Activism and BDS Beat 24 September 2014
Dozens of faculty members at Ohio University have come out in support of the student senate president who took a bold stand for justice in Palestine on 2 September and who has faced death threats and threats of rape since she videotaped herself pouring a bucket of fake blood over her head to protest Israel’s abuse of Palestinians.
Megan Marzec has been at the center of a targeted campaign by anti-Palestinian individuals, Zionist groups and Israel-aligned media calling for her resignation. The Ohio University administration has both criticized her action and refused to publicly condemn the threats against her.
“We are appalled by the death threats and other forms of intimidation that she has faced in response [to the video]. We are also disappointed in OU administrators and community members who have criticized her act but have not publicly defended her against this violent response,” the faculty letter states.
Supporting the boycott movement
Marzec was remixing the mainstream “ice bucket challenge” people have been doing to raise money for ALS medical research. She was nominated to do the ice bucket challenge by Ohio University’s president, Roderick McDavis, and she decided to subvert the meme, as Palestinians have done with their own “rubble bucket challenge,” and called for the end to Israel’s occupation and in support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
Two days later, Marzec said that she started receiving death threats and threats of rape included in “thousands of hate emails” to her personal email account and on social media.
Palestine Solidarity Legal Support, which partners closely with the Center for Constitutional Rights, sent a letter to the university administration on 10 September “explaining the university’s obligations to protect student speech critical of Israel” and defending Marzec’s action and free speech rights.
Listen to the interview with Megan Marzec via the player, or read the transcript below. The interview, conducted on 11 September, has been edited for length.
Megan Marzec: My name is Megan Marzec, I am president of Ohio University student senate. The second week of classes, I produced a video in response to the president of Ohio University, Roderick McDavis, challenging me to do the ALS bucket challenge, and when I received word, it seemed like really the only way I would respond to the ALS bucket challenge — which was to make a video in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. So I made a “blood bucket” video, which is, to my understanding, is a very common thing currently in the Palestinian liberation movement.
I made a statement of who I was, responding to the fact that I had been challenged by the [university] president as Ohio University student senate president, made a statement about the occupation of Palestine by Israel, and I made a call for divestment from Israel from Ohio University.
Nora Barrows-Friedman: And what was the immediate response from your community, other student senators, and then the broader media after that?
MM: It took about a day to really get any response. Keep in mind, I made this video just hoping that maybe one or two people would become interested in BDS on campus. So it took about a day for anything significant to happen. But quickly, the Zionist presence on campus began writing emails to the student senate, expressing distaste, and a misguided PR [public relations] member of student senate apologized on behalf of the student senate for my video — which then immediately linked the video and my personal political views to the student senate, and there was very quickly a national Zionist reaction.
So on Thursday, [4 September] the death threats started coming in; I received thousands of hate emails including death threats and rape threats, I was harassed on Facebook. On Thursday is when I disabled all social media. I should also say that on the day and the day after I had posted it, many of the people in my organizing community, social justice community, were reposting the video with enthusiasm. So the immediate response was very positive, and then the wider Zionist reaction is exactly in line with all Zionist reactions of anyone speaking out for Palestine.
On the Thursday following the Tuesday that I posted the video, I was called to meet with the executive vice president of the university, who is also the advisor for student senate. So we actually had a regular meeting scheduled, but when I came in, I was given a printout of an email of a death threat that was directed towards me and the president of the university, and was notified that criminal charges had already been pursued, and the protocol of this level of threat caused the Ohio University campus police to contact Homeland Security. So I was notified that Homeland Security was monitoring all hits of my name and the video on the Internet.
I was recommended to go into protective housing on campus, and to not walk alone, I was offered police escort, I was told to call immediately if any more threats were made.
In the days quickly after the video, there were immediate calls for my resignation. An overwhelming amount of calls for my resignation from local and international Zionist organizations, and just Zionists on their own behalf caling the university. The university president and vice president’s office was shut down for an entire day to field phone calls and emails from Zionists.
It’s very clear why the negative backlash has been really put in front of any support, because it’s very clear who has institutional power in this situation. We have a very highly-funded, supported by the university Zionist group called Hillel, which is in conjunction with Bobcats for Israel and [Alpha Epsilon Pi, a Jewish fraternity], we’re talking a lot of money and institutional support — whereas it’s very clear that those who would speak in support of me or really in support of Palestinian or Arab students not only do not have organizations who support them, they are at huge risk for their lives — their visas, their return home safely.
So there was not any organized support for me that night, which going into the meeting did not seem so dangerous; but as the next week went on, the death threats came in, the rape threats, the extremely horrendous media coverage, extremely biased, a lot of false reporting — the Thursday that I received the majority of death threats, I was obviously talking with police, communicating with Homeland Security, et cetera, I was unable to talk to journalists all day. I went to our main student newspaper that night, showed the highly-conservative editor who edits and manages all coverage of student senate — we have our existing problems — I showed him the death threats. I was getting emails from Homeland Security while I was talking to him, I explained to him what I explained to you. The next day, all that was in the papers was a quote of me saying I’ve received death threats.
