Citizen Action Monitor

Univ of Michigan students protest Israeli soldier campus visit

No 88 Posted by fw, November 16, 2010

These guys shouldn’t have been allowed here on campus. They’re criminals.” University of Michigan student

“These guys” were two soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), presumably on a tour of college campuses to spread their vile propaganda about the Gaza War (also known as Operation Cast Lead), a three-week armed conflict that took place in the Gaza Strip and Southern Israel during the winter of 2008–2009. Israel began the military offensive with a surprise opening air strike against the Gaza Strip on December 27, 2008.

Here is a You Tube video of the protest, launched on October 20, 2010 by a few dozen University of Michigan students.

Partial transcript of the scripted malicious lies being spread by the Israeli propaganda machine

Omer, an IDF soldier, begins speaking to a classroom full of students:

“[Our enemy] is a brutal one.”

As Omer begins to speak, dozens of students stand and remove their jackets to reveal signs attached to their red sweaters. The signs give the names, ages, and dates that civilians were killed by IDF forces. The word “SILENCED” appears in large bold letters at the bottom of the sign, and, symbolically, some students duct-taped their mouths. The students stand in silence for a few moments, some with heads bowed, and then sit down.

Omer continues:

“It [our enemy] does not follow the rules of the Geneva Conventions and does not follow any human moral code and targets civilians of all ages, targets civilians of all faiths. From my opinion they’re going to destroy the country at home. Basically every one of my soldiers that tried to cross the street just got shot at. First there was panic. We didn’t know what to do. And after a few seconds we realized that the best thing to do was to call the air force and they will take care of it. So we took the radio and we called the air force. But the order we got instead when we called for help was ‘the air force does not shoot at schools and the air force does not shoot at mosques’ obviously because they don’t want to harm civilians. The other order we got instead was to fight against the terrorists the hard way — face to face.

At some point in this disinformation campaign, the students stand and, without saying a word, walk out, practically emptying the room. They ignore Omer’s plea:

“Can you stay please and ask questions?”

Who authorized this on campus appearance of IDF criminals?

After the classroom protest, the students gathered outside for a classic Fish Bowl session, in which each student, in turn, came to the middle of the bowl to share a personal message of what the protest meant to them. One student wondered why the soldiers were allowed on campus:

“These guys shouldn’t have been allowed here on campus. They’re criminals. They’re currently occupying another nation. So they’re criminals under international law. And here they are welcomed on our college campus. This is something that we have to prevent. We have to put the measures in place that prevents that from happening.”

What made this an effective direct action event?

  • It was a targeted, well organized protest, ostensibly with a goal to confront agents of the Israeli propaganda machine
  • Red sweaters to symbolize the blood of innocents
  • Taped mouths to symbolize the silencing of oppressed Gazans
  • Signs with the names and ages of innocent civilians, and the dates of their slaughter by IDF forces
  • Effective, symbolic use of silent, non-violent action
  • Delegitimized the soldiers’ visit by refusing to engage in a discussion with them
  • Asking who authorized the IDF appearance thus raising concerns about the legitimacy of the university’s decision-making process
  • The Fish Bowl wrap-up gave each participant an opportunity to bear witness to the event
  • Home-made video  of the protest, published on You Tube, has received almost 70,000 visits.

RELATED READING

Michigan students vote for divestment. The University of Michigan (Dearborn), Student Government General Assembly Resolution # 2010-003, reads, in part:

Whereas, any University investments in entities contributing to human rights violations by either Israelis or Palestinians is inappropriate,

THEREFORE be it Resolved, (1) that the University of Michigan-Dearborn Student Government will lead a movement to collect petition signatures calling on the Board of Regents to form such an advisory committee, and

Be it further Resolved, (2) that the University of Michigan-Dearborn Student Government calls on the Board of Regents to create an advisory committee to determine if any University investments are questionable and in need of appropriate corrective actions, and

Be it further Resolved, (3) that on behalf of the students at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, we will urge this committee to recommend immediate divestment from companies that are directly involved in the ongoing illegal occupation, because we deem these investments to be profoundly unethical and in direct conflict with the mission of this University

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This entry was posted on November 16, 2010 by in political action, student & youth counterpower and tagged , , .
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