> ><http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2000/12/18/ED137237.DTL> > > >Netanyahu Protest Did Not Dishonor The Free-Speech Movement >Barbara Lubin Monday, December 18, 2000 > >DEMONSTRATORS at former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's canceled >speech at Berkeley Community Theatre on Nov. 28 did not "block" his >appearance. > >The decision to cancel should be blamed on Netanyahu himself, the event's >promoter and the Berkeley police, who were angry at not being notified about >the protest. We certainly were not responsible for cancellation of >Netanyahu's two other lectures in San Mateo and Marin County. > >We demonstrators did not intend to, nor expect to, prevent the speech. We >did what we have done whenever someone with as shameful a record as >Netanyahu has comes to Berkeley: We registered our dissent -- nonviolently. > >We hoped to make Netanyahu feel unwelcome. We wanted to tell him that many >Americans oppose Israeli policies toward Palestinians. We wanted our voices, >which are usually ignored, heard in the mainstream media. > >Nobody, not Netanyahu nor those attending the lecture, was ever in danger. >We planned to sit down after the protest and expected that the police would >move or arrest us. Our opposition would be public; the event would proceed >with little trouble. We extended Netanyahu far more freedom of expression >than he offered Palestinians just for flying the Palestinian flag while he >was prime minister. > >Contrary to assertions that we sullied Berkeley's proud tradition of free >speech, our demonstration honored that tradition. This was true democracy in >action. But Netanyahu recoiled when confronted with peaceful opponents he >could not send his army out to bludgeon. > >What I find most ridiculous is the amount of outrage mustered to defend the >free-speech rights of a man who has almost unlimited access to the >international media, while we who oppose him must demonstrate to be heard. >Where were their voices of outrage when Israeli soldiers gunned down unarmed >Palestinian children? > >I find it curious that these so-called guardians of free speech never before >felt the urge to complain about acts of civil disobedience during >appearances by former United Nations Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, for >example, or Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. > >I think what is really going on is not an effort to preserve free speech but >an attempt to stifle the free speech of anyone who would criticize Israel. >---- >Barbara Lubin is former school board president and executive director of the >Middle East Children's Alliance in Berkeley.
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