“The Lobby" - Al Jazeera Documentary

Translation / Interpretation / Caption Text

Sighting: George Mason University - 2016

Curator's note: The scene depicted above shows a group organized by Stand With Us confronting attendees at the Students for Justice In Palestine conference at George Mason University

The scene is from Al Jazeera's documentary "The Lobby"



Which brings me to the one short segment in the entire document that made me smile, the comedic and failed astroturfing “protest” where the recruited students were clearly uncomfortable with the activity they had been paid to engage in, namely disrupt the SJP conference at George Mason University.  (“Astroturfing” is “fake grassroots” activism, which relies on paid protesters or supporters). We are shown the astroturf students repeating after Yael Lerman Mazar, StandWithUs director of academic affairs: “SJP is a hate group, BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] is a hate movement,” but the lack of conviction is painful, almost pathetic, when the fakes come face to face with the real grassroots, the student organizers with SJP. I was reminded of my own encounter with “pro-Israel” student protesters when I gave a talk a few years ago at the University of California in San Diego. StandWithUs had found out, probably through their student spies, that I was scheduled to give a talk, and published a flyer about me to their students, with a list of eight questions that were meant to “stump” me, along with a strongly-worded caution not to ask other questions.  Clearly, SWU does not trust its paid protesters to think for themselves. I announced that I had no intention of being derailed by the StandWithUs questions, and two rows of students walked out.