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This Israel public relations jig is up

Colorado College lecture in Gaylord HallCOLORADO COLLEGE- The news from the ISRAEL TODAY lecture is all good. If you’d been there, you might wonder how my takeaway from such a bilious gathering could be upbeat. I’ll tell you. The Palestinian voice was well represented, Israel’s presentation was Old Testament, and the writing on the wall grows ever more clear. And I got a few nice pics.

The Audience
To begin, I would certainly have preferred everyone had acted with more decorum. That is, if there had been impressionable attendees there. As it was, the seats were only half occupied. Except for the young men with “JEW CREW” on their backs, or girls with Hebrew script across their pullovers, there were almost no CC students. The audience was one third voices for Palestine, and two thirds vitriolic Jew, amazingly indignant to disruption of their world view. No one was there to listen, except to cheer for what they already believed. But I’m certain it was an eye opener for all.

My friends and I were sure to supplement the speaker’s pauses with color to augment his heavily loaded statements. For example, when Gil Artzyeli described the objective and feat of Israel’s 2006 incursion into Lebanon “to silence them,” and did that not prove effective? Who could refrain from adding “you killed them.” The 2/3 supporters grew more and more angry. But the speaker had an inopportune manner of posing rhetorical questions, which we couldn’t resist answering.

It almost got us kicked out. I spent the duration with security guards poised right behind me, ready to escort me out of the room. I learned it would be more prudent to avoid the back row at opportunities like this, because you can be pulled out of your chair, or distracted into involuntary conversation with security personnel more readily than if you were well ensconced among the other attendees.

Those voicing support for Palestinians were made to wait until question and answer portion to voice their objections. Even then, the pro-Israel audience would cut them off. It became impossible to ask a complex question without interruptions of “What is your question? State your question!” They hounded everyone who wasn’t setting the speaker up for a softy. It was a ruthless crowd with the civility of Tea Partiers. When the pro-Israel attendees took their turn posing questions, no one interrupted. When it was a detractor, their time suddenly became too valuable to entrust to us. Even a CC student from Gaza, who hasn’t been permitted to visit his family in two years, was not given a hearing.

I’m positive that as these rude people think on how the event transpired, they will not be able to help feeling ashamed. Our interactions were spirited and engaging, addressed to a speaker with the hubris to take us on. We interrupted the speaker, but never tried to drown him out. Our adversaries on the other hand tried to flat out shut their fellow audience members up.

That crowd is immovable. I’ve no optimism for influencing their resolve. On the other hand, their rigidity was laughable. Their logic will not sway anyone new. They were positively shrill about their speaker being permitted to deliver his message as abridged. “Let him speak!” they shouted, as if their attention was rapt by information they’d never heard before, a preposterous notion. I’m neither Palestinian nor American Jew, but this was Israel Foundation Myth for Dummies. I can only think that this crowd sat tightly clenched, thrilled that the others among the audience were forced to listen to their dogma.

The Presentation
Old school. Palestinians offered their own statehood, but rejected it. Israel is pretext for Arab countries to oppress their peoples. No such thing as a Palestinian, Jewish presence in Judea has been continuous, Palestinians teach their children to hate, Israelis teach love, etc, etc. The old greenhouses of Gaza story was the example given to show that Palestinians don’t want to help themselves. Arab neighbor states are blamed for not resettling the Palestinians. Gaza is free, it is not occupied.

Would you believe Israel justifies the force it used in Lebanon and Gaza based on what NATO was permitted to do in Bosnia? Those were war crimes too! Israel accuses its critics of anti-Semitism because they don’t take other militaries to task for their crimes. But really Israel gives itself the latitude to commit crimes commensurate with the worst.

And here’s a wild gem! Israel owes its enormously successful economy (no mention of US foreign aid or direct sponsorship by Jewish American interests) to, among progressive business practices, the fact that all Israelis, both men and women, have to serve compulsory military service. It gives them the skills and discipline to excel in business and strengthen Israel. Mr. Artzyeli showed a video clip taken from CNBC, recommending that such a policy in American would certainly greatly improve its prospects for an economic recovery!

A word about the delivery of the presentation. Though impeccably dressed Gil Artzyeli affected the presence of someone wearing a Tony Soprano tracksuit. He sat back on his heels, his eyes directed to the ceiling as he dismissed his questioners. When a Palestinian girl raised a specific instance of an IDF strategy deployed in Lebanon, wondering how it was not a war crime. Artzyeli ignored it completely, making an aside to someone up front that the he wasn’t about to dignify that accusation with a response.

It’s kinda the problem Israel is having, isn’t it?

The Jig is Up
Over the last weeks I’ve had a chance to participate in three presentation by Israeli officials. The sum experience has fortified me with hope. With world opinion against them, and now the Goldstone Report, Israel is on the run.

The first lecture by Uzi Landau was on the offensive, directed toward Iran. It went over poorly. The Q&A revealed that Landau hadn’t connected the dots at all. The audience he had hoped to rally became only more concerned about Israeli nukes than Iran’s.

The second presentation delivered by Nir Barkat was an encouragement to the Denver Jewish community to support Jerusalem, with donations, travel, and by encouraging emigration. There the audience was equally smug and oblivious to the notion that increased settlements constituted violations of international law. But Israel’s continuous push for Jewish immigrants provides the clue to what Barkat inadvertently confirmed. Jews are leaving Jerusalem. The balance of the population is shifting toward the non-Jew.

This third event with the Deputy Consul General took the rhetoric down to basics, a demonstration of how far Israel is slipping. The dogma behind Zionism’s right to its own state, and their right to defend themselves, used to go without saying. Today Gil Artzyeli was forced to defend the most basic assumptions. The Jewish diaspora, their right to return, the expanding borders, the wall, the military retaliation. I was thrilled to see arguments slip back past the basics.

The Jewish American communities may still be a resolute, but their numbers are not large. It appears to me that the compatriots they’ve recruited, from the Christian right and the neoliberal conservatives are receding quickly.

The image of the much-oppressed Jew is becoming eclipsed by the militant arrogant Zionist, earning no one’s sympathy.

A few pictures from the event:
Deputy Consul General Gil Artzyeli lecture November 12, 2009
Castigated for raising his voice, Ed Nace insisted on standing for the duration of the lecture, to lend omniscience to his objection.

Deputy Consul General Gil Artzyeli lecture November 12, 2009
Colorado College Poli-Sci professor, and Middle East specialist Bob Lee rose several times to forbid the impromptu participation by the audience. Here he calls for security to remove Ed.

Deputy Consul General Gil Artzyeli lecture November 12, 2009
Security reconsidered asking Ed Nace to leave as he informed them in his booming voice that he was a Colorado College alum.

Deputy Consul General Gil Artzyeli lecture November 12, 2009
Would you believe Mr. Artzyeli trotted out the old Farfur the Mouse clip, depicting Muslim children being taught to admire suicide bombers. It’s a favorite example whose relevant context was long ago dismissed.

Footnote
One lamentable observation I had regarded a member of the chaplain’s office at CC, who is also a peace community activist. She was not at liberty to take sides on the Palestinian – Israel discussions for fear of alienating the Jewish students. I do not personally doubt her motives, nor her sympathies for the victims of injustice in Palestine.

However, when our 85 year-old Ed Nace raised his voice, or stood angrily, the chaplain’s assistant moved to calm him down. She may have thought he needed assistance, but in reality his stubborn act was working. His offense at the slanders against Palestinians, his incredulity that such a one-sided presentation was being allowed, and his indignation at the ferocity with which he was being silenced, expressed itself as a hard-of-hearing old man who was not about to be bullied. His performance, even inadvertent, worked to disrupt the lecture and temper the smug untruths being passed as academic fact. But Ed’s act was not made any easier by a colleague trying to calm him down. To his credit, Ed persevered and was able to put a human emotional context to Mr. Artzyeli’s slick propaganda.

The chaplain is no doubt schooled in nonviolent communication. She needs to bone up on effective nonviolent theater. Non-confrontational communication isn’t going to bring racist bullies like Artzyeli to heel. Zionist Apartheid is going to fall when it is condemned and pilloried.

7 thoughts on “This Israel public relations jig is up

  1. Great article Eric. The guy had the gall to say that there is no word for “compromise” in the Arabic language. I wanted to yell out “nor do they have the word CHUTZPAH.”

    That was truly below the belt – I googled the word compromise in Arabic and got a great answer in the “Meeting of the Minds” by Geoff Nunberg. (please google). How could such an old civilization NOT have that word? It is just expressed differently with several words such as “the meeting of the minds” or “middle ground.”

  2. I wonder how any Israeli (or non-Israeli Jew) could bring himself to schmooze or be schmoozed by the “christian” terrorist-enablers they pal around with here in the States. People who say openly that they want Israel to jump Iran, because then Israel would be DESTROYED and it would usher in the Apocalypse.

    Or their good “Friends” in the PNAC who stated that “we have biological agents that are tailored to ‘a certain genotype’ (Semitic) and we should use them in the Arabian Peninsula”.

    It makes you want to scream “Hey, ISRAEL is on the Arabian Peninsula too, Jackass!”

  3. Israel over all! We will not be scared by you commies hippies in Colorado. We are the 4th most powerful military in the world. We run Washington. If you think you can take us come and get us. We will crush you.
    The Arabooshim who run this site are in for a sorry defeat when we crush those Palestinian terrorists. You say “genocide”. Ha! The only genocide was the one committed against us – the Jews. Did you not read the Bible. God gave this land to us. We will never give back what is rightfully ours. Why do you think the world bows down to us? This is Gods will. The only one god.
    This land is called Israel. And Israel is for Jews. We are chosen by god.
    Why do you think no one in the west criticizes us? Why do you think the U.N has done nothing about us? Why do think we continue to take our land and no one blinks? Because what we are doing is justified by God. If it wasn’t so God would not let us have Palestine. But it is so!

  4. I read the Bible and still do. The Bible also mentions that the Palestinians were also Bene Abraham.

    And, Bene Ysrael. They’re your own kin. Closer to Judah than Scots are to English.

    I Also read in the Bible that more Israelites were killed by Israelites than by the Egyptians,Philistines, and Hittites combined. Do the math, the Book of Judges is a narrative of one long Jew on Jew Ongoing Hate Crime.

    Continue with your Hate, I can’t stop you. Your Propaganda Ministry stooges were here to make sure we don’t ever stop FUNDING that 4th largest military in the World.

    Your diatribe is so Anti-Semitic, even with the “Zionist Plot” scenario that you OWN Washington, that it could have as well been written by a Nazi agent provacateur.

    Hatred must be like a strong drug for you, Moishe. You should lose that addiction before it destroys you.

  5. Moses! has a lot in common with the CC speaker. He reminds me of Dr. James Dobson (Focus on the Family) and some of these anti-abortion zealots. They use God to justify the worst atrocities that they commit against others. This is not the God that I know — the one who loves, forgives, and teaches us to love our neighbors as ourselves.
    What poison to spread, it will come back to defeat what could be a great nation.

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