Omar slams UCLA for failing to protect anti-Israel protesters

She also brushed off concerns about a video that shows anti-Israel protesters blocking a Jewish student wearing a Star of David necklace from walking on campus.

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., speaks during Thursday's congressional hearing on antisemitism on college campuses. (C-SPAN)

(The Daily Signal) — As three college presidents testified about antisemitism amid anti-Israel protests and riots on their campuses, a prominent House Democrat brushed off concerns about a Jewish student’s inability to walk on a path at the University of California at Los Angeles and went on to fault UCLA for not protecting anti-Israel protesters.

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., responded to a video in which anti-Israel protesters blocked a Jewish student wearing a Star of David necklace from walking on campus.

Omar asked UCLA Chancellor Gene Block whether the student would still be able to access the campus via other routes.

“Chancellor Block, just for clarification, that video we just watched, we saw people moving around,” she said. “Was it possible, do you think, for that student to be able to get into campus? Was that student actually being blocked from entering campus?”

“Well, that was in the middle of campus,” Block responded. “They’re not being blocked from being on campus, maybe being blocked from a pathway on campus.”

“He should be allowed to pass,” the chancellor added. “I mean, any part of campus is open to students, so blocking him was really inappropriate.”

Omar went on to condemn Block’s administration, claiming UCLA failed to adequately protect the anti-Israel protesters.

Anti-Israel protesters had established an encampment outside UCLA’s Royce Hall for a week until authorities declared it an unlawful assembly and arrested more than 200 people.

Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., slammed UCLA’s leaders for having “allowed their campus to become a severe and pervasive, hostile environment for Jewish students, standing by as students, faculty, and affiliates were assaulted and harassed.”

“For days, the unlawful encampment’s checkpoints illegally denied students access to campus buildings,” the North Carolina lawmaker added.

Foxx claimed that “Jewish students were attacked, harassed, and intimidated for walking on their own campus” and students were “denied a safe and uninterrupted learning environment.”

Omar referenced reports that UCLA campus police failed to intervene in an April 30 incident between the encamped protesters and a group that attacked them. The assailants reportedly beat protesters, hitting them with poles, spraying chemical irritants, and setting off fireworks.

CNN claimed it identified two of the assailants, who support Israel. The day after the attack, the UCLA chapter of the Jewish student group Hillel denounced “fringe members of the off-campus Jewish community,” urging them to “stay off our campus,” and warning that their “actions are harming Jewish students.”

Block announced on May 6 that a UCLA campus safety officer had launched a law enforcement investigation to identify the perpetrators of the violence and to hold them to account. The Los Angeles Police Department assigned a detective to assist those efforts, and the FBI may also help. The chancellor also said UCLA spoke to Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, asking him to help ensure “that the instigators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Block also announced that campus safety officers would conduct an overall analysis of “all acts of violence over the last 12 days, including those against counterprotesters.”

UCLA reassigned John Thomas, the campus police chief, on Wednesday. Critics faulted Thomas for failing to intervene during the April 30 attack.

“You could have prevented this by protecting the diverse groups of pro-Palestinian students that were peacefully gathered on campus to share meals set in solidarity against the brutal genocide,” Omar said Thursday. “You could have prevented this by protecting these students’ First Amendment right to assemble.”

Omar also faulted UCLA for failing to act “when there was an anonymous group funded, [which] constructed a giant video with loudspeakers to play vile and disturbing footage,” an apparent reference to pro-Israel counterprotesters who set up a screen playing footage of the brutal Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel on Oct. 7.

“You could have prevented this when you saw an angry mob on campus on the night of April 30, but you did not,” the Minnesota Democrat added. “Instead, you, the UCLA leadership and law enforcement, stood by for hours as the mob of agitators gathered near the encampment with a clear intention to cause violence.”

Omar concluded her remarks by asking, “How did you fail the students at many critical points where you could have intervened?”

“Thank you for the question, but I’m sorry, I reject the premise,” Block responded.

Omar interrupted him, asking, “Are these pictures lying? Are any of these people in jail?”

“Can I finish my statement?” he asked.

“No,” Omar replied. “Are any of these people in jail?”

The Los Angeles Police Department is “working on trying to identify the people who were assailants that evening,” the chancellor said.

He noted that “this encampment was against policy, this violated time, place, and manner.” Even so, he said, “We tried to get police there as quickly as possible.”

Block testified alongside Michael Schill, president of Northwestern University, and Jonathan Holloway, the president of Rutgers University.

Anti-Israel protests have taken place at campuses throughout the country, often involving reported harassment of Jewish students.

This article was originally published at The Daily Signal


Tyler O'Neil

Tyler O'Neil is managing editor of The Daily Signal and the author of "Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center."