Radical Leftists Tell Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat “You Have No Right To Free Speech”

Last night, the Zionist student group Im Tirzu hosted a talk with Jerusalem’s mayor Nir Barkat at Hebrew University. The goal of the talk was to discuss the unification of Jerusalem in light of its upcoming 50th anniversary.

Instead, this happened:


A small but relentless group of radical leftist students and professors belonging to the Free Jerusalem and Meretz student groups began shouting down Barkat the second he opened his mouth, and wouldn’t stop until the police finally came, 45 minutes later.

One of the first things they said, as a preamble to why they felt the need to execute this protest, was “You have no right to speak because you are a racist.” It made me realize just how far leftism had gone from true liberalism.

Dudi Eltsufin, head of the Jerusalem Chapter of the organization, who was instrumental in planning the event, told everyone to address their grievances politely, at the end of the talk. They continued to yell, scream, and, according to Dudi, even got violent.

Radical leftist activist relentlessly disrupt Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat’s talk. Credit: Moishe Stainmetz

Not one of the leftists went to challenge Barkat in person as we waited for the police to come, and they had the opportunity because plenty of other people came up to talk to him. It was clear they just wanted to make a scene, rather than make Israel better as they claim they are doing.


These protestors, who mostly shouted about the “occupation” and their opposition to demolishing the homes of terrorists, seemed more than eager to give up Israel to appease our enemies around the world into loving us. As a new olah, it upset me greatly that these people are so spoiled and privileged that they don’t realize how many of the world’s Jews literally have nowhere else to go. They strive for absolute instead of relative morality without realizing that it’s totally inapplicable in the real world and that they have no clear solutions. They also don’t realize that we live in a different neighbourhood and can’t get away with being as “civilized” as Europe or America (who, by the way, engage in more brutal military tactics than Israel ever did) without completely giving up everything.

I think my biggest issue with the radical left is that they live in a fantasy world and want to stay there because they think it’s good for them. They wax poetic about changing the world and reducing inequality without thinking about the source of the inequality: which is the Palestinian leadership’s refusal to negotiate under terms that don’t necessarily mean the end of Israel, and wasting so much money on terror while their people suffer due to a well-deserved lack of trust.

These these leftists were raised with such a lack of connection to their Judaism and country that they simply believe that America and Europe are so great, they’ll just let Israelis in, and it would be way more ethical as Palestinians would get “their land back.” Yes, “their land” because if the underdog says so it must be true. (Truth is, the only time Israel was a mother country rather than a colony in an empire was when it belonged to the Jews, but heaven forbid we confuse them with the facts).

They haven’t lived enough in the diaspora to realize that it’s not going to happen. The diaspora always turned on us in history, no matter how enlightened the society claimed or appeared to be. What makes them think they’ll stop now?  That’s why it’s so important we have Israel, but the fact that it’s our ancestral and indigenous homeland – not the Arabs’ who were colonisers from Arabia and surrounding countries – seals the deal.

For all the chants of “racist” by the naive Meretz supporters, Barkat’s talk, which began after 45 minutes of disruption until the police removed them forcibly, was about peace, inclusion of minorities, and coexistence.  Sadly, none of the leftists stayed behind to ask him challenging questions. Heaven forbid they have their precious worldview shattered.

I go to anti-Israel talks and ask probing questions all the time. I see a lot of Zionists do the same at these talks. The fact that the other side is too afraid of doing the same to us means they’re so addicted to the glory and love they get from haters for going against their people, that they wouldn’t accept the truth if it slapped them in the face. Had they been confident that their side is the side of truth, they would have been certain that their challenging questions would fluster him and would feel no shame in asking them and engaging in discourse with him. The fact they refuse to engage in discourse, to me, can only mean one thing: they know they’re wrong. They’re just addicted to pretending they have the moral upper hand by striving for absolute (brainless) “morality” that can’t actually be applied in real life instead of relative morality like the rest of us, the relative morality that is necessary for our survival. Shattering that illusion will destroy their fragile self-esteems, so instead of seeking truth they make sure it never comes out, otherwise they know it will make them look bad.

However there is some good news. These Jewish leftists are a tiny minority, not only at Hebrew U but especially in all of Israel. Out of 120 seats, Meretz only has 5.

There is even better news. While the students at Columbia who disrupted Barkat’s speech last year were far more polite than these folks (I never thought I would say that!) Im Tirzu knows what it means to be an unapologetic Zionist, more so than any other student group I’ve ever seen. The other pro-Israel groups I’ve seen are weak in comparison because at the back of their minds is the internalized diaspora mentality that Jews need to know “our place” and not rock the boat. Here, there was none of that.

After several minutes of Dudi trying to convince them to either stay for questions or leave, I got fed up at them screaming in my face. I yelled in Hebrew “traitors! You disgust me!” at them. I knew that if I were part of SSI or any other Jewish organization, I would have been kicked off the executive board and severely reprimanded for being rude. I was wearing my Im Tirzu t-shirt so I was representing them as an executive at the Jerusalem branch of the organization. I braced myself for trouble, but instead of that, they joined me. Chants (in Hebrew) of “why aren’t you ashamed? You support terrorists!” began among my fellow blue shirts that proudly and unapologetically displayed Herzl’s face. These men, not diaspora Jews who fear their own shadow, are Herzl’s dream. At the end of the talk, Im Tirzu leaders praised us for standing up for ourselves and not returning the violence the haters tried to initiate. This pride is what should be coming to the diaspora: if diaspora Jews had more confidence in what they were saying and doing and weren’t apologetic, like the Im Tirzu activists who refused to compromise with those who wish to deny us self-determination and want no middle ground, people would take them more seriously.



Lex is a trained comedy actor who is Montreal's second-favourite export aside from poutine.

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