On Tuesday November 5 at 7:00 PM, George Mason University Students Against Israeli Apartheid conducted a walkout of the “My Israeli Arab Conflict,” featuring IDF Sgt. Benjamin Anthony from the organization “Our Soldiers Speak.” Although GMU’s CAMERA fellow and Israel Student Association promoted the event, the event was officially organized by Hillel and its director, Ross Diamond (according to the official university scheduling tool). While Hillel attempts to portray itself as non-political community space for Jewish students, this event highlights how the university’s paid staff are spearheading efforts to spread Zionist propaganda and hiding these efforts.
SAIA conducted a silent walkout to minimize disturbances and let those coming to hear the Zionist whitewashing listen to the speaker. The walkout was part of SAIA’s anti-normalization strategy that seeks to expose normalizing events, including IDF propaganda tours disguised as educational events. SAIA stands by the rights of other groups to voice their opinions, but will hold them accountable for supporting the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
SAIA refuses to allow the blatant promotion of militarism and occupation on the GMU campus. This militarism was exemplified by the heavy police presence at the event, five officers, and a checkpoint at the door where all attendees were forced to enter their names and Mason ID numbers. The violent militarism promoted by the Israel-affiliated clubs manifests in comments made by their members on social media, including the president of the Israel Student Association, who endorsed “ass beatings” for SAIA members (https://twitter.com/loveland_says/status/395281588797194241). In spite of this militaristic environment of intimidation, SAIA will continue its principled resistance to Israeli apartheid.