Chasing Out Israeli Arrogance:
Victory At Simon Fraser University
On March 15, 2004 Vancouver dealt a minor but important blow against racism and colonialism on Simon Fraser University campus. Mr. Ya'acov Brosh, an Israeli Consul General, was slated to give a speech to a small group of Zionists and supporters at an event held by student groups Hillel and the Israel Advocacy Committee beginning at 1:30pm.
For those of us in the audience who had never been through the daily humiliation that people in Palestine endure, we were treated to a checkpoint at the entrance door, having to open up our coats, where each person had their bags checked through by police who were there to protect the diplomat of the Settler Colony. Once inside, the final checkpoint was where the front row was reserved, to quote, "for Jews [read: Zionists] only".
At the outset of the event the audience was greeted with the usual fare: "Welcome!...Israel is 'the only democracy'... more scientists and museums than any other country..." Blah blah, ad nauseum. After this introduction, we were treated to a list of rules of conduct. Among those "rules" was that the moderator was going to disrupt any speaker saying anything that was deemed offensive. The moderator was asked if that would include racism in the Consul's talk. He laughed. And so the tone was set.
Zionists were badly outnumbered, as they provoked the Muslim Student Association by holding their inflammatory talk in the room adjoining where the MSA was to hold their annual elections, which were canceled for all MSA students to then attend the room next door in a show of solidarity and to oppose racism being given a forum on campus. Many of the things spoken were of the most ridiculous variety. A comment to begin the talk included "Israel is the only nation in the world today that has it's very existence threatened", where chants of country after country (Iraq? Palestine? Cuba? Venezuela? Every First Nation here? And so it goes...) were the indignant replies of the none-too-amused members of the audience.
Some people were asked to leave, to surrender the territory of the student population of Simon Fraser to this form of modern colonialism. "No," came the answer. "You get out. Get out of Palestine, get out of the West Bank, get out of Gaza, get out of the Golan Heights, and most importantly, get out of our school." This school has an explicitly anti-racist policy that people have been unwilling to enforce equally. Thus, we are forced to enforce it ourselves.
At one point early on, when a proud Palestinian refused to be silenced by Zionist lies, the Consul General spoke to him directly.
"I find you amusing. If someone wants to play the clown, I like it when they play the clown. I simply find it amusing," he said. But that's not the worst of it. I can't explain to you the look he had on his face. But if you'd ever experienced such a glare, you'd understand it. The look was the smug grin of power in the face of the powerless. It was the same kind of grin that was on the face of the white soldiers in apartheid South Africa as they harassed black children who were waiting for a bus. It was the same smirk that every rapist has as he flees his victim. It was the same contemptuous hate-filled arrogance that the Vancouver police wore as they beat women leaving the Waldorf Hotel last week. It is the same sickly grin that George W Bush, Ariel Sharon, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Martin wear when confronted with opposition to colonialism in Palestine, Iraq, Haiti and so many other beleaguered people. It makes the powerless understand what they are struggling against. It really was the "And what are you gonna do about it?" look.
Well, the answer (to start) is to wipe the grin off their faces. Brosh, after trying valiantly to spew his racist lies, was finally forced to leave. One must remember he is a diplomat. Diplomats are not supposed to lose their cool. Yet, in response to yet another of many pointed comments directly from the mouth of a Palestinian who refused to be silenced, he had, well, Alcoholics Anonymous would call it a "slip". His real attitude came out.
"You people are never going to win, do you understand? Never! It's people like you who make it so that you will always lose!"
After this enlightening piece of information, mostly drowned out by one man yelling at us all "Palestinians use suicide bombers!" so many times in succession I was convinced he needed to reset his record needle, the Consul General grabbed his briefcase and left the room. At this point, the look on his face was of sheer anger, disbelief and the shock of power seeing defiance. The look on his face also reminded me of another face. The angered look of War Criminal Benjamin Netanyahu, former Israeli PM, when he was chased off of the campuses of Montreal.
I guess you could say that they found out that the people who were born in Palestine will not have their old die and their young forget. It would be quite instructive to note that the Consul General was completely unwilling to make any comment on what he thought of the rights of First Nations and indigenous sovereignty. Yet Moshe Dayan, former Israeli military leader once spoke of indigenous issues (in 1956), as a man from the MSA read aloud this quote:
". . . Let us not today fling accusation at the murderers. What cause have we to complain about their fierce hatred to us? For eight years now, they sit in their refugee camps in Gaza, and before their eyes we turn into our homestead the land and villages in which they and their forefathers have lived.
[...]We are a generation of settlers, and without the steel helmet and gun barrel, we shall not be able to plant a tree or build a house. . . . Let us not be afraid to see the hatred that accompanies and consumes the lives of hundreds of thousands of Arabs who sit all around us [...] "
But the problem with this quote is that it misses the fact that the hatred is directed at what is being done to Palestine, not Jews or even Israelis per se. It is in the injustice of losing the right to go home to where you were born, and not live in a tent forever. It is hating the stealing of nearly all of the water from what little is left of Palestine.
I was summarily satisfied about one thing. This man thought he had the right to speak with impunity. He left angered and having suffered a defeat. But human rights and dignity took a great stride forward. We drew a line. No racism on our campuses & Zionism will be no exception to this rule.
In a fit of anger, one of the Zionists yelled at one of the Palestinians. He yelled "Go back to Palestine!" However, if this were possible, all of this anti-racist work would not be necessary. But I am sure I know the thinking of my Palestinian brothers and sisters when they hear that. "Go back? Oh, don't worry, we will. You just watch."