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Complaint lodged against anti-Israel activists over disruption of Bari Weiss speech at UNC campus

A free speech rights group lodged a complaint Wednesday against anti-Israel activists with Students for Justice in Palestine, for disrupting an event at the University of North Carolina campus on January 22 that included a noted journalist and author who has condemned antisemitism. 

The speakers were Bari Weiss, formerly of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, and Duke University professor, Frank Bruni, a longtime Times vet.

In the middle of the UNC talk, activists with UNC’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine shouted down the speakers before exiting the auditorium, the complaint said.

The group of about 45 shouted slogans such as  “Bari Bari, you can’t hide, you’re committing genocide” as they slowly got up from their seats in the back and took about three minutes to leave the auditorium, according to an account of the incident by writer Peter Reitzes.

The event then continued — but Reitzes added that the activists lingered outside the venue and shouted at attendees after the event.

“A group of four masked SJP activists shouted at us and followed my group,” he said.
“Police officers appeared to follow the activists who were following us.

A free speech group has filed a complaint against the University of North Carolina after pro-Palestinian protestors interrupted a speech on campus from Bari Weiss and Frank Bruni. Voice4Israel of NC / Youtube
The Students for Justice in Palestine members accused Weiss of “committing genocide.” Voice4Israel of NC / Youtube

On January 16, UNC’s SJP chapter had announced plans to disrupt the event through a “walkout,” the complaint lodged by UNC by the group Free Speech First noted.

SJP, in the flyer organizing the protest, slammed Weiss as a “U.S. right wing political commentator who… egregiously attempts to conflate anti-Zionism and antisemitism” and who condemns “antisemitism of the left.”

Weiss — the founder of The Free Press — resigned as a Times columnist over alleged bias against conservative viewpoints.

The complaint against UNC noted that the group had previously announced a “walk out” for the event. Getty Images
Demonstrators brought out a sign featuring a tweet condemning Weiss. Voice4Israel of NC / Youtube
Police officers escorting the protesters out of the room. Voice4Israel of NC / Youtube

Weiss, in a statement on X Wednesday said, “How did the most educated generation in American history become the most sympathetic to Hamas?”

The complaint lodged with UNC claimed the heckling violated the state’s Campus Free Speech Act and the university’s own policy barring the denial of someone else’s right to express themselves by “substantially disrupt[ing]” or “substantially interfer[ing]” with “the rights of others to engage in and listen to expressive activity.”

“The right to free speech does not mean the right to silence others. What good are campus policies and state laws protecting free speech if there is no intention of enforcing them?” Free Speech First executive director Cherise Trump said in a statement Wednesday.

The event continued after the protest ended. Voice4Israel of NC / Youtube

In the complaint, Speech First urges the University to initiate disciplinary proceedings against all students who participated the protest of the speaking engagement.

The Post reached out to UNC and SJP for comment.

Complaints of antisemitism have skyrocketed on college campuses amid anti-Israel protests following Hamas’ Oct. 7 invasion of the Jewish State and Israel’s military response in Gaza.

Written by SaleemBaloch

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