The local chapter of Israel on Campus brought a soldier from the Israel ‘Defense’ Force (IDF) to the University of Western Ontario. Our campus was one of many stops on the “Our Soldiers Speak” tour. Sergeant Benjamin Anthony has been visiting campuses to tell students about his ‘glorious’ work as an instrument of the Israeli government. He began his speech here in London, Ontario by boasting about his role as a machine-gunner who has carried out raids.
But approximately 150 protestors were ready to condemn the IDF. Many of us wore the names of children who were murdered during Operation Cast Lead, which began in December, 2008. Some of us also wore red shirts, at the protest.
Activists passed around flyers and a petition from the Canadian Boat to Gaza while we were waiting for the speaker (who arrived more than half an hour after the event was scheduled to begin). One of the event organizers grabbed the petition and left the room with it. Others had to chase him get the petition back — at which point he only could feebly tell us that the petition shouldn’t be passed around, then and there.
The lights also were turned off repeatedly while we were waiting. No one told us why any of that was happening.
The room had been over capacity, so the police officers who were there had turned people away. (We can only guess at how many more protestors or zionists would have been there, otherwise.)
Shortly after the speaker finally arrived, just about everyone at the event walked out of the room. Here is a cell phone video from the protest.
His statement about his ‘non-political’ presentation (which you can hear him say in this video) should be enough to show how Sergeant Anthony was there to offer poorly veiled propaganda, on behalf of the Israeli regime that he has been serving. Of course, we were criticized for not taking an interest in what he had to say, but why should we accept his efforts to ‘justify,’ normalize, and deny brutality? The event wasn’t arranged for the sake of education or dialogue.
After we left the presentation, the room nearly was emptied out. At this stop on the tour, the IDF’s presentation was peacefully disrupted, and condemned.
After we walked out of the presentation, a large group gathered outdoors, for a brief rally — until one of the police officers followed us outside. Although we were in front of the ‘community centre’ building, we would have been expected to have official approval before we had a group assembly there.