Thursday, March 29, 2012

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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