Police Called on U. Minnesota Student Disrupting Israeli Arab Speakers

Speakers brought to school by Zionist student club


Campus police at the University of Minnesota were called Tuesday evening to arrest a protester when she refused to end her disruptive character attacks of Israeli Arab speakers brought to the school by a Zionist student club.

The woman, Leila Ismar Abdennabi, a former UM teacher's assistant, walked up and down the aisle of the lecture room smearing the speakers for 10 minutes, calling them "rats" and "cowards," according to organizers of the event.

The program was sponsored by UM's chapter of Students Supporting Israel to highlight the stories of Israeli citizens and reservists of Muslim, Arab, Christian, and Druze backgrounds, and featured three members of a delegation with a group called Reservists on Duty.

The Abdennabi wore a hijab and suggested the speakers were not representative of their communities.

Ilan Sinelnikov, founder of the national SSI organization, said he made sure the incident was recorded, and when the protester ignored multiple demands that she cease her disruptions, SSI called campus police.

Sinelnikov said Abdennabi accused police officers of white supremacy when they arrested her.

Avi Shaver, secretary of SSI, said his group is shaken up from last night's events and have decided to allocate funds for security at an upcoming event with an Israeli soldier.

Shaver said he introduced himself to Abdennabi before the program got underway.

"She said she was a former student who studied sociology and social justice [at UM]," said Shaver. "She said she came to the event because she wanted to hear ‘the genocide apologists.'"

Shaver said security gave the protester a warning not to return to that part of the campus in the future.

"The police did their job and I am thankful for UMPD for being so great," wrote Sinelnikov on social media.

On numerous occasions, chapters of Sinelnikov's organization have had to turn to campus security to intervene when their programming has been derailed by student and community activists.

At the University of California, Irvine last semester, another event featuring RoD representatives discussing their time in the army and life in Israel was derailed by a mass of chanting activists, who then blocked the main exit of the building, forcing SSI to call for a police escort.

A speech by Israeli United Nations Ambassador Danny Danon at Columbia University, organized by that school's SSI in February 2017, was repeatedly interrupted by protesters chanting about Israeli war crimes. Each time a group of demonstrators stood up and began to shout at Danon, security led them out of the auditorium.

After last night, Sinelnikov has issued a warning to anti-Israel activists who impede his students' programming "that there are results to their actions."

The RoD speakers who appeared at UM began their speaking tour of U.S. campuses at Stanford University last week. That event was nearly cancelled, after the original organizers, the Stanford Israel Association, suddenly backed out less than a day before the presentation, citing concerns with RoD's "past behavior." The school's Chabad Jewish center stepped in and hosted the reservists, with the Chabad rabbi saying he was "honored" to help out.

Update 4:08 p.m.: This post has been updated with further information.

Update Oct. 27, 9:31 a.m.: This post has been updated with the name of the protester.

Rachel Frommer

Rachel Frommer   Email | Full Bio | RSS
Rachel Frommer is a staff writer with the Washington Free Beacon reporting on campus issues, including anti-free speech and anti-Israel activity. Prior to the Free Beacon, she was the senior campus correspondent at The Algemeiner. Her work has been picked up by Fox News, Newsweek, and the New York Post. She graduated from Touro College in 2016 with a BA in English literature. Her Twitter handle is @Rachel_Frommer, and her email address is frommer@freebeacon.com.

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