By Jennifer Gable

For The Diamondback

Student protesters supporting Palestine interrupted Rep. Jamie Raskin’s lecture on democracy at the University of Maryland on Thursday.

Raskin (D-Md.) was slated to deliver the physics department’s annual Irving and Renee Milchberg Endowed Lecture. Howard Milchberg, a physics and electrical and computer engineering professor at this university, established the lecture series in 2019 to honor his late parents, who survived the Holocaust.

Raskin’s speech on the role of critical thinking and reason in democracy turned into a heated discussion after attendees in the crowd stood up shouting, “Raskin, Raskin you can’t hide, you are complicit in genocide.”

Protesters interrupted Raskin at several points to call for a ceasefire in Palestine. His speech was cut short as heated exchanges ensued.

“I’m a little bit disappointed in today’s generation of hecklers because they just want to drown out the speech and not engage in a conversation,” Raskin said as some protesters walked out. “I would have loved to invite them to have a conversation with me about what they were saying.”

Earlier this month, Raskin removed his name from a resolution supporting Palestine in the U.S. House of Representatives. The resolution would affirm Palestine’s right to exist and recognize a “two-state solution as the only solution that will secure a lasting peace.” Several protesters at the lecture Thursday voiced disappointment with Raskin’s removal from the bill, to which he replied that he was added as a co-sponsor without his consent.

[Dozens testify for Maryland General Assembly resolution calling for ceasefire in Gaza]

Ten protesters were removed from the Toll Physics Building by University of Maryland Police and referred to the Office of Student Conduct, according to an email statement from this university. This university and UMPD recorded those students’ names, the statement said.

The protesters were removed after disrupting Raskin and being given two warnings, the statement said.

Multiple protestors declined to be quoted by name in The Diamondback.

Raphi Rose, a senior physics major who protested at the event, said he and his friends decided to protest because the subject of Raskin’s lecture was democracy.

“He has made lip service as far as we can tell towards the people of Palestine while continuing to support the funding towards the Israeli government,” Rose said. “We didn’t think that was very nice as far as democracy is concerned.”

In his lecture, Raskin said he has “repeatedly called for a comprehensive ceasefire,” which he said should begin with Hamas returning the hundreds of Israeli hostages it took during its Oct. 7 attack, a termination of “all military bombardment” and “a surge of humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip.”

University president Darryll Pines and Raskin made multiple calls for civil dialogue as protesters interrupted the lecture.

“The only uncivil thing here is you standing and talking while children are dying and being murdered,” one protester said.

More than 32,000 Palestinians have been killed since October, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

Another protester questioned Raskin’s record of voting to send arms to Israel — a United States policy that has faced criticism from humanitarian organizations.

[UMD students call for end to violence in southern Gaza at demonstration]

“That is fascism, that’s against international order and it’s against international law,” the protester said.

In February, dozens of United Nations experts said further transfer of weapons for Israel to use in Gaza “is likely to violate international humanitarian law and must cease immediately.”

At least one attendee made statements in support of Israel as protestors were speaking.

Pines told The Diamondback that he did not know student demonstrations would occur during the lecture, but that “democracy happens in real time and that is not always perfect.”

“I just felt like all the students had made all their points, and I think he got the message and he tried to respond to them,” Pines said. “It was time to conclude the lecture and let those who wanted to talk about other topics come up and talk to him.”

As Raskin ended his lecture abruptly, he called repeatedly for a “peace movement” and civil discourse.

Raskin said it is important for people with varying perspectives to discuss the violence in Israel and Palestine.

“People have family that are suffering in Gaza. People have family who are hostages on the Israeli side. People are affected by this,” he said. “I don’t begrudge anybody their emotional reaction to the agony that we’ve been living through here, but politically, we need strategic thinking.”

Senior staff writers Marwa Barakat, Shifra Dayak, Akshaj Gaur and Natalie Weger contributed to this story.