Young activist disrupts AIPAC panel about ‘Israel on Campus’

ActivismIsrael/PalestineUS Politics
on 39 Comments

From Young, Jewish and Proud:

Liza Behrendt, 22 year old member of Young Jewish and Proud, the youth wing of Jewish Voice for Peace, stood up during a breakout session called “The Struggle to Secure Israel on Campus” to call attention to the silencing of Palestinians— and young Jews who support them — on U.S. campuses.  Liza stood on stage and unfurled a banner that read, “Settlements Betray Jewish Values” and “Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof,” the Jewish text from Deuteronomy meaning “Justice, Justice, You Shall Pursue.”

The panel included representatives from AIPAC, Stand With Us, The David Project, and Hillel, who discussed tactics for opposing human rights groups on campus, an in particular those that promote the use of Boycott, Divestment or Sanctions (BDS) to pressure Israel to be accountable to international law.  Panelist Wayne Firestone, CEO of Hillel, last year issued controversial guidelines barring Hillel groups from partnering with organizations that support any facet of the BDS movement or that lack a specifically Zionist stance.  “I felt it was necessary to confront Wayne Firestone, whose condescending guidelines barred my Brandeis University chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace from joining Hillel last spring.  Hillel’s guidelines are part of organized efforts to enforce an ideological status quo among young Jews on Israel, but they are completely out of touch with what’s happening among young people,” said Liza Behrendt.   

AIPAC enticed over 1,000 students to attend this year’s policy summit, including over 200 student body presidents, mostly by subsidizing their trips to DC.  This morning student activists distributed hundreds of copies of an open letter ( from members of Students for Justice in Palestine and Young Jewish Proud to AIPAC student delegates that highlights the myths and realities of AIPAC.

This effort to draw attention to the silencing of Palestinians and young Jewish activists is part of a weekend long series of activities to highlight the destructive practices of AIPAC.  A separate group of Jewish activists from Jews Say No and Just Foreign Policy went inside the AIPAC conference and gave interviews to journalists, in which they stressed that AIPAC doesn’t represent the majority of American Jews who oppose war with Iran and who want the US to oppose settlement expansion in the West Bank.  Activists held daylong protests outside the AIPAC conference. 

Timed to coincide with the AIPAC policy conference, Occupy AIPAC ( is a coalition effort initiated by CODEPINK: Women for Peace and endorsed by Occupy Wall Street, Occupy DC, and over 130 organizations, including Jewish Voice for Peace, Interfaith Peace Builders, Jews Say No, Just Foreign Policy, US Palestinian Community Network and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. The purpose of the week of actions is to urge Obama to reject the Israeli administration’s push for war on Iran, insist on respect for Palestinian rights, and draw attention to the role of AIPAC as a special interest lobby that maintains a stranglehold over US policies.

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39 Responses

  1. DICKERSON3870
    March 4, 2012, 9:49 pm

    RE: “A separate group of Jewish activists…went inside the AIPAC conference and gave interviews to journalists, in which they stressed that AIPAC doesn’t represent the majority of American Jews who oppose war with Iran…” ~ From Young, Jewish and Proud


    Please help Tikkun/NSP run the following ad in major American newspapers.

    No Mr. Netanyahu, No President Obama:
    No War on Iran and No First Strike

    Some who have signed this ad believe that the best path for homeland security is through rejecting the old-fashioned “domination strategy” to get your way…

    …Click HERE to see a draft of how this ad would look in the newspaper.

    If you would like to help Tikkun/NSP run this ad, please make a donation.

  2. Newclench
    March 4, 2012, 9:54 pm

    Good for Liza.

    • Krauss
      March 5, 2012, 2:07 am

      Taking back Judaism one step at a time from the pro-Apartheid crowd!

      Go Liza!

      • seafoid
        March 5, 2012, 10:02 am

        The pro-Israel lobby is today deployed like a juggernaut against any rational discussion

  3. Bill in Maryland
    March 4, 2012, 11:17 pm

    God bless Liza Behrendt, YJP & JVP- I hope they are able to prick the consciences of the AIPAC attendees.

  4. Pixel
    March 4, 2012, 11:27 pm

    GO, LISA!!!


