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Protesters Force Rescheduling of Republican Event

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Houston Young Republicans logo | Image by Houston Young Republicans/Facebook

The Houston Young Republicans invited an Israeli dignitary to speak before their monthly meeting on Tuesday but were forced to reschedule the event after anti-Israel protesters allegedly threatened to burn down the venue.

Rafael Struve said the purported threats against group members, the speaker, and potentially the general public were too great to ignore in a telephone interview with The Dallas Express.

“What should have been a very routine event very quickly escalated,” Struve said. “On the day of the event, our initial venue backed out because they received very aggressive, targeted calls threatening boycott and saying they would never set foot in the establishment again.”

After the first venue backed out, the group scrambled to find another location. After identifying a place that would work, Struve said the group sent out an email but did not advertise the event on social media to avoid drawing the attention of protesters.

“Unfortunately, it seems like there is somebody in our email list just to get opposition votes,” Struve said. “This time, the safety concerns were just too significant to ignore. The venue staff were getting calls that were much more intimidating, saying they would burn the building. At that point, we realized this goes beyond people hooting and hollering; this is now a public safety concern.”

Livia Link-Raviv, a consul general for Israel based in Houston, was the special guest speaker for the event. Struve said that rather than canceling the opportunity to hear from Link-Raviv, the threats have only reinforced the importance of allowing free speech in the minds of his organization.

“This goes beyond Israel. It is imperative to allow for free speech to happen, but once that is threatened with something that could put at risk, not just the speaker but our members and guests… We are talking about bullhorns versus burning the building down,” Struve said.

He said that in his experience with the Houston Young Republicans, he has never seen backlash like this.

“I think it’s folks who are sympathetic to the Palestinian perspective, but I think in doing so have their judgment clouded,” Struve said. “Emotions tend to cloud judgment, and I think that is when fanaticism starts to take hold and when people have these more radical sympathies.”

The group has even received some backlash from other right-leaning groups.

“On our side of the aisle, we have seen a little bit of backlash in the sense that there have been people saying that we were bending the knee, saying this was a weak response,” he said.

The group plans to hold the event in the future in spite of the threats that appear to be continuing.

“This was a thinly veiled threat, but somebody said, ‘We are going to have the event, and it is going to be bigger and better,’ and somebody said, ‘Try to,’ and then they put a kissy-face emoji,” Struve said. “This group is determined to make sure we don’t host it, but we are not going to back down; whatever it takes, this event will take place. In fact, this has only strengthened our resolve.”

“What makes the United States historically unique is that our country was founded on the bedrock principles of constructive disagreement, viewpoint diversity, and the ability to express these views,” Struve said. “Unfortunately, now we have seen this indoctrination going on, and now we are in this very dangerous environment where there have been these false narratives being promoted.”

He said state and national Republican leaders reached out to the group, offering support to help it hold the event. He also noted that a local Democrat group that supports Israel reached out and said they had received similar backlash.

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