Yesterday, in response to "Israel Apartheid Week" activities at Columbia by Students for Justice in Palestine (“SJP”) and Jewish Voice for Peace (“JVP”), the groups Artists 4 Israel and Students Supporting Israel put up a counter demonstration with a huge inflated Pinocchio opposite the "Apartheid Wall."
The BDSers were not amused.
Here is the account from Craig Dershowitz of Artists4Israel:
The Pinocchio had the intended effect of drawing attention to the A4I & SSI area where students were abe to read information explaining Israel’s diversity, arts culture and attempts at peaceful coexistence with their neighbors even while suffering from terrorism and hate. Many other students lined up to take pictures with this childhood icon and hold an Israeli flag expressing their support for Israel’s right to exist in peace and safety.
Seeing the overwhelming response to Pinocchio, SJP and JVP began working furiously to have it removed so that their lies could continue uncontested. At first they pulled the SSI students over to say the Pinocchio was offensive, too massive and caused too much student participation. JVP members even made the ridiculous claim that Pinocchio’s large nose was anti-Semitic.
When approached by Artists 4 Israel’s Project Manager with his phone recording it, they retreated and returned with the Student Government Chairman and Vice Chairman. These two positions happen to be held by students who are also members of SJP!
They now had a new story and said that it had to be taken down before “three big security guards come by and force you to”. Their justifications for this limit on free speech was that the Pinocchio did not fit under the “large structure” approval and that it was unsafe. They feared what would happen if a balloon fell down!
The students with Pinocchio, in a sign of good faith, removed Pinocchio and agreed to a meeting at 4pm EST to discuss the issue further and receive “proper” permission to host it the next day. They attempted to bury the students under massive paperwork by requesting a number of extraneous items and information. The students still provided it all and, as of 10:19pm EST is still awaiting a decision. The SJP led Student Government has effectively silenced the Jewish and pro-Israel students for today and tomorrow.
You can see video of both displays here:
The Columbia student paper wrote a ridiculous article against the Pinocchio:
In response this week’s mock apartheid wall as a part of this year’s Israeli Apartheid Week, Students Supporting Israel (SSI) constructed a Pinocchio display on College Walk directly across from the mock wall. This follows Israeli Apartheid flyer vandalization earlier this week. A tipster sent us the photo below of the display as of early this afternoon. The display is believed to be an $800 blow-up doll.The founder of SSI responded:
According to a source, SSI was recently formed by a GS student and only has a handful of active members. They may be considered the “right-wing fringe” for the pro-Israel movement. Please note that SSI is not affiliated with Aryeh, Hillel, or other pro-Israel groups on campus.
1) The pinnochio was donated by a friend of Rudy's, who runs Artists for Israel. The banners were loaned to us by StandWithUs. Yes, we got it for FREE. All of it.
2) Implicitly accusing us of vandalizing the fliers is libel and warrants legal action if the accusation isn't taken down. We had nothing to do with the ApartheidDivest poster vandalism. In fact, I didn't even know about it until I read this article. SSI firmly believes in free speech, which is why we never shouted down any anti-Israel speaker or CUAD demonstration no matter how hateful or full of lies we found it. I'm sure the security camera footage can confirm our innocence. So yeah, framing us isn't going to work here.
3) I have no idea how anyone construes us as right wing extremists. We don't take a side on the one/two state solution issue, and we believe firmly in coexistence which is the opposite of the right wing (Kahanist) stance on Israel. I think it makes us inclusive, not extremist. We have done nothing this semester to show that we are extremist, come to our events or visit us at our setup this week and see for yourself.
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