Students and community members at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee staged a successful walkout yesterday during a talk by author Ron Leshem whose work promotes anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim sentiment.
Leshem, an Israeli author and media producer who assisted with the development of controversial show Homeland, was invited to speak about his experience in the television industry. The event was held at the university’s Golda Meir Library and was sponsored by the Milwaukee Jewish Federation and hosted by Hillel Milwaukee. Leshem’s work, which includes the film Beaufort, aims largely to draw sympathy to Israeli occupation soldiers.
According to multiple sources, officers with the Milwaukee Police Department were dispatched to the event in anticipation of the walkout.
Leshem’s talk centered on his vision of using film and media to depict the Israeli experience to large audiences.
When Leshem showed a video clip of Beaufort, which mainly consisted of an Israeli showing his scars, thirty audience members stood up, removed their jackets, and exposed signs that were taped to their shirts. The signs read “Occupation is not Education” and “Boycott Israel”.
Among the demonstrators were members of Students for Justice in Palestine chapters at both the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and Marquette University, as well as members of Friends of Palestine and the Palestine Solidarity Coalition. Local alumni and community supporters also participated in the action, including an Air Force veteran.
When the protesters stated their opposition to the occupation and the way Leshem was capitalizing on the suffering of Palestinians and Lebanese, audience members who remained seated began to jeer them and verbally insult them in English, Hebrew, and Spanish, according to a source at the scene.