We live in a university community where the "peace" and other "progressive" organizations have been largely co-opted or intimidated by pro-Israel influences and no Palestinian perspective had been visible before our project. The university community had been kept in hand by Hillel, Stand With Us, Campus Watch and AIPAC interns ever watchful for faculty and students unfriendly toward Israel. This has increased with the growing effectiveness of the BDS movement, with university campuses specifically targeted by the pro-Israel propaganda machine.
We use numerous methods to break up this McCarthyesque perversion of the educational environment, including op-eds and letters-to-the-editor in both community and student newspapers and co-sponsorship with student organizations of educational events on Palestine, Palestinian rights and Israeli abuses of human rights. This has included numerous Israeli and other Jewish presenters.
In order to address evolving current events and issues in the Israel/Palestine dynamic, our public display from April through October changes over time as we incorporate what we consider the most honest and salient writings on recent events by journalists, authors, historians, international legal authorities, and other highly qualified commentators.
We opportunistically use events in the community and the news to raise community awareness. For example, following the Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in international waters and massacre of nine Turkish humanitarian workers on the Turkish-flagged vessel Mavi Marmara on Memorial Day 2010, we petitioned the Eugene Human Rights Commission to issue a letter of condemnation against Israel for their illegal attack in international waters, multiple murders, piracy, kidnapping, property theft, and false imprisonment of passengers and crew of all flotilla vessels. We invoked legal standing as citizens of a country that supports Israeli abuses financially and protects them from justice through UN Security Council vetoes, and identified nine U.S.-made weapons systems used in the Israeli attack.
Like our other actions, this met with vigorous resistance from the pro-Israel Jewish organizations in our county and deliberate disinformation about us and our objectives. Although the commission was initially favorable, massive protest at a subsequent meeting by Jewish Federation members scuttled the project through flagrant intimidation. A Jewish speaker said, "Please keep silent on this matter or send a letter of honor to Israel, lest you be tagged with the label of anti-Semitism and limit the good work you could do at home in Eugene." (Imagine, a letter of honor for murder, piracy, grand theft, kidnapping and false imprisonment! Now that's supreme chutzpah!)
But win or lose, these public challenges serve an important function, creating opportunities to raise public awareness by flushing them into the open where they are forced into a public debate they cannot ultimately win.
The Israel defense network and lobby is dedicated, relentless, intensive and unscrupulous at the national, regional and local levels. We aren't sure to what depths of perfidy they will stoop, but this uncertainty is intrinsic to their strategies of intimidation, following Moshe Dayan's prescription for Israel to "be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother."
Was the example above merely a threat of name-calling or something more sinister? That is the doubt that skilled intimidators attempt to implant. It is nothing less than non-specific extortion. But based as it is upon a crumbling foundation of injustice and lies, it is doomed to ultimately fail and self-destruct through its own arrogant and alienating hubris.
Demand Freedom, Justice and Equality in the Holy Land