Protests are expected to disrupt an upcoming talk by lawyer and political commentator Alan Dershowitz at Columbia University, according to event organizers.
Dershowitz's sold-out talk about the Constitution, free speech, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will likely be disrupted by dozens of anti-Israel student activists, said Ofir Dayan, the media coordinator for Students Supporting Israel, the group hosting the event.
Recent Stories in Culture
Some 30 seats have been reserved by those affiliated with Students for Justice in Palestine, Columbia University Apartheid Divest, and Jewish Voice for Peace, according to Dayan, a tactic she said has been used in the past to facilitate shout-downs of SSI programming.
"They sign up in large numbers so that they can protest," she said. "[They] have an anti-normalization policy, which means they do not engage or discuss with anyone who has a different opinion. Their opinion is that Israel should be wiped off the map and that all terrorism targeting Israel or Israelis is ‘legitimate,' so anyone who is against the murder of innocent civilians and supports Israel's right to exist is shunned from the conversation."
Dayan—daughter of Israeli diplomat Dani Dayan, who came up against protesters himself while speaking at the City College of New York last spring—said that disruptions of Dershowitz's talk "will expose the anti-Israel movement for being fascist and violent."
Dershowitz told the Washington Free Beacon in an email, "I am a centrist liberal who supports a two state solution. If protesters try to stop students from hearing my centrist views it shows how afraid they are of differing perspectives. I'm confident that Columbia University will assure my physical safety and allow the students to listen to me. I invite protesters to ask me hard questions but I will not be silenced by intolerant censors, either of the extreme left or extreme right."
Dayan said "heavy security" has been coordinated with the university for Wednesday's program, including restricting ticketing to those with Columbia student IDs. A limited 10 seats have been allowed for non-Columbia personnel.
As in the past, "if and when the disruptions come, the disrupters will be lead out of the room," Dayan explained.
Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon was repeatedly disrupted when SSI brought him to campus last year, with coordinated chants of "Danny Danon you can't hide, we charge you with genocide" and "Racists must go" derailing the lecture at staggered times throughout the evening.
Other SSI chapters have dealt with similar challenges against their events. Sanctions were recently levied against the University of California-Irvine chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, punishment for the group's disruption of an SSI event featuring Israeli reservists last semester. SJP has appealed and a final decision by the administration is forthcoming.