Israel’s ‘Gandhi’ clearly absent from Israel Alliance event at U of New Mexico


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:


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.


There are 9 comments

  1. jane

    Why are you shocked? This is typical behavior of zionists like Stand with us. They always use violence against peaceful protestors, this is their trademark.

  2. Noelle Clearwater

    I noticed that one of the Zionists who was engaging in the aggression was also shouting “USA, USA!” which makes me more than ashamed to be an American. It also points to the fact that most Americans know that the U.S. supports Israel and is therefore complicit in its actions. They feel that an attack on Israel is somehow an attack on the U.S. as well which is utterly absurd. thank you for posting this Sami. By the way I had the pleasure of hearing Ilan Pappe speak in Santa Barbara last week. It was quite amazing!

  3. Brian Mayer

    It’s a little unfair to bring students from New Mexico, who may have strong political views but have nothing to do with the situation on the ground in Palestine, into your aptly framed question “where is Israel’s Gandhi?” But the real question I think is “Where is Palestine’s Gandhi?” Actually, a better question would be “Where is Palestine’s Mandela?” Mandela, as you know, was pro-violence before he was against it, and when he brought together South Africa he did so using political pragmatism, cunning strategy and compromise, including the extremely controversial decision to seek a multiethnic one-state solution instead of a mutli-state solution that was desired by both the Afrikaner and Zulu coalitions.

    Point being, no element of the Palestinian leadership today represents this sort of political acumen, which is disappointing. Whether or not it is fair, the fact of the matter is that the oppressed people always is the one that needs better leadership. On Israel’s side, it simply isn’t hard to be the power player.

    Just an ongoing question in my mind.

    1. Sami Kishawi

      The “Palestinian Gandhi” question is overplayed. Take Khader Adnan, for example, who outdid Gandhi in terms of number of days hunger striking and who, through his steadfastness, shed light on Israel’s policies of illegal detainment.

      The article’s title and purpose was a play on Israeli tactics in which any action Israel or its lobby manages to condemn, it ascribes somehow to Palestinians.

      1. Brian Mayer

        Fine, but student protest tactics are old news. I don’t have to point to Occupy Oakland or any number of ridiculously stupid student protests that have nothing to do with Israel, it’s just young people protesting and being naive. It’s unfair to point to students in New Mexico and say “look at Israeli tactics.” This is shallow and ultimately unproductive. I could just as easily look at a SJP protest and say “look at how the Palestinian tactics don’t care about free speech and encourage terrorism” or some shit like that but it just isn’t productive and it’s also weak sauce for an intelligent decent person, which I know you are.

        Second, starving yourself in prison is hardly Gandhi territory. People have huge misconceptions about Gandhi: not only was he a cunning diplomat and politician, but he had a brilliant legal mind with a history of arguing from the bench for years. His hunger protests and religious revelations were calculated political moves designed to turn sympathy at strategic points in his career. Of course, we choose not to remember it that way–for the same reason we would rather think of Mandela as a man of peace–but the fact is, Khader Adnan going on a hunger strike doesn’t cut it when it comes to mobilizing a nation toward a common goal. In order to make change in Israel we need Palestinian leadership that’s willing to talk to the Israelis and make compromises in the interest of the greater good, and most importantly willing to denounce violence. Historically, the side that requires this leadership is the marked, oppressed side, not the stronger side…that’s just how it works.

      2. Brian Mayer

        Point being, there are better arguments than using confirmation bias to inflame people who already share your position against students who have done nothing more than be stupid kids, using pretty much the exact same tactics as their non-Zionist counterparts on thousands of other hotbed issues. Stick to the Palestinian conflict, not ancillary discourse which does nothing to improve anything. If you do your job right, they will follow you, not the other way around.

      3. Sami Kishawi

        I do not see StandWithUs or Israel Alliance condemning the physical assaults done against these students. And to say that the stronger (or oppressive) side doesn’t require a semblance of Gandhian leadership is to say that its position virtually relieves it of its responsibilities to Gandhi’s tenets. If an “Israeli Gandhi” can’t exist, what should?

        But before straying deeper into semantics, I want to state my agreement with you about the Gandhi misconceptions. He was an avid supporter of nonviolence but he did believe that if one was too cowardly to walk into a blazing field of bullets with his or her arms up, violence would be more suitable. And this mentality is more or less affirmed in the Fourth Geneva Convention and various other international law and human rights treatises which altogether acknowledge the necessity for violence if combatting an oppressive and/or occupying power.

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