Video shows physical attack on US students “mic checking” StandWithUs propagandist

A video posted on YouTube Thursday shows a physical attack on students who used the “people’s mic” tactic popularized by the Occupy movement to protest a speech by pro-Israel propagandist Nonie Darwish at the University of New Mexico.

The video documents protesters shouting “Mic check! Nonie Darwish speaks for Israeli apartheid! And genocide at the hands of the IDF [Israeli army]!” Just a few seconds into their protest, several members of the audience, most of them appearing to be men, physically attack the demonstrators, including women.

The individual recording the attack on video is apparently attacked as well. “Sir, you don’t have the right to touch my property,” the videographer says before the camera lens is covered by what appears to be a hand. The video then ends.

Text accompanying the video on YouTube says:

On February 23nd 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.

The event, titled “Why the Arab Spring is Failing,” was open to the public and sponsored by the campus Israel Alliance; the Islamophobic, anti-Palestinian David Horowitz Freedom Center, Congregation Albert Brotherhood and Congregation B’nai Israel Sisterhood, according to a flyer posted on the Israeli Alliance website.

Nonie Darwish is part of the anti-Palestinian group StandWithUs’ speakers bureau. As The Electronic Intifada reported in a 2008 article scrutinizing her 2006 book Now They Call Me Infidel, “Darwish, born an Egyptian Muslim, now an American Evangelical Christian, is one of the most energetic. She manages the website Arabs for Israel and has appeared on FOX News, on the website Frontpage Magazine, and in the film Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.”

The attack on the student protesters at the University of New Mexico is similar to the attack on CODEPINK activist Rae Abileah, who was hospitalized after audience members assaulted her when she disrupted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech at US Congress last year.

According to a press release from Occupy AIPAC! earlier this month, Abileah’s assailant was identified to be Stanley Anthony Schulster, allegedly a member of the Israeli lobby group AIPAC. Abileah has filed a lawsuit against Shulster.

Occupy AIPAC stated:

According to the complaint, Mr. Shulster grabbed the banner held by Ms. Abileah, used his hand to attempt to gag and suffocate Ms. Abileah, and yanked her head back, injuring her neck. As a result of the attack, Ms. Abileah sustained a neck strain, swollen neck and muscle strain, and has since suffered from frequent head and neck aches as well as emotional trauma.

 

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Just to clarify, Rabbi Art Flicker of Congregation B'nai Israel withdrew the support for this event on behalf of Congregation B'nai Israel Sisterhood, on the day of the event, after some Albuquerqueans alerted the synagogue to the extreme nature of Darwish's documented comments, including calling Islam a "poison" and calling on Islam to be "annihilated." Professor Richard Wood attempted to read the Rabbi's letter per his wishes, but was shouted down by angry audience members.

Maureen Clare Murphy

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Maureen Clare Murphy is the managing editor of The Electronic Intifada and lives in Chicago.