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Posted on: March 14, 2024, 11:40h. 

Last updated on: March 14, 2024, 11:57h.

Numerous voices have criticized protestors who shut down a UNLV lecture by an Israeli physicist last month, and questioned the university’s response.

Asaf Pe’er
Asaf Pe’er, an Israeli physicist, speaks at UNLV. Moments later, anti-Israeli protestors shut down the talk. (Image: Yahoo)

The professor, Asaf Pe’er, was speaking for about 15 minutes on the subject of black holes on February 27.

The talk came to a halt after protestors, many holding anti-Israeli signs, stormed the lecture room and created a ruckus.

Not Welcome on Campus

“You are not welcome on the UNLV campus,” one protestor shouted at the professor.

“Here’s a relevant discussion. There’s no hospitals. There’s no ambulances. Do you know how women, men, fathers, families are decimated because of your government,” another protestor yelled out. The comment came regarding Israel’s military response in Gaza after the raid by by Hamas fighters in October.

UNLV police were alerted to the disruption. Rather than the demonstrators getting forced out of the room, the lecture was canceled.

I don’t think that this is acceptable in any way in academia or anywhere,” Pe’er, who’s an associate professor in the physics department at Israel’s Bar Ilan University, later told Las Vegas TV station KLAS.

He said he told the protestors he understood their wish to protest, “but this has nothing to do with it. This is a scientific event. I was asked by the physics department to talk about a physics subject,” Pe’er said.

Since the disrupted lecture, the Anti-Defamation League – Desert Region, Jewish Nevada, and the Israeli American Council wrote to UNLV President Keith Whitfield.

Targeting Was Outrageous

“The targeting of an Israeli Professor simply for his national origin is outrageous — Professor Pe’er was not on campus speaking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the Israel-Hamas war. Rather, he was speaking to a physics class on his subject matter expertise — which has nothing to do with the conflict,” the letter stated.

UNLV issued a statement to Casino.org on Wednesday about the controversy and detailed the events.

“After conferring with University Police, UNLV faculty decided to pause the lecture by Prof. Asaf Peer as a result of the interruptions. Even though the professor said he never felt unsafe, University Police, as a precaution only, accompanied him as he left the building. Prof. Peer was able to complete his lecture virtually later that day. Two days later, the professor was able to give a second in-person lecture on campus that was not interrupted.”

UNLV is reviewing its actions to better handle such situations in the future, according to the statement. UNLV’s Office of Student Conduct is also reviewing video and images from the incident to see if any actions reached the level of misconduct.

The UNLV chapter of Nevadans for Palestinian Liberation posted a video of the incident. It also posted comments, including “We believe in the university’s mission of #UNLVStrong in their promise to create and maintain an academic environment free from the threatening presence of hatred in all forms.”

Nearby, at the University of California, Berkeley, the recent cancellation of a lecture by an Israeli human rights attorney is being reviewed by university and federal officials. Two students attending the lecture reportedly were injured. Glass on the building where the lecture was held was smashed in by protestors.

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