Bernie Sanders event interrupted by BDS protestors: “It’s not a horror, it’s a genocide”

Gardaí arrived to the event following multiple interruptions by protestors both inside and outside the Exam Hall

A panel discussion with US Senator Bernie Sanders was interrupted multiple times by protestors demanding he call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

The American senator spoke at the Exam Hall on Front Square in a discussion with Irish journalist Fintan O’Toole to promote.

Before the event, protestors gathered outside the building calling Sanders a “zionist” and accusing him of supporting the genocide in Gaza.

Some people queuing for the event who thought criticism of Sanders was unwarranted booed at the protestors before entering the Exam Hall.

During the panel discussion, chants and alarms from protestors continued as Sanders and O’Toole discussed his political career and class struggles in America.

Sanders referenced “the situation in Israel” during the discussion, while O’Toole said the senator cancelled events in England earlier this week to vote against sending aid to Israel.

Towards the end of the event, one audience member stood up and asked why Sanders had not called for a ceasefire in Gaza and began approaching the stage.

Photo by Ellen Kenny for Trinity News

While she was stopped by security, Sanders said he had previously talked about his “views on Gaza” and said he was doing “everything [he] can”, to which another audience member yelled: “No you’re not.”

Following multiple people calling for a ceasefire, the senator said you can “call [for] whatever you want” and said he believed the “best role” he can play is blocking aid to Israel.

He said: “My dream would be if [US President] Joe Biden woke up tomorrow to what I think the American people want, not all but many, and to say, ‘You know what Mr. Netanyahu? You’re not getting another nickel’.”

Sanders noted the US gives Israel $3.5bn a year in aid and that he voted against a bill to send the country $14bn for military assistance.

Photo by Ellen Kenny for Trinity News

“You’ve got to stop that damn war tomorrow and start treating the Palestinian people with the respect and dignity they deserve,” he said.

“Can I do any more? Can others do any more? I don’t know.

“I am more than aware of 27,000 people being killed, two-thirds of them [being] women and children, 70,000 people being wounded [and] of 75% of the housing being damaged or destroyed.”

Sanders said “it is a horror… believe me, I know” to which one person shouted: “It is not a horror, it is a genocide.”

Sanders concluded by saying “people can believe it or not, I’m trying to do my best to end that horror”, before being applauded by the audience.

At the end of the panel discussion, protestors waited outside the exit where a car was waiting to escort Sanders off campus, delaying his departure.

Over a dozen Gardaí arrived on campus, forming a blockade in front of Sanders’ car at the side of the Exam Hall.

Photo by Stephen Conneely for Trinity News

As he was driven away, protestors chanted, “Bernie Sanders you can’t hide, you’re supporting genocide” and “ceasefire now”.

Sanders declined to comment to Trinity News: “Do I have anything more to say? You’ve got it I think.”

Ellen Kenny

Ellen Kenny is the current Deputy Editor of Trinity News and a Senior Sophister student of Politics and Sociology. She previously served as Assistant Editor and Features Editor

Kate Henshaw

Kate Henshaw is current Editor-in-Chief of Trinity News, and a graduate of Sociology and Social Policy. She previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.