  5. kalithea
    March 5, 2012, 12:05 am

    There’s Democracy and then there’s the Zionist version: DemocraZy.

  6. radii
    March 5, 2012, 12:12 am

    drip drip drip

    this is how you break the rigid content of the zionist/israel propaganda machine

    … more please

  7. anonymouscomments
    March 5, 2012, 12:15 am

    good job. i wish there were more brave jews standing up to the AIPAC BS. last year netanyahu was interrupted multiple times… let’s hope for a repeat.

  8. Wonder Bunder
    March 5, 2012, 12:16 am

    Remarkable. She exemplifies courage and integrity. I wish we had politicians in Congress and the White House who had half as much.

  9. Annie Robbins
    March 5, 2012, 1:21 am

    i’m in love

    • anonymouscomments
      March 5, 2012, 8:20 am

      i just posted this from yesterday

      a brave israeli who attended occupy AIPAC, and spoke very eloquently at various points in the weekend. consider making this a MW story if you think it is worthy (i think the merit as an article is borderline, but he was the only israeli i knew of attending occupy AIPAC, and israelis and american jews/non-jews could benefit from hearing such views from an israeli)

    • seafoid
      March 5, 2012, 9:59 am

      What about MJ?

  10. Ellen
    March 5, 2012, 3:18 am

    Brave brave woman. Good for her.

  11. HRK
    March 5, 2012, 4:11 am


    I was such a kid at 22, I can’t imagine doing anything like that!

  12. Wonder Bunder
    March 5, 2012, 4:54 am

    So these young, proud Jewish activists stand up in a convention hall full of Zionists and loudly and unabashedly denounce Israel’s racist and unjust policies.

    Immediately thereafter, the most powerful man in the world is addressing the same convention, groveling before them, proclaiming how he is the most pro-Israeli President in U.S. history and that he will not hesitate to sacrifice American blood and treasure for a foreign power who has unfettered access to our elected officials.

    Ironic, no?

  13. justicewillprevail
    March 5, 2012, 6:39 am

    And when the youngster pointed out that the emperor had no clothes, suddenly everyone saw the truth of the charge…

  14. LeaNder
    March 5, 2012, 7:21 am

    Annie et al, I’d appreciate your help, I can only guess at the exact word she says at around 2:15 below. Basically?

    So we were basically told that because we actively opposed settlements that we were not *ly Jewish

    Actually it would interesting to have more information about what exactly was said in this context.

    • Annie Robbins
      March 5, 2012, 8:30 am

      “So we were basically told that because we actively opposed settlements that we were not sufficiently Jewish”

      • LeaNder
        March 5, 2012, 8:51 am

        thanks, Annie, sufficiently, of course works well. ;)

      • Annie Robbins
        March 5, 2012, 9:04 am

        ;) anytime time LeaNder, my pleasure.

  15. proudzionist777
    March 5, 2012, 7:24 am

    “Are you the woman who disrupted the conference”. “Yes”. “Can I ask you a few questions for my school newspaper”. “No you may not” .

    Liza is big on screeching her views but will not dialogue or give someone a chance to ask the questions.


    • anonymouscomments
      March 5, 2012, 8:43 am

      how would comments to a school newspaper represent any effective “dialogue”? BTW i am very sure she dialogues ALL THE TIME, just not after an action for which she may face charges and needs to control the message coming from her side.

      also your inane comment?? seems to avoid DIALOGUE about the topic, and skirts the issue with insulting generalizations when you have no supporting facts or knowledge about the person or her actions, outside of a fleeting denial of comment to a school rag.

      the action stands for itself. comments which are often selectively quoted and even misquoted for a school newspaper? why would she bother with such a distraction, which carries literal risk to herself and her message.

      i was just selectively quoted, and effectively misquoted, in the jpost today.

      grow up and start actually “dialoguing” or better yet…. stop the hasbara, diversion, and the support for injustice.

    • Annie Robbins
      March 5, 2012, 8:48 am

      pz, it was not liza turning down the student, it was the authority from the conference telling the young reporter they could not interview her.

    • Shingo
      March 6, 2012, 8:08 am

      Liza is big on screeching her views but will not dialogue or give someone a chance to ask the questions.

      I love the way you invert reality ProusdFascist777.

