Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Embedded reporter (and former student) tells it like it was


"Dear Professor Finkelstein,

When we first heard that former Israeli PM Ehud Olmert was coming to the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, about 30 of us Palestinian activists (mainly students) RSVP’d.

We arrived at the event. They checked our names off and gave us pink wristbands to go in. But once you were in, no re-entry was allowed. So we stayed in the lobby and waited for other activists. We all gathered together and planned out what would be an internal disruption. We were to each stand up and say something to disrupt Olmert’s speech every 2 minutes or so. Some of us would also be holding a banner from the balcony, facing Olmert that said “Goldstone Report” to make him nervous during his speech. While we were doing this, of course a protest would also be held outside.........

Olmert comes in to speak, and after literally 10 seconds from the beginning of his speech, Ali Abunimah disrupts him, standing up and saying that a war criminal should not have freedom of expression, and also expressed his disappointment with his Alma Mater for inviting a murderer. He was escorted out by the police.........

I believe that Thursday was a huge success for us. Olmert didn’t get to speak. About 30 of us stood up and interrupted him throughout his speech. He was constantly getting disrupted. As one of our disrupters said, a war criminal should never be allowed to speak unless it’s in front of an international court. I’m proud of the Chicago activist community for having the courage to look Olmert in the eye and tell him exactly what we feel.

A friend in Gaza contacted me and told me they heard what we did, and that people in Gaza were so proud of us in Chicago. It made me proud of what we did, and it was a historical day I will never forget. But Olmert is still on a speaking tour across America. His next stop: San Francisco. I hope the activists there come out strong and refuse to let him speak as well. As one the students who disrupted said, “Justice will be served.”

Dr. Finkelstein, I wish you were there. But no worries, you were there with us in spirit.

Sincerely, your former student, "

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