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Students gather outside Hillel in protest of Israeli officer’s visit

Demonstrators hold moments of silence, BSI expresses disappointment for protest

<p>The protest lasted approximately one hour.</p>

The protest lasted approximately one hour.

Approximately 60 students gathered outside of the Brown-RISD Hillel on Wednesday evening to protest an event hosted by Brown Students for Israel featuring a conversation with Yuval Klein, a search and rescue and intelligence officer for the Israeli Defense Forces.

The gathered protesters, who were affiliated with the student groups Jews for Ceasefire Now and Students for Justice in Palestine, held posters that listed the names of Palestinians who were killed in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. Protesters also read some of the names aloud and donned keffiyehs.

JFCN member Rafi Ash ’26 said that the event was “celebrating murder and genocide.”

In an ongoing case before the United Nations International Court of Justice, South Africa alleged that Israel is enacting “acts and omissions” that are “genocidal in character … (against) the Palestinian national, racial and ethnic group,” the BBC previously reported.


Through the event, Ash said the protesters were “holding moments of silence and were honoring the dead.”

Brown-RISD Hillel director Rabbi Joshua Bolton wrote in a message to The Herald that “at some point, students on either side of this debate — just like Israelis and Palestinians — are going to have to learn to speak with one another, to learn from one another and find points of commonality.”

“The ideological all-or-nothing-ism is counter to the spirit of the University and ultimately makes campus a less joyous, safe and thoughtful place,” he wrote.

According to a BSI statement by Brooke Verschleiser ’25, the group’s president, Klein was in Israel “in the wake of October 7th” and previously served in Turkey after the 2023 earthquake. Klein has also made visits to other college campuses around the United States.

“As a research and rescue officer in the Israeli Defense Forces, Yuval Klein saved countless lives in rescue missions to Florida, Turkey and Israel,” the statement reads. “We are profoundly disappointed that students decided to demonize and mischaracterize his story, instead of taking the time to listen to it.”

Students from inside Hillel gathered on the rooftop prior to the event, which began at 6:30 p.m., observing the protesters and playing Israeli music.

At approximately 6:45 p.m., a counter-protester parked next to the demonstration and loudly played “Am Yisrael Chai,” or “The Nation of Israel Lives,” a song by Eyal Golan, a popular Israeli singer. The counter-protester left after speaking with a Providence Police officer shortly after arriving.

The demonstration concluded with a moment of silence by protestors before they proceeded to Faunce Arch and dispersed.


Owen Dahlkamp

Owen Dahlkamp is a Section Editor overseeing coverage for University News and Science & Research. Hailing from San Diego, CA, he is concentrating in political science and cognitive neuroscience with an interest in data analytics. In his free time, you can find him making spreadsheets at Dave’s Coffee.

Katie Jain

Katie Jain is a University News editor from New Jersey overseeing the graduate student life beat. She is a junior concentrating in International and Public Affairs and History.

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