About 20 minutes after David Horowitz began speaking Monday, nearly all the students in attendance walked out of Hamilton Hall in protest.
The action came in response to what participants said were slanderous remarks about Muslims and members of Arab nations.
Committee for a Better Carolina, along with Christians United for Israel, sponsored Horowitz to speak at UNC in a lecture titled “Why Israel is the Victim in the Middle East.”
Horowitz is a pro-Israel activist who has been the subject of controversy in the past for buying anti-Palestine ads in college newspapers.
In Monday’s lecture, Horowitz argued that Palestine is trying to destroy Israel and that Israel fights back only in self-defense.
Horowitz criticized groups like the Muslim Students Association, linking them to various terrorist groups. He also compared Muslims to Nazis.
“There are good Muslims and there are bad Muslims,” he said. “But there were good Germans too, and in the end they didn’t make a damn difference.”
Student Congress granted Committee for a Better Carolina $7,000 in student fees to bring Horowitz to campus. The event was attended by about 150 people.
Mariem Masmoudi, co-founder of UNC’s Israeli-Palestinian Dialogue Committee, said Horowitz’s remarks hinder efforts to foster peace in the Middle East.
“It’s just completely insulting and destructive,” she said.
Masmoudi said she supported his right to speak on campus but protested his ideas by participating in the walk-out.
“The intention is to demonstrate that we went and listened and didn’t protest your right to speak, but to show that what you say offends every fiber of our beings,” she said.
Horowitz said the walk-out was reflective of a totalitarian mindset.
“It’s important to have a dialogue,” he said. “The most important thing is that you get to hear two sides and weigh them without feeling pressure to choose one side or another.”
Brandon Hartness, president of Committee for a Better Carolina, said the group’s goal was to provide a different viewpoint on the conflict.
“I want people to get an alternative view to what they hear on campus — that Israel is an apartheid state, a terrorist state,” Hartness said.
“We should actually be standing behind Israel rather than railing against them as it seems to be happening on campus.”
Hartness said his group wants to increase students’ understanding of the Israeli state and faith, and that he was disappointed protesters didn’t stay to hear what Horowitz had to say.
Tariq Luthun, a junior psychology major who participated in the walk-out, said the issue wasn’t about protesters not listening.
“We sat there and listened to him before we walked out,” he said. “It’s a symbolic protest of him and what he stands for.”
Leaders of Jewish and of Muslim student groups said the atmosphere at UNC is inclusive.
Josh Orol, co-president of UNC Hillel, said Hillel has a very close relationship with UNC’s Muslim Students Association.
“There is no space in our campus dialogue for generalizations and discrimination,” he said.
Staff Writer Kelly Williamson contributed reporting.
Contact the University Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.