A talk by an Israeli diplomat at the University of California, Davis on Monday was disrupted by pro-Palestinian protesters, The Algemeinerhas learned. After unfurling a large banner across the room, the demonstrators chanted “Long live the intifada,” and other slogans, then exited the premises.
George Deek, an Israeli Arab Christian, was speaking on “The Art of Middle East Diplomacy,” when some 30 people moved to the front and sides of the room, according to witnesses and video of the event.
Completely obscuring Deek from the audience, they unfurled an enormous banner across the front of the room that read “1948=1492,” referring to the years of the Israeli War of Independence and the year in which both Columbus discovered America and the Jews were expelled from Spain.
They then began chanting anti-Israel slogans. Upon their exit, they yelled “Allahu Akbar!”
Someone present at the event told The Algemeiner that “there were roughly a dozen uniformed police … They were inside the room, guarding the doors leading in, and patrolling the area around the building. They also escorted Mr. Deek and the pro-Israel students back to the UC Davis Hillel, and waited until everyone had a safe way of getting to their next destination.”
The group responsible for the disruption later issued a statement that reads, in part:
Today, UC Davis students, alumni, and members of the broader community came together in response to the presence of George Deek — a so-called “Arab-Israeli” diplomat — on our campus…
We felt a responsibility to reject the Zionist agenda that George Deek furthers — a settler-colonial agenda that is xenophobic, Islamophobic, and anti-Black … We did not participate within the established framework of the event because we are aware of how discourses about “dialogue” and “democracy” function to silence anti-Zionist voices. We recognize that Israel’s voice is already over-represented … and refuse to provide the State another platform through which to normalize colonial violence. We have no more “tolerance” for Israeli propaganda.
George Deek, a self-identified Israeli born to a Palestinian family, perfectly embodies the project of Zionist liberal-democracy, which seeks to assimilate Palestinians into non-existence …
We, therefore, are opposed to entities that impose or directly enable these injustices to persist, and we will not tolerate or allow for such people to have a platform to speak on our campus, nor will we engage in pseudo “dialogue” with them.
Deek rose to prominence as the Deputy Chief of Mission at Israel’s embassy in Norway from 2012-2015, where he was also chargé d’affaires through much of 2014. As the highest-ranked Israeli diplomat in Norway during Operation Protective Edge — Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza — he was responsible for telling Israel’s side of the story there, often to hostile audiences. Shortly afterward, he began sharing his personal story more widely, presenting his perspective as a Christian, an Arab and an Israeli. He was profiled in 2015 in the Jewish periodical Tablet, and was selected by The Algemeiner as one of the “top 100 people positively influencing Jewish life” of 2014.
His talk at UC Davis was sponsored by the student group, Aggies for Israel, which promoted the event as follows:
[Mr. Deek] talks about a lot of things — geopolitical history, current events, etc. — but the overall theme is why he identifies as an Arab Israeli and not as a Palestinian refugee. He uses his family’s history to weave a story through generations of Arab-Israeli history, ending in present day with what he thinks is possible for the next generation.
When reached for comment Tuesday morning, Mr. Deek, who hails from Jaffa, responded, “Right now my thoughts and prayers are where it matters — with my family, friends and neighbor’s in Jaffa, after another tragic stabbing attack.”
Tuesday in Jaffa and Tel Aviv a Palestinian terrorist killed an American tourist, and wounded 10 other people in a stabbing spree, as reported by The Algemeiner.
The Algemeiner reached out to the UC Davis administration and security services to inquire whether disrupting public lectures was permissible on campus, and whether any disciplinary action would be taken, and received this response from their media relations department:
Aggies for Israel invited the public to this meeting … While there was an interruption at the beginning of the meeting, the group disbursed within a few minutes without incident, and the speaker was able to deliver a talk without interruption. Security was present at the meeting. The safety of our campus community is always our highest concern, and at no time did it appear that any physical altercations occurred … There were no further interruptions or incidents…
Watch the video of the disruption of Deek’s lecture below: