With campus propagandists like these, the satire writes itself

14 April 2012

Wayne State University’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Arab Student Union (ASU) organized a silent walkout last Wednesday of a presentation by Brooke Goldstein, Director of The Lawfare Project, an effort making sure US, Israeli and European war criminals are not persecuted by their victims.

Goldstein was on campus discussing “the rights of women and children in the Middle East” while showing clips from her 2006 propaganda piece The Making of a Martyr. She was representing one of her other projects, the Children’s Rights Institute, where she boldly works towards a world where Palestinians cannot kill or oppress Palestinian children because, dammit, that’s Israel’s job!

Protestors gathered outside the Wayne State law school to finalize preparations for the actions. ASU leader Ali Beydoun, standing on an elevated flower bed, addressed the gathered crowd to finalize the action’s details. Goldstein knew that she had something vital to say to the crowd and approached. She joined Ali on the flower bed and, uninvited, began to address the gathered protestors.

Goldstein, who could give excellent “How to be condescending” lessons, asserted that she considered the ASU and SJP “to be [her] friends,” was “pro-Palestinian,” and that the pending protest showed that the protestors “don’t know anything about” her, her message or her film and work.

“If you knew,” she said, “you would join me inside for dialogue.” She also said she had many friends in the West Bank and Gaza. As organizer Nour Abed notes in the interview below, “She’s not racist! She has Black friends!”

Rude friends

Goldstein walked directly back to the law school building after interrupting Ali. She would later refer to this as when she “talked with” protestors outside before the event. She apparently views dialogue as Palestinians and solidarity activists listening while pro-apartheid speakers talk.

Since the ASU and SJP are her “friends,” she must normally interrupt her friends. SJP and ASU, you folks have got some rude friends!

Goldstein, a crude and unsophisticated propagandist, began her presentation by asking the audience a series of difficult questions which I paraphrase as best I can. I did not take accurate notes for this part because I, along with several others including the interviewee below, began chuckling.

“Who here opposes strapping bombs to 14-year-olds and sending them off to die?” A dozen hands go up, none belonging to the ASU or SJP (those brutes!).

“Who here opposes forcibly mutilating women’s genitals?” The same hands go up. My goodness, will no one from from ASU or SJP speak against crude articulations of patriarchy!?! I mean other than by organizing numerous events themselves about feminism and Islam, social justice and women’s rights. Those are irrelevant because this is a Westerner bringing up the topic. Just raise your hands “friends”! She’ll lead you to freedom and you can join Ayaan Hirsi Ali and other women “liberated” to join the Crusade called the Clash of Civilizations!

What moral quandary might she next explore? “Who here is pro-slavery?” No wait, “Who here thinks not starving is better than starving?” Neither of those! Having clearly exposed the ASU and SJP as child-murdering, woman-mutilating barbarians, she proceeded with her presentation.

Selective outrage

She lectured the ASU and SJP members, letting them know that by not raising their hands they were implicitly — nay — explicitly letting the world know of their support for brutal policies (their opposition to these policies as well as the the much more brutal policies Goldstein seeks to defend in court being irrelevant).

At this point protest leader Madji Alhusseini rose from his seat, no doubt due to the harsh truths spoken by Goldstein (at least, she wrote on Facebook under her married name that this was the reason for the walkout).

For Goldstein, like the feminist US Marine Corps deployed by George W. Bush in Afghanistan and Iraq, will stop at nothing to save Arab and Muslim women and children from Arab and Muslim men (but who is more … let’s say … lax about defending Arab and Muslim women and children from European, American and Israeli men).

All the other protestors rose with him, each revealing the name of a Palestinian child killed by Israel during the 2008-09 Operation Cast Lead attack on Gaza. The group then walked out slowly, gathered outside in the courtyard and marched through the Wayne State campus, chanting “Free, free, Palestine!”

I caught up afterwards with Nour Abed, a Palestinian activist in southeast Michigan and one of the action’s organizers. Brooke Goldstein had already asked all of the good questions, but I tried to think of some others anyway. Here’s what Nour had to say:

Jimmy Johnson: What was the impetus for the action?

Nour Abed: I’m sick of Zionist propaganda. They want to portray Palestinian children as terrorists. And not once do they mention 700 children are arrested every year. Not once do they mention the children of Nabi Saleh [village in the West Bank] who are sprayed with tear gas every week. It’s disgusting. She plays many, many roles. I’ve seen her on Hannity, I’ve seen her on O’Rielly. It just shows how low some people will go.

And I know what good PR is. Yeah, they don’t mention that they’re pro-Israeli, but the things that they do show us how pro-Israeli they are. You’re either on the side of the oppressed, or your the oppressor.

JJ: This program sounds like George W. Bush and his talk about the US saving Afghan women from their men.

NA: There’s a poet named Rafeef Ziadah. She has a poem called “Shades of Anger” and she talks about how ‘You can’t liberate me with your F-16s.” And to talk about how we’re oppressed by Palestinian men? We’re oppressed by the occupation first. They throw our men in in jail and murder our children! To me, it’s the same bullshit as the Kony 2012 is doing.

JJ: What did you think about the action and event?

NA: I think more students should be involved in these types of protest. I’m happy at what we did, we didn’t let her provoke us, even as much as I wanted to say something, as a Palestinian woman.

Goldstein’s just the pretty face. You had the pretty white boy for Kony 2012, she’s the pretty white girl for this. We live in a society where people believe anything coming out of a pretty face. Look at the Kony 2012 stuff, the issue has been going for years but once they put that pretty white face on the face of that campaign you had major media outlets all over it including celebrities.

Palestinian children are not suicide bombers, they are victims of Israeli terrorism. These children who she is supposedly trying to save are children whose dreams and lives were stolen once they were born into occupation and apartheid.

What made me realize that Goldstein didn’t know what she was talking about was when she went off about the sign [calling for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s prosecution, held by one of the protestors, saying] Netanyahu has nothing to do with this. Netanyahu has overseen war crimes in Gaza, the West Bank, in south Lebanon, and now pushing for war in Iran. For her to say he has nothing to do with this is ridiculous!

JJ: Why a silent walk-out?

NA: They know we’re not gonna listen to them. Each of us had a sign with the name of a Palestinian child killed in Cast Lead. I had a girl named Ruba, she was only 13 years old in Gaza. She was silenced. What the silent walk out symbolizes, we’re representing these children who didn’t have the chance to talk. They we’re silenced, and we represent them.

Jimmy Johnson is the founder of Neged Neshek, a website focused on Israel’s weapons industry, and can be reached at jimmy [at] negedneshek [dot] org.