UF Responds to Anti-Semitic Incident

Published: Nov. 23, 2019 at 12:14 AM EST
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Another speaker invited to speak at the University of Florida is at the center of controversy. A month after Donald Trump Junior's appearance generated strong reactions from students, a member of the Israeli Defense Force also brought out protestors.

Both the protest organizer and IDF member said they do not hold harsh feelings towards one another as this is not a problem that boils down to a personal level.

Yoni Michanie is a Campus Advisor for the organization "Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting And Analysis". He said during his speech at the University of Florida he was called anti-semitic terms and Israeli Defense Soldiers were referred to as war criminals.

" I also did see a specific flyer that compared Nazi Germany to modern state Israelis or something like that on the second one. I don't exactly remember the way it was worded but it was also uttered to me as they were leaving," said Michanie. "What I would say to them as I respond is that there were nearly a hundred students. And I don't believe that the comments that were made were something that the protestors necessarily orchestrated."

Laila Fakhoury is the President of Students For Justice in Palestine and the protest organizer. She says her organization handed out two pre-approved flyers and none of the members referred to Michanie in a derogatory manner.

" He was the one that first said that we called him a Nazi, war criminal, and colonialists that he put on his own social media. We never said anything about that in fact, our organization led a silent protest," said Fakhoury.

The University of Florida issued a statement that said this incident, " illustrates behavior that is directly at odds with our campus values."

One thing Fakhoury said is that they don't have any personal issues with the speaker who came to campus...

"So with pro-Palestine causes, we are never really targeting people, it's targeting the state of Israel," said Fakhoury. "So I don't have any personal issues with him as a human being, because again our organization we see people as people. And our most important thing is valuing humans as humans."

Michanie echoed the same messaged about the protesters.

"No, I don't, I don't hold any personal feelings in any negative context towards the protestors. I do feel disappointed somewhat that they didn't stay in the room and they judged my character, my story and to some extent my morality as a human being by making that decision to storm out before I could even introduce myself and the work that I do," said Michanie.

A representative of the university Steve Orlando said that while these words may be disrespectful this is an act protected under the first amendment. He said the university is a free-speech campus.

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