Haley spoke Tuesday afternoon in the Student Center South Theater about an array of topics, from leadership to global challenges to recent events in Texas. She spoke of the disaster that befell the city of Houston last August, when Hurricane Harvey dropped an unprecedented amount of rain on the Lone Star State, leaving most of the city under feet of floodwater.
"We saw neighbors helping neighbors, people watching out for each other. Houston gave us all a master class in how to be good citizens and how to be good human beings," Haley said, according to Click2Houston. "I know you've been through a lot and you're dealing with the aftermath, but you should all be very proud of how your community has come through all of this."
She also spoke of the 10 shooting victims from Santa Fe High School earlier this week, a town to the southeast of Houston.
So far, pretty typical for a politician's university speech. But soon, things got interesting.
"I'm here following a very busy few weeks in American foreign policy," Haley began to say.
That's when a protester stood up and shouted at the top of his lungs: "Nikki Haley, the blood is on your hands! You continue to sign off on the genocide of a native people! You are an accomplice to terrorists and colonizers!"
After this monologue, dozens of protesters stood up and erupted in a call-and-answer chant across the auditorium, holding up Palestinian flags. They chanted "Nikki Nikki can't you see? You are on a killing spree!" and "Nikki Haley you can't hide, you signed off on genocide!"
Security personnel more or less immediately responded and attempted to escort the protesters out of the auditorium.
Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at UH, an anti-Zionist, pro-Palestine student advocacy group with branches at colleges and universities across the US and several other countries, issued a statement Monday in anticipation of Haley's speech. However, it is unclear if they or another group was behind the Tuesday protest.
SJP UH slammed Haley for her "spiteful actions before and during her time as ambassador to the United Nations demonstrate her blatant discrimination against Palestinians and blind eye to injustices around the world," noting that she has "worked relentlessly to block the UN Humans Rights investigation into Israel's murderous crimes in Gaza" and that she has a long history and commitment to "silencing the voices of those who have spoken out against Israel's atrocious acts against Palestinians." SJP noted that during her time as governor of South Carolina, Haley spearheaded a law that made South Carolina the second US state to explicitly bar businesses from boycotting Israel under the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) campaign.
"Nikki Haley embodies the racism inherent in the US' anti-Palestinian position," the statement goes on to say. "Her decisions, actions and dehumanization of Palestinian lives show her complicity in the genocide of a native people fighting for liberation. In inviting Nikki Haley to its campus, the University of Houston demonstrates how little it cares about the safety and concerns of its students, including the large community of Palestinians that attend and contribute to UH's diversity."
"We, the undersigned student organizations and faculty, declare unequivocally that hatred in all its forms is not welcome at our university and that no matter when injustice rears its ugly head, those of us on the correct side of history will confront it. We call on the university to signal to its students and the broader community that it is committed to its principles of diversity and inclusion by condemning the presence of Nikki Haley on our campus in light of her recent actions. No matter how blurred the values of our country become, the university must stay true to its values and speak out against all forms of injustice, hatred, and bigotry."
In line with the Trump administration's hostility toward the Palestinian cause, Haley's conduct in the United Nations on the United States' behalf has been similarly bellicose, declaring on December 20, 2017, during a vote in the UN General Assembly on a resolution criticizing US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel earlier that month, that the US "will be taking names" and that Trump had asked her to report back "who voted against us," the BBC reported at the time.The issue of ownership of Jerusalem is highly contentious in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as Palestinians insist that Jerusalem must be the capital of any future Palestinian state.
The war of words continued into 2018, with Haley deriding Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas by declaring his administration "lacks what is needed to achieve peace" in February, the Jerusalem Post reported. Later that month, after a speech before the UN Security Council in which Abbas said the US was "closing the door on a two-state solution" and he called upon UN member states that have not yet recognized Palestine as a state to do so, Abbas notably snubbed the next two speakers, Israel's UN ambassador, Danny Danon, and Haley, the US ambassador, walking out of the council chamber after his remarks were finished.
Haley took the opportunity to return the favor in May: after blaming and condemning Hamas for the violence along the Gaza fence in which thousands of Palestinians were wounded and dozens killed by Israeli gunfire, Haley walked out on Palestinian ambassador to the UN Riyad H Mansour's speech after he turned the tables and pinned the responsibility on Israel, Townhall reported.