Anti-Israel protesters interrupted Jewish students and other witnesses testifying before Congress about the rise of antisemitism and anti-conservative bias on college campuses Wednesday.
Right as Connor Ogrydziak, recent graduate of the University of Buffalo, began his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee hearing slated to discuss “freedom of speech on college campuses,” a protester stood up in the gallery with sign saying pro Palestine does not equal antisemitism. “Silencing anti-Zionist Jewish and Arab students is not about battling antisemitism,” the protester shouted, as Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, gaveled for the committee to remain in order.
Accusing politicians of “genocide,” the protester cited the estimated 10,000 people Hamas claims have died in Gaza. Police officers escorted the protester out, while another demonstrator began shouting about the censure of far-left Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Michigan, over her use of the antisemitic chant “from the river to the sea” that promises to erase Israel from the map. Jordan promised those who interrupted the hearing would be ousted, as more demonstrators, donning red hands, accused Israel of “apartheid.”
“Cease-fire, now. Cease-fire, now,” a protester shouted while being removed by police.
Later during a line of questioning, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California., said “the protesters who have all been escorted out probably don’t understand, but they are playing into the hands of Iran.”
“They are playing into the hands of the last major nation to be not just Antisemitic but wanting to destroy the state of Israel and doing it in no small part by funding activities around places including college campuses,” Issa said. “We need to fully fund investigations into the funding that goes to anti-Semitism into a pattern that we see here today. I want to say to all of you who are both young Americans for Freedom and non YAF members, thank you for standing up to be conservatives on campus and taking it.”
Ogrydziak, who has faced threats and protests from fellow students over speakers like Lt. Cornell West and conservative commentator Michael Knowles who his organization Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) invited to speak on Buffalo University’s campus, attempted to begin again several times while protesters shouted “Free Gaza,” “Free Palestine,” and “Palestinians deserve to speak about the genocide of their families.” Police warned the demonstrators to sit down or they would be arrested.
“Palestinian students should not be censured. You want to talk about putting money where your mouth is? There are 10,000, over 10,000 Gazans dead,” another demonstrator shouted.
Demonstrators continued to interrupt other witnesses and be escorted out of the hearing, which Jordan opened the hearing by citing the Anti-Defamation League has tracked a 400% increase in Anti-Semitic incidents, including harassment, vandalism and assault, in the two weeks after Hamas terrorists’ Oct. 7 attack on Israeli citizens.
Ranking member Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., also cited how in the year prior to the October 7 assault, the ADL also recorded antisemitic activity rising by 41%. Nadler apologized directly to one of the witnesses, Cornell student Amanda Silberstein, after law enforcement at the Ivy League school in New York arrested a student for allegedly making violent threats against Jews on an Internal message board, including to shoot, slit the throats of and rape Jewish students on campus.
“I am sorry that you and the Jewish community at Cornell have had to endure these threats simply for being who you are,” Nadler said. “And I am sorry for the fear they have caused you and your fellow students. It is unacceptable. We must do better. There is no excuse for that kind of violence at any school against any student. And then academic discussion about the First Amendment is mostly beside the point until we can secure these campuses.”