On Sunday night Nov 14, a group of pro Israel supporters attended a Jewish Voice for Peace meeting at the South Berkeley Senior Center. The Jewish Voice for Peace meeting was a celebration of a group of 5 activists who had heckled Netanyahu's appearance at the GA in New Orleans, a fact carefully omitted from subsequent JVP incident reports. The group, calling themselves "Young Jewish and Proud" is already inspiring parodies across the web.
Inspired by famed community organizer Saul Alinsky whose 1971 publication Rules for Radicals stresses “the difference between being a realistic radical and a rhetorical one.”, the pro-Israel activists used the meeting as an opportunity to heckle the hecklers- to give them "a taste of their own medicine".
From 'Rules for Radicals"
Rule 3: Whenever possible, go outside the experience of an opponent. Here you want to cause confusion, fear, and retreat.
Rule 4: Make opponents live up to their own book of rules.
Rule 5: Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It’s hard to counterattack
ridicule, and it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.
The activists succeeded. Frequent interruptions made it impossible to continue the meeting, and it was effectively shut down, with many people simply walking out. Conflicts over filming and photography escalated into a much publicized attack, followed swiftly by a cyber-attack directed towards the victim, a 58 year old disabled woman. Robin Dubner, an attorney, ethical vegetarian and animal rights activist who frequently speaks for the silenced voices in our community was physically isolated and attacked, and responded by pepper-spraying her assailants. JVP tweeted, spammed and mass marketed their version of the events across cyberspace in an effort to intimidate the pro-Israel activists into submission. It has failed. The truth can not be silenced.
How ironic that the group that claims to be "muzzled" celebrates the "muzzling" of people that don't share their point of view. How ironic that the group that claims to be "muzzled" refuses to allow comments on their blog.
JVP phoned the incident into the Berkeley police department as a " riot". 6 squad cars, 1 firetruck and an ambulance showed up at the scene. One assault. One pepper spraying. Two brief musical interludes reminiscent of the Titanic.
And hopeful a reminder to all (or at least to the smart ones) that the only real way to achieve peace is with dialog, mutual respect and compassion.