So it was very clear from the beginning that we was not going to get accurate media coverage. I got no public support from the university at all, no public concern for my safety, et cetera, which is to be expected. I have been organizing direct action against the administration since my freshman year here.
- Megan Marzec
- Ohio University
- student activism
- Roderick McDavis
- Palestine Solidarity Legal Support Initiative
- Center for Constitutional Rights
- Bobcats for Israel
- Alpha Epsilon Pi
Permalink Naiyera replied on
It is very disturbing that freedom of speech is slowly fading away and Zionists are controlling every aspects of innocent citizens life.
Why it's is such a big deal that no body has right to express their view on Israel ??like people do for any other countries!
It's getting worse than 3rd world country. Sad affair.
Hold Fast Megan!
Permalink Wendilyn Emrys replied on
The Zionists are Bullies, like all Fascists. Be strong, Do Not Resign. Tell the Trolls to get stuffed. On a positive note, all those Bullying Zionists will now be investigated by Homeland Security and the NSA for breaking the law. Arrogant aholes don't realize it is AGAINST the law to make death and rape threats!
While I think she has noble
Permalink Adam Robert Sherman replied on
While I think she has noble intent, the situation between Israel and Palestine is actually a bit more complex.
I'm pretty damn fearful that there's going to be a point where both sides get so damn vicious, it'll be near-impossible to tell who's the aggressor and who's the agressee.
I also can't help but pesimistically think that the one day that peace will come to the Middle East, is when all of it (Iraq, Iran, Israel, Palestine, etc.) becomes a smoking crater.
Megan Marzec's brave stand
Permalink John Davies replied on
It is, apparently, 'near-impossible to tell who's the aggressor and who's the agressee'. Surely not in the case of Ms Marzec? Who has she 'aggressed?'. Come off the fence and stand up for free speech!
Permalink George baker replied on
It's easy to tell the difference between aggressor and victim. Simply identify who the occupier is and who the occupied is. Simple.
Permalink David Deutsch replied on
There is no problem telling the aggressor from the victim and it is not so complicated either. From Day ONe, the aggressor has been the Zionists grabbing land and oppressing the indigenous people, period.
(BTW -- it occurred to me today that Jews spent 4 times as long in diaspora as they did in the ancient land. Arabs have been in the region 3 times longer than ancient Hebrews ruled the ancient land. All Zionist claims are nonsense.)
Let me congratulate you on
Permalink Ali replied on
Let me congratulate you on your bravery and I know its very difficult to stand toll when there are so many threats but you will have to stay tall. Thumbs up to you.
No arrests have been made?
Permalink Philippa replied on
Are we supposed to believe that several death threats have been made and that Homeland Security has been unable to identify even ONE responsible party?
Permalink Wendilyn Emrys replied on
Doubt they arrest everyone who makes a threat. If the person has no priors they might give them a talking to. If they think they are part of a criminal conspiracy they would probably put them under observation before arrest. I doubt we hear of half the people they pick up. Unless family makes a big stink over it. Usually it is the FBI that investigates death threats like this. There must have been a component of the threats that brought in HS.
Megan Marzec blood bucket
Permalink Percy Wee replied on
Well done - admiration & respect for standing up vs these crazies. It is shameful that your uni management is so craven not to stand with you + the bought & paid for public press.
Good that Ohio U faculty
Permalink Diane V. McLoughlin replied on
Good that Ohio U faculty published a letter of support for Megan Marzac. And also, good that Ohio U admin reacted swiftly in regard to the personal safety of all involved. It seems to me that permitting nationalist groups to organize on campus risks sowing divisiveness. Illuminating the cruel occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people is making headway. Megan unfortunately seems to have inadvertently been a lightning rod in this instance, causing her to endure a horrendous ordeal.
Permalink David Carlson replied on
For your courage and activism! We stand in solidarity with you....BDS for Justice!
Thank you, Ms. Marzec
Permalink Jeff Monkman replied on
I am truly amazed and inspired with your insight and conviction to provide this message. The majority of USA has a biased and ignorant understanding of the Middle East. Though it won't open all minds to look closer at the Palestine occupation, your message can open the discussion for many.
With private and social media tracking being perfected for less credible uses, it should follow that irrational people can be found. Thank you so much for your courage!
Permalink pat replied on
It was a brilliant way to get attention on the horrors of the Palestinian torture and genocide at the hands of psychopathic zionist occupiers since the zionist owned media has blocked any truth or revelation of the conditions in their devastated homeland.
Having seen the vile attacks on her character and her loss of her senate position at the "university" which is clearly the puppet of zionist masters, as are congress and the chief et al, Ms Marzec has paid and likely will continue to pay a steep price for her courage. We all need to have the balls of this young woman and more fearlessness to speak up and stand up against evil. It's already the 11th hour. The Palestinians are us, we are in stealth kill mode, but we see the gnarled teeth of the monster when its criticized or has light shined on its actions. This is the "new world order".
"To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize." Voltaire