One of the more obvious and shameful tactics of the pro-Israel lobby is to target and poison the growing minds of college-age individuals with wild attempts at justifying Israel’s brutal “safety measures” against Palestinians and solidarity activists. Ehud Olmert and Michael Oren, for example, recently embarked on cross-campus speaking tours to publicly highlight the expendability of Palestinian lives in the name of Israeli national security. But in every instance, brave students stand up to the propaganda thrown their way by creatively countering the speaker’s agenda with fact, morality, and passion.
On October 20, 2010, two Israeli soldiers were brought to the University of Michigan in an attempt to dispel any misconceptions the public had about the Israeli Defense Forces that, only years ago, barraged the Gaza Strip with bombs, bullets, and hate. Pro-justice students immediately gathered the support of faculty and community members and together orchestrated the most well-designed college protest I have ever seen. With their mouths taped shut and the names of killed Palestinian children gracing their shirts, the students walked out, leaving the guest soldiers baffled and embarrassed as they faced the five or so people who stayed behind.
For those of you interested in improving college-level activism, this particular protest should serve as a model. The students were quick in organizing a classic form of protest used heavily and effectively throughout modern history. The activists went in, did what they had to do on cue, and walked out. There was no yelling or profanity, and the security officer’s cool demeanor implied the students were in line with the law. And if I’m not mistaken, attendees who weren’t even involved in the protest joined the activists as they quietly filed out of the room and gathered outside. The students made their mark and sent a message to the college community and administration: We do not tolerate the justification of oppression.
I commend the students, faculty, and community members who put together such an excellent demonstration in favor of peace, justice, and humanity at the University of Michigan.