Thursday evening, pro-Israel audience members physically assaulted students and solidarity activists at an Israel Alliance event hosted at the University of New Mexico. The footage captured by a student attending the StandWithUs-hosted event shows adult men verbally abusing the students before physically swatting at their arms, heads, and chests and, at minute 0:55, throwing them to the ground. The students had just begun “mic checking” Nonie Darwish for her comments in support of Israel’s aggression when the assailants launched their physical tirade at them and forced them from the room.
Although I try to refrain from the overplayed references to Gandhi, I will take the liberty of pitching a question similar to the one tossed around by fundamentalist supporters of Israel every day: Where is Israel’s Gandhi? Clearly, his absence is still extending. The assault on the students at a public event at the University of New Mexico mimics Israel’s regular response to nonviolent activists in Palestine and, just as it isn’t tolerated there, it won’t be tolerated here.
Here is the press release issued by the students involved in the assault:
UNM STUDENTS ASSUALTED AT PUBLIC EVENT ON CAMPUS
On February 23rd during a public lecture by Nonie Darwish, members of the audience assaulted a number of UNM students. The public lecture, which began at 7PM in the Anthropology lecture hall, was attend by some UNM students who exercised their right to freedom of speech by vocally protesting the against the opinions put forward by Darwish. When the students raised their voices a number of audience members proceeded to get out of their seats and use force against the students. One of the students was hit in the face, another had her hair pulled, and many were pushed and shoved. One of the students caught much of these events on film before another audience member forcibly pushed down her camera. The students were then forced out of the auditorium and quickly called the UNM police who arrived and filed a report.
These students were assaulted on UNM campus for simply trying to make their voices heard and it is a shock that a non-violent action was met with such aggression.