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March 29, 2012 Off

Israeli Knesset Members Shouted Down by Brandeis Students

Anti-Israel activists, includ­ing mem­bers of Bran­deis University’s Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP), inter­rupted a pre­sen­ta­tion by five Israeli Knes­set mem­bers, includ­ing an Israeli-Arab MK, on Mon­day.
After the event began, the stu­dents stood up and revealed t-shirts with the word “apartheid” writ­ten in Hebrew and began shout­ing, “Israel is an apartheid state” and “The Knes­set is an apartheid par­lia­ment.” They were sub­se­quently removed from the event, which was tak­ing place at a local syn­a­gogue in New­ton, Massachusetts. 
The event, titled “A Dis­cus­sion on Israel and the Dias­pora,” was co-sponsored by Bran­deis Uni­ver­sity and the Rud­er­man Fam­ily Foun­da­tion in an effort to strengthen the rela­tion­ship between Israeli gov­ern­ment offi­cials and the Amer­i­can Jew­ish community. 

The dis­rup­tion is notable for two rea­sons. The first is that Bran­deis SJP described the action on its blog as a sig­nal that Israeli Knes­set mem­bers are “not wel­come by stu­dents at Bran­deis Uni­ver­sity.” It is, how­ever, fairly cer­tain that many Bran­deis stu­dents do wel­come Israeli politi­cians, and that only an infin­i­tes­i­mal per­cent­age of stu­dents engage in and sup­port these dis­rup­tive tac­tics. For some rea­son, it seems that the pro­test­ers believe their inter­ests (a minor­ity view) should trump those of the majority.
The sec­ond point to note is that the indi­vid­u­als involved pro­moted their dis­rup­tion as a “mic check” and labeled the action as “Occupy the Knes­set!” This lan­guage evokes (and refers to tac­tics used by) the Occupy Wall Street move­ment and other Occupy protests that took place around the U.S. last sum­mer. Anti-Israel groups have con­sis­tently tried to seize on the momen­tum of the pop­u­lar social protest move­ment and apply its tac­tics to anti-Israel efforts.