Palestine solidarity activists disrupt speech by 'Homeland' TV series creator
Milwaukee, WI – Nearly 50 Palestine solidarity activists disrupted a speech hosted by the Israel Center of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation on Jan. 30. The event featured Ron Leshem, the original producer of the Israeli television series Hatufim, which was adapted for U.S. television as the series Homeland.
The event “TV: An Israeli Success Story” was designed to laud Israel's cultural achievements in arts and entertainment while using those talking points to ignore or whitewash Israel’s illegal existence on stolen land. During the lecture, Leshem described his use of writing to humanize his subjects, who are often members of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), and showed a clip of an Israeli prisoner displaying his scars. Leshem spoke of shaping global public opinion, telling the “other side of the story,” and of making Israeli media more “cosmopolitan.”
20 minutes into the presentation, an activist stood in front of Leshem and loudly announced “Occupation is not cosmopolitan, it’s genocide! If you want to understand the other side, listen to the 2002 Palestinian call for academic and cultural boycott of Israel. Stop filming on occupied territory, stop touring with the IDF, stop advocating for Israel. Occupation is not entertainment!”
During the interruption, about 50 activists in the front of the room wearing t-shirts that read “Occupation is not education” and “Boycott Israel” stood up and slowly filed out of the event. About 30 people remained in the room, many hurling insults as the activists walked out.
Israel funding campus propaganda
With Palestine solidarity activism growing on U.S. campuses, Israel has poured millions of dollars into public relations to counter the success of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. A 2013 move by the Jewish Agency for Israel will allocate $300 million a year to fund pro-Israel events, most of which will fund events on U.S. campuses, according to watchdogs.
Campus activist groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine have found success in neutralizing pro-Israel events with walk-outs, disruptions, mock checkpoints and other direct actions.
Ihsan Atta, member of the Milwaukee Palestine Solidarity Coalition states, “As Zionist groups continue to invite speakers who promote hatred and discrimination, we will continue to be there to remind them that oppressing the civilian population of Palestine is not acceptable nor will it be tolerated.”