk.

Bar-Yoshafat will speak on Berkeley's campus at a Monday event sponsored by Tikvah Students for Israel and other pro-Israel groups. His appearance comes just weeks after a talk he was scheduled to deliver at Berkeley was shut down by violent demonstrators, who choked a female student attendee, spit in another's face, and shouted "Jew, Jew, Jew."

The lawyer and Israel Defense Forces reservist told the Washington Free Beacon he plans to give an altered speech that will address the ordeal and subsequent attempts to shut down his speech.

"I really think this is bigger than an Israeli issue or a Jewish issue," Bar-Yoshafat said. "This is Western civilization collapsing because people are not willing to even let me speak."

"I'm not that important. I'm a low-ranking officer," he continued. "If you're not even willing to have a dialogue or discourse, that's really the end of free speech, which is quite amazing, because the 1964 free speech movement started at Berkeley."

Berkeley launched a hate crime probe in the wake of Bar-Yoshafat's canceled February speech, with the school citing "two alleged incidents" of "overtly antisemitic expression," as well as "allegations of physical battery."

"As we stated in last week's message, what happened on Monday, Feb. 26 is unacceptable," the school's chancellor, Carol Christ, said in a Mar. 4 statement. "After we sent last week’s message, UCPD and OPHD received reports that two of the Jewish students who organized the event, as well as some of the attendees, were subjected to overtly antisemitic expression."

"UCPD is investigating these two alleged incidents, which also included allegations of physical battery, as hate crimes."

Despite that announcement, Bar-Yoshafat said Berkeley administrators have not contacted him about his first event and subsequent return to campus. A Berkeley spokesman said the school's "administration is working in close concert with the university’s police department, and the hosting student organization in support of our commitment to safeguard the First Amendment rights of all."

Some Berkeley faculty members have condemned the probe into the violent student demonstrators. The school's Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine, a group that was just formed in December, issued a statement on March 5 calling on Berkeley administrators "to cease criminal investigations into its students, and any plans of disciplinary measures against student groups." The group said Bar-Yoshafat holds "violent and hateful" views and characterized the student demonstrators as peaceful.

Berkeley is also facing a federal discrimination investigation. The Department of Education announced that investigation last week, shortly after Bar-Yoshafat and his wife were forced from campus. A Berkeley spokesperson confirmed to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the federal investigation "has to do with the events of February 26th."