Watch the video. Listen to the audio.
The clip displays a civil protest and walkout organized by students at Wayne State University in Detroit during a lecture delivered by Jerusalem Post writer and IDF spokesman Gil Hoffman.
These students have certainly learned a lesson from the aftermath of the Irvine 11 debacle. Instead of shouting virulently at the speaker, these students sit silently with their mouths symbolically sealed with red tape. One could even say that they’ve taken the criticism launched at the Irvine 11 and turned it on its head. The students at WSU attempt to use silence to their advantage. Instead of being thrown out, the passive nature of the protest allows the lecture to proceed, however awkwardly, with an overwhelming majority of the people in the room clearly delivering a poignant opposing message, leaving them with a highly provocative video to show for their work. I am almost impressed with the ingenuity of these students’ tactics.
However, I do have reservations. If you watched the video with the volume up, you’ll notice that there is no audio from the events taking place in the lecture hall itself. There is a mildly catchy Arabic song playing instead (I may be partial). So I wonder whether the silent protest and walkout were really as silent as the protesters claim. They may not have been raising their voices, but hundreds of people getting up and shuffling about in synchrony is bound to have some effect of the audibility of the lecture. And I don’t even necessarily fault these students for that, nor do I claim that any noise made during the walkout was intentional. But I do wonder why the video makes those moments unavailable for the public to fully experience.
Do you think that this protest is a move in the right direction for those who seek to civilly and legally voice their anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian sympathies?
Or is this yet another example of one side of the story being sabotaged by the other?
As always, your thoughts are welcome in the comments section below.
The Arab groups on campus (be it at UCLA or any other university) have absolutely no respect or class.
The Walkout on Wayne State is yet another example of such.
Rather than actually here what a speaker has to say, they sit with their closed minds and are straight up disrespectful.
They clearly have no place for anyone’s respect.
It seems to me that you’re trying really hard to but some kind of blame on these students. I commend these students AND the Irvine 11 for their courage in making a stand towards a Pro-Palestinian cause.
@Danny, that is a very insulting and rude statement. The students were making a statement by walking out. Just because you don’t agree with this particular style of protesting doesn’t give you the right to insult these students, or ARAB students at universities in general.
Noor – your point is well-taken. I knew I was pushing it with the claim that their shuffling was noisy. However, imagine if the audio was included, and the students actually were more disruptive than they appear/sound in the video. That’s exactly the complaint you’d hear from many pro-Israel critics. If the point of these new tactics was to avoid such criticism, they missed a great opportunity by hiding the audio.
I really do have civil protesters’ backs. If everyone in the region employed such tactics, you’d have a fully recognized state far more quickly than it seems to be taking right now. So my criticism is only to point out the perceptiveness of pro-Israel audiences and to recommend wiser tactics for the future. The students at Wayne State are on the right track. (The Irvine 11 were not, and I’d be interested in hearing what you think they actually accomplished at some point.)
What I’m saying, to the pro-Israel audience, is that it doesn’t really matter. Who cares if they made a little bit of sound getting up and shuffling. If a large group of people are leaving a theater because the show is going past its allotted time, does one raise an argument?
With regards to the Irvine 1, what gives us the authority to decide whether or not they were on the ‘right track’? I applaud the Irvine 11 for having the courage to stand up to Oren, and get their point across. And even if the audience didn’t get the point, the whole controversy and the trial has raised a lot of awareness on the Israeli occupation of Palestine. I think it worked out beautifully.
I think this type of protest is fine. Just like at the UN where they didn’t agree with the speaker so they walked out. The protest didn’t try and drown out the speaker, but at the same time the protest made its point. Whether you agree with the opinion of the protesters or not, this method of protest is more respectful and in my mind productive than the events at Irvine