From the If Americans Knew mailing list:
We thought you might be interested in Alison Weir’s recent talk, since this turned out to be a somewhat explosive event – at one point a prominent Israel partisan even assaulted an audience member and was taken away in handcuffs!
The talk was in the Walnut Creek library, a well-to-do town in the San Francisco Bay Area. The large lecture hall and was filled to capacity, a number of people standing. And this was not to “the choir.” The majority of the audience appeared to be just regular Walnut Creek residents.
Events leading up the talk were a bit dramatic.
The Walnut Creek Police Department had phoned Alison ahead of time, concerned over a hate attack posted online a few weeks before the lecture inciting people to disrupt the talk. (This online attack made use of JVP-US Campaign misrepresentations against Alison to incite hatred against her.)
Similarly, the Walnut Creek Parks and Recreation Department had received phone calls from Israel partisans saying they were planning a protest.
As expected, these Israel partisans then carried out their plan to try to sabotage the event.
A small contingent of “Stand With Us” people had signs outside the library and passed out flyers against Alison inside (making ample use of the JVP-US Campaign misrepresentations and other inaccurate information, as Israel partisans routinely do since the Campaign dossier and blacklisting). About five or six of the protesters then sat in the front row right in front of Alison, while others stood in the back with their signs.
Stand With Us (SWU) is a well-funded international Israel propaganda organization with adherents throughout the United States.
During Alison’s talk the SWU people periodically shouted out objections, and then some audience members, fed up with their behavior, shouted at them to stop. At one point the SWU people managed to disrupt things so badly that Alison couldn’t continue speaking for awhile, but finally she just spoke loudly right into the microphone and was able to continue.
Even though the SWU people eventually grew so disruptive that some were finally removed by the police, Alison was able to give her full presentation, and at the end she received a standing ovation from the audience.
Walnut Creek residents seemed shocked at the crude behavior of the Israel partisans, who showed the face of extremist Zionism usually hidden from mainstream Americans.
After one of the disrupters – a prominent Israel partisan named Helen Loewenstein – had been removed and used an obscene epithet outside the room, Loewenstein hit an audience member who was videoing her behavior with an iPad. Since this assault occurred right in front of several police officers, the police took Loewenstein away in handcuffs. This is all on video.
Loewenstein is a major donor to the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and member of the Sapphire Society ($5,000 membership dues), which, according to its website, is “an exclusive group of leaders helping to strengthen the homeland of Israel. The women of the Sapphire Society have raised over $50 million in 10 years.”
(We’ll keep you posted on whether the District Attorney prosecutes this assault and battery.)
After Alison’s talk there was a Q&A with index cards, and then many people bought Alison’s book. One person bought 20!
Numerous people made extremely supportive remarks of many sorts. A woman who has lived in Walnut Creek for many years said that she was originally from Egypt. She said that recently, as she saw many things in the US getting worse and worