Two activists from the Anti-War Committee in Minneapolis defended their recent disruption of an Israeli law professor’s speech at the University of Minnesota before a Wednesday morning court appearance.

Misty Rowan and Sophia Hansen-Day, who face trespassing charges for interrupting the Nov. 3 event, appeared briefly in Hennepin County District Court, where their pretrial dates were set for early next year.

At the U event, protesters shouted at Moshe Halbertal, a law professor from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, as he tried to present a speech titled “Protecting Civilians: Moral Challenges of Asymmetric Warfare.”

Rowan said Wednesday that her group will continue to demand justice for Palestinians. “We’re here to stand by our actions and demand that charges are dropped,” she said.

U officials and law school faculty members sharply criticized the protest. Prof. Dale Carpenter wrote on a national blog that Halbertal’s speech was delayed half an hour as the protesters shouted denunciations of Israel, interrupting the free exchange of ideas.

“That the freedom to present a lecture is threatened in this way at a public university is appalling,” he wrote on a legal affairs blog on Washingtonpost.com.

Jess Sundin, a fellow activist, said the protesters stand by their actions. In a news release, Sundin wrote: “Whether you’re sitting in an ivory tower, or in your car on Interstate 94, you show your true colors when you criticize protesters that inconvenience you or make you uncomfortable. … From Palestine to north Minneapolis, lives are at stake, and we will not be silent.”

Beatrice Dupuy