University of Michigan grad says anti-Israel disruption at commencement was 'my biggest fear' for months

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Anti-Israel protesters marred what should have been a celebratory event on Saturday during a commencement ceremony at the University of Michigan, as they voiced antisemitic chants and tried to disrupt speakers, one graduate said. 

The event at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor turned chaotic when a group of roughly 50 protesters displaying Palestinian flags and chanting antisemitic slogans marched toward the stage as U.S. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro was speaking and addressing newly commissioned officers. 

They were greeted by a chorus of boos from the thousands in attendance.  

In addition, planes flew overhead displaying pro-Palestinian slogans and some of the protesters wore keffiyehs, clothing that has become a symbol of Palestinian solidarity, said Benny Shaevsky, who graduated Saturday from the university’s Ross School of Business. Law enforcement confronted the protesters and pushed them toward the back where they stayed for the rest of the event, he told Fox News Digital. 

UNC FRATERNITY BROTHERS DEFEND REINSTATED AMERICAN FLAG FROM CAMPUS MOB WHO REPLACED WITH PALESTINIAN FLAG

“They were screaming the whole time. I couldn’t hear anything,” Shaevsky said. “I had to be moved to a different seat because I missed half of the commencement speakers because of this.” 

Shaevsky, who yelled at the protesters to leave, said he didn’t see any of them being arrested. On its website, the school announced restrictions that include a “prohibition of banners, flags and anything that obstructs sightlines.”

Fox News Digital has reached out to the university. 

Like other universities, Michigan has had to contend with anti-Israel protests on campus amid clashes between demonstrators and authorities as well as vandalism. 

“I’m truly disturbed. These people have been causing chaos on my campus for what seems like a couple of months, but particularly the last two weeks with their massive encampment,” Shaevsky said. “I see these people in the encampment. They’re not students.”

Graduating from Michigan has been a lifelong goal for Shaevsky, who said he loves the school’s storied football team, the reigning national champions. 

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Protest at UMich

“This was my biggest fear for the last several months. I’ve wanted to graduate from Michigan my entire life and to see it being disrupted in the way that I feared, it was emotional,” he said. 

Saturday’s protest came amid a crackdown on similar demonstrations at universities across the country, including the University of Michigan. The university said it respects free speech, but that school administrators would take steps to “de-escalate and address” interruptions to the commencement ceremony.

That didn’t happen on Saturday, Shaevsky said, while calling for officials to take a stronger stand on chaotic and destructive behavior on campus. 

UNC FRATERNITY BROTHERS DEFEND REINSTATED AMERICAN FLAG FROM CAMPUS MOB WHO REPLACED WITH PALESTINIAN FLAG

“I believe in free speech for these people even though I vehemently disagree with what they’re saying, but there’s a time, a place and manner to do that,” he said. “Today would have been outside of the stadium in designated protest areas. These people did not follow that.”

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