(JTA) — A dispute between right-wing and left-wing Israel activists in Berkeley, Calif., resulted in a physical altercation involving pepper spray, police and paramedics.
On Sunday, activists from San Francisco Voice for Israel/StandWithUs disrupted a meeting of Jewish Voice for Peace at the South Berkeley Senior Center, heckling speakers. One StandWithUs activist, Robin Dubner of Oakland, used pepper spray against two Jewish Voice for Peace members. The Jewish Voice for Peace members said the spraying was unprovoked, but Dubner said she sprayed because she was physically attacked.
Berkeley Police and paramedics were called to the scene, but no arrests were made.
More than 50 people were in attendance at an evening meeting featuring as speakers Bay Area residents Rae Abileah and Matthew Taylor, two of the five Jewish Voice for Peace protesters who heckled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at last week’s General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America in New Orleans.
Michael Harris, a leader with San Francisco Voice for Israel/StandWithUs, said the disruption of a Jewish Voice for Peace meeting was something he and his colleagues had never done before, but chose to do so “because they were having this celebration of heckling Netanyahu. Since they decided this was acceptable political discourse, we decided to do the same thing."
Harris said that he and his nine fellow protesters acted as individuals and not as part of an organized StandWithUs action.
Last month, the Anti-Defamation League included Berkeley-based Jewish Voice for Peace on its list of influential anti-Israel groups in the United States.