Confronting a Former Israeli Soldier At Towson University

Today, a former Israeli soldier Aaron Oldenberg was scheduled to give a speech at Towson University. The speech was sponsored by the Towson Hillel. Three Freedom2Boycott members decided to attend this event to challenge the propaganda that Mr. Oldenberg was spreading. The soldier's false statements were confronted vigorously before police ejected the questioners. Watch video of the confrontation:

The transcript of this exchange is shown below:

Ronda Cooperstein: I went to Towson years ago, I was on this campus 40 years ago protesting Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian Land, its theft of resources and theft of property, its horrible behavior toward most of them innocent people—not everyone is innocent…they’re not terrorists. I visited the West Bank in the ‘80s, no other Jewish people were there then, except to sit with Palestinians… so I saw firsthand 40 years ago, and for you to say “Jews protecting Jews,” I find that just reprehensible because there’s a huge number of Jewish people who reject the direction that Israel has taken. It had an opportunity years ago to give up land…

Moderator: Do you have a question?

Ronda Cooperstein: My question is—how is Israel protecting Jewish people who reject the Zionist mythology.

Aaron Goldenberg (Soldier): Ok, that’s a really good question. Um, so I hear several questions in this one. One—Jews protecting Jews is fairly obvious. I think that if you just look back just a couple decades, um, into the Holocaust, it becomes evident that without a state for Jewish people, or a platform to draw arms and understand that they can defend themselves, then we’re left to the whims of whatever government we’re under. And you can talk to my grandparents, they survived the Holocost.

Ronda Cooperstein: I have family too… that’s not the same issue.

Aaron Goldenberg (Soldier): In regards to the occupation, actually the Occupation is not a correct term. There is no occupation, it’s under…

Saqib Ali: That’s nonsense, come on man…

Ronda Cooperstein: That’s preposterous!

Aaron Goldenberg (Soldier): The question is, if a Palestinian were to live in Israel he’d be safe, and if a Jew were to live in…

Saqib Ali: Palestinians from the West Bank are not allowed to go into Israel.

Audience member 1: Jews are living in the occupied area.

Ronda Cooperstein: It’s fine to have question and answer, but we also expect some truth. This is not the truth…

Audience member 3: This is not about politics…

Saqib Ali: This is a political issue.

Ronda Cooperstein: I’m here because I’m angry, because for 40 years I’ve been talking to people and we have to keep listening to the same… Jewish people have to keep listening to the same mythology indoctrinate all these young people, it’s not true, Israel is not protecting Jews, Israel is protecting an ideology.

Aaron Goldenberg (Soldier): No if you actually want to…

Saqib Ali: She’s right!

Aaron Goldenberg (Soldier): If you want to stay and chat, you’re welcome to.

Saqib Ali: You just kicked her out.

Moderator: If anyone would like to ask a question, or discuss something in a civil way, we’re more than happy to do that. If you can’t do that, if you continue to protest, then you will be asked to leave, and if you cannot do that then you will be escorted out. That is the ground rules.

Saqib Ali: So, you talked a lot about, like, this great mythology, this sort of inspirational speech, I have to give that to you about you wanting to support Jewish life and community and that’s all admirable, right… but you were in the Navy, right? And what you didn’t talk about was the crimes that the navy commits against the Palestinians. Like, you know, in Gaza if a fisherman—
Moderator: Is there a question?

Saqib Ali: Yes, there is a question! No, just let me finish my question, dude! So, if a Gazan fisherman, if he’s just fishing for tuna or any other fish and he ventures out of a six mile zone what happens to him? You know what happens to him.
Audience member: Where he can actually capture fish…

Saqib Ali: He gets shot. And they get killed, and you know that. It’s true.

Aaron Goldenberg (Soldier): Oh my, oh my, that’s a far stretch from the truth. The procedure is that if someone crosses the border illegally, just like any border…

Saqib Ali: It’s not a border! It’s the ocean, it’s in Gazan territorial waters.

Aaron Goldenberg (Soldier): I’m afraid to tell you that there are actual maritime borders.

Saqib Ali: There is no border 6 miles from the coast of Gaza my friend, this is false, I know this, you can’t make stuff up.

Aaron Goldenberg (Soldier): I mean, I was there, I’m not sure if you were there.

Saqib Ali: You can be there, everyone knows that there’s no border 6 miles from the coast.

Audience Member: Are you going to let him answer?

Saqib Ali: Well if he’s going to speak falsehoods then I’m going to tell the truth, we don’t have to listen to falsehoods.

Aaron Goldenberg (Soldier): I’d really love to just answer you, I mean the procedure is—it’s a really good point, because the procedure is if anybody crosses the border illegally, we are mandated, we have…

Saqib Ali: Which border are you talking about? In the ocean?

Aaron Goldenberg (Soldier): In the border between Gaza and Israel.

Saqib Ali: No no, I’m not talking about the border between Gaza and Israel. I’m talking about if I’m a Gazan, on the Gaza coast and I go fishing, and I go 6 miles straight out…

Aaron Goldenberg (Soldier): So you’re saying that the first thing the Israeli navy does is shoot them?

Saqib Ali: I’m saying they get shot, and many times without warning.

Aaron Goldenberg (Soldier): Absurd, and it’s a lie.

Saqib Ali: It’s not absurd, it’s not a lie. There are many in the Israeli press that are documenting…

Aaron Goldenberg (Soldier): The problem here is that I was there and you weren’t. I know what it was, I know what it is, and that’s not the procedure. What you’re saying is a lie.

Sammar Caverly: There is documentation.

Aaron Goldenberg (Soldier): There is documentation right here and I’m telling you the truth. I was there and that’s not what we do.

Moderator: Ok, you had your opportunity, we’re going to allow other people…

Saqib Ali: Well, listen, but in Gaza four children were playing soccer on the beach and they were blown up by the Israeli navy. Explain that, nobody was held accountable. Not one person was held accountable. They were blown up while playing soccer, four little boys. He has no answer, come on answer me. Why won’t you answer?

Police: Sir, you’re being asked to leave.

Saqib Ali: I’m leaving, but why won’t you answer? You can answer me.

Aaron Goldenberg (Soldier): I have to wonder why Palestinians don’t value life the way Israelis do.

Saqib Ali: Well when four children are blown up playing soccer on a beach, you can’t say that Israel is valuing their life. Shame on you. (Being escorted out by security) They can’t deal with dissent, and they can’t deal with facts.

Sammar Caverly: (Begins, but video cuts out): I just want to give my two cents and it’s not going to be negative. I am Palestinian and I was born in …

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