      She made it clear that she was denied a chance to participate at Hillel, not the other way around.

  16. Chespirito
    March 5, 2012, 7:25 am

    Liza Behrendt for President! Nicely done.

  17. Annie Robbins
    March 5, 2012, 8:35 am

    we just had a big earthquake here in california

  18. weindeb
    March 5, 2012, 9:20 am

    Call it an extraordinary display of chutzpah in a just cause or call it heroism by a young and courageous person with a very loud voice, doesn’t matter. Liza stands as an example for those of us, Jew and otherwise, to do what should and must be done on behalf of simple decency, human rights, international law, and, yes, sanity.

  19. seafoid
    March 5, 2012, 11:06 am

    It’s really important for US Jews to stand up to the Zionist machine. Israel can still be saved. I think this quote of the Baal Shem Tov (aka the Besht) , the founder of Hasidism, should be read out at every disrupted Zionist meeting

    “As long as a diseased limb is connected with the body, there is hope that it may be saved; but, once amputated, it is gone, and there is no hope.”

    • seafoid
      March 5, 2012, 11:18 am

      From the same link

      “The foundation-stone of Ḥasidism as laid by Besht is a strongly marked pantheistic conception of God. He declared the whole universe, mind and matter, to be a manifestation of the Divine Being; that this manifestation is not an emanation from God, as is the conception of the Cabala, for nothing can be separated from God: all things are rather forms in which He reveals Himself. When man speaks, said Besht, he should remember that his speech is an element of life, and that life itself is a manifestation of God. Even evil exists in God. This seeming contradiction is explained on the ground that evil is not bad in itself, but only in its relation to man. It is wrong to look with desire upon a woman; but it is divine to admire her beauty: it is wrong only in so far as man does not regard beauty as a manifestation of God, but misconceives it, and thinks of it in reference to himself. Nevertheless, sin is nothing positive, but is identical with the imperfections of human deeds and thought. Whoever does not believe that God resides in all things, but separates Him and them in his thoughts, has not the right conception of God. It is equally fallacious to think of a creation in time: creation, that is, God’s activity, has no end. God is ever active in the changes of nature: in fact, it is in these changes that God’s continuous creativeness consists”
      The Baal Shem Tov would have supported justice for the Palestinians.

  20. hophmi
    March 5, 2012, 11:15 am

    Who is silencing these people? This is nonsense. Hillel, AIPAC, Stand With Us, and The David Project have no obligation to provide everyone who puts “Jewish” in the name of their organization with a platform.

    What has Young, Jewish, and Proud done to incorporate mainstream Israeli voices into their movement? If they wouldn’t allow Hillel activists to speak at their meetings, why would Hillel allow their activists to speak at Hillel meetings?

    • teta mother me
      March 5, 2012, 3:03 pm

      When Amy Jill Levine wants to refute claims of “Christians” that Jesus was more moral than, say Pharisees, she cites Hillel’s one-foot explication of the Law and the Prophets: “Do unto others what you would have others do unto you. The rest is commentary. Go and learn it.”

      Is that the same Hillel as the college Hillel that provides backing for anti-Islamic activism by young Jews on US college campuses?

      If so, Does Amy Jill Levine know that?

    • eGuard
      March 5, 2012, 5:31 pm

      hophmi: … incorporate mainstream Israeli voices into their movement

      Hillel is about Jewish life on campusus. Why do you introduce “Israeli”? Do you know there is a difference?

    • Shingo
      March 6, 2012, 8:10 am

      Hillel, AIPAC, Stand With Us, and The David Project have no obligation to provide everyone who puts “Jewish” in the name of their organization with a platform.

      Actually, they do when they profess to represent Jews.

  21. Theo
    March 5, 2012, 11:34 am

    You may not noticed it, but most of these brave young people who speak up and disturb zionist meetings are females!!!!
    Do they have more balls than the men?

  22. eGuard
    March 5, 2012, 2:07 pm

    AIPAC does not give a live feed form the speeches. What could they be afraid of?

  23. Talkback
    March 6, 2012, 7:21 pm

    I find it very disturbing that she says “Settlements betray JEWISH values”. As if its not important enough that they “betray” the values of Nonjews, too.

    Reminds me of Gilad Atmon’s book about Jewish identity politics.

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