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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.

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March 5, 2012 2

A Round-Up of Israeli Apartheid Week Events

With Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) draw­ing to a close in cities around the United States, here is a sam­pling of what took place on col­lege cam­puses and else­where this past week:

  • Bran­deis Uni­ver­sity: Ali Abunimah deliv­ered a talk in which he dis­cussed his sup­port for a one-state solu­tion and described Israel as a “sec­tar­ian gov­ern­ment.” Abunimah was quoted say­ing: “The claim that Israel should be a Jew­ish state can be asserted, not defended—not legally, polit­i­cally or ethically…Israel has reached a moral, polit­i­cal and eth­i­cal dead-end. The notion that Israel can be both Jew­ish and demo­c­ra­tic vio­lates the rights of Pales­tini­ans, which is fine if you don’t see Pales­tini­ans as humans, but, if you do, it is wrong.” He also offen­sively com­pared the Holo­caust to the “Nakba,” a term Pales­tini­ans use to describe the 1948 War of Inde­pen­dence and the estab­lish­ment of the state of Israel. He said, “We must con­demn Nakba denial as strongly as we must con­demn Holo­caust denial.”
  • George Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­sity: Mem­bers of the Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) chap­ter tried to dis­rupt an event orga­nized by GW’s pro-Israel orga­ni­za­tion MEOR. The event hosted a for­mer Israel Defense Forces (IDF) sol­dier, Sergeant Ben­jamin Anthony.
  • Colum­bia Uni­ver­sity: Mem­bers of SJP staged a “house demo­li­tion act” that was intended to mimic Israel’s demo­li­tion of ille­gal Pales­tin­ian homes. One of the activists argued that these demo­li­tions are made pos­si­ble by U.S. tax dol­lars and Colum­bia University’s invest­ments, which fund “spe­cial Cater­pil­lar bull­doz­ers for Israel to demol­ish Pales­tin­ian homes.”

  • New York City: Approx­i­mately 100 mem­bers of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QAIA) gath­ered in the lobby of the LGBT Cen­ter to protest the Center’s deci­sion not to host events related to the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict. [In March 2011, the Cen­ter had decided not to host an IAW event.] Pro­test­ers held signs that read “Stop Pinkwash­ing Israeli Apartheid” and “End Israeli Apartheid,” and accused the cen­ter of “suc­cumb­ing to the out­spo­ken in power” and “betray[ing] its his­toric mis­sion.” After an hour indoors, the protest moved out­side to the sidewalk.

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