Nov. 8 (UPI) -- Several pro-Palestine demonstrators were removed from Wednesday's House Judiciary Committee hearing on free speech on college campuses.
Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, remarked that a sharp increase in anti-Semitism on college campuses calls for more to be done to protect students. He said conservative students and speakers also have been harassed and otherwise silenced.
The hearing, according to the committee, was called to "examine the current state of the First Amendment on the campuses of American colleges and universities."
Before the first witness could begin their opening statement, six protesters were removed by law enforcement officers for standing up and shouting.
"End the occupation. Cease fire now," one protester shouted.
"How did speaking up against genocide become anti-Semitism," another yelled while holding a sign that read, "Free speech includes Palestinians."
The House voted Tuesday to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the only Palestinian American in Congress, in response to comments she made in support of Palestinian people. Her comments were viewed by Israel supporters as anti-Semitic, given the emotionally charged language and wording she used.
Several more members of the gallery sat behind the witnesses Wednesday with tape over their mouths or headbands that read "Gaza." As the first witness, Connor Ogrydziak -- a former chairman of the Young Americans for Freedom at Buffalo -- spoke, the remaining demonstrators held up their red paint-covered hands.
Ogrydziak and the second witness, Iowa Young Americans for Freedom Jasmyn Jordan, testified that people with conservative opinions are treated unfairly on campus for "holding opposing views."
"Conservatives are slandered by students and faculty as harmful," Jordan said. "Conservatives often have to hide who they are and what they believe in so that they do not lose relationships or receive a lower grade or face constant doxxing, harassment, intimidation or threats."
Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., asked for Republicans to support fully funding the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights and other measures to combat anti-Semitism that have been proposed by President Joe Biden. He said Republicans have proposed "slashing" the office's budget.
Rep. Becca Balint, D-Vt., agreed that funding the office is a "clear policy solution to combating the rise of anti-Semitism and other abhorrent discrimination."
"Budgets are a statement of your values," she said. "How we spend money demonstrates what we really care about."