Students for Justice in Palestine
The Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee, the GSAS Alliance for Justice in the Middle East, and the Harvard Law School Justice for Palestine stand in solidarity with activists who were physically assaulted by a mob at the University of New Mexico (UNM) while peacefully protesting an Islamophobic event.
On Thursday evening, the UNM Israel Alliance hosted a speech by Nonie Darwish, a notorious Islamophobe who has called Islam “a poison to society.” Darwish is a member of the speakers’ bureau of the extremist Zionist group StandWithUs and a fixture of the right-wing lecture circuit.
In order to draw attention to Darwish’s record of racist statements, student activists peacefully disrupted the talk with a “mic check” — a brief intervention in which audience members stand up to collectively voice their opposition to the speaker. Video footage on Youtube shows that audience members charged at the protesters, and hit, punched, and scratched them before forcibly ejecting them from the room. Most of the attackers were adult males, many of the victims were young or teenaged women. At least one of the victims’ phones was also destroyed. According to media reports, no arrests have been made.
While Palestine solidarity activists in the U.S. and U.K. have been the target of harassment and demonization for years, we note an escalating pattern of physical violence against them as well. Last week at the London School of Economics, pro-Israel students threw water balloons at a street theater event demonstrating a checkpoint in Palestine. Last year, a member of the Israeli lobby group AIPAC assaulted a protester disrupting Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress, resulting in her hospitalization.
We condemn all of these attacks and note that while Palestine solidarity activists are consistently demonized as supporters of violence by Zionist organizations, actual violence by defenders of Israel’s racist policies remains largely unpunished by authorities.
We also note that attacks on protesters are not simply a problem of mob violence, but have been pursued by the government as well. We reiterate our solidarity with the “Irvine 11” protesters who were unfairly prosecuted for demonstrating at a speech by Israeli ambassador Michael Oren.