Video: Students organize mass walk-out targeting Israel’s token Arab spokesperson

Students at the University of Michigan have done it again — a year after the silent mass walk-out from a propaganda event on campus featuring an Israeli soldier, setting an example followed by students at several other campuses, students organized another mass walk-out from a hasbara lecture by the Israeli government’s token Arab spokesperson, Ishmael Khaldi.

On 26 October, dozens of students holding signs with slogans like “Avigdor Lieberman is a racist,” referring to the top official of the Israeli foreign ministry, with which Khaldi is employed.

The Electronic Intifada has previously reported how the Israeli government trots Khaldi aroud the United States, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area, to “prove” that it is a liberal democracy with equal rights for all.

Yaman Salahi wrote for EI:

Prior to his work with the consulate, Khaldi was shuttled around the United States by the Hasbara Fellowships program, a project started with the support of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs after the second intifada in 2001 and the rise of numerous grassroots solidarity campaigns in support of Palestinian rights. Khaldi’s long record of giving talks proclaiming his love for Israel as an Arab is precisely what paved his way to becoming Israel’s Arab in San Francisco.

Khaldi recently gave a private talk to a number of University of California, Berkeley students organizing “Israeli Apartheid Week.” Khaldi began by praising the “beauty” of democracy, which he said allowed for “tolerance” of different viewpoints. He stated that his main opposition to the word “apartheid” was that it was “incitement” which “spread the seeds of hate,” and that his personal mission in the US was to “build bridges and reach out to communities with real stories” that would more accurately represent his state. He said he did not want students to “hate,” but to “speak with each other” and “move forward.” He also questioned the motives of student activists concerned with Israel and Palestine, asking, “Why Israel?”

Walkouts across the US

Students across the US have been increasingly challenging Israeli spokespersons and the state’s propagandists in the US.

In Chicago last month, students organized two simultaneous walkouts on separate university campuses to challenge speakers promoted by StandWithUs — an organization that works closely with the Israeli government to undermine the Palestine solidarity movement, particularly on campuses — and Gil Hoffman, a right-wing journalist and Israeli army reservist.

Students also walked out of Hoffman’s lecture at Wayne State, and young Jewish activists disrupted and “occupied” a Birthright Israel event in New York City.

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Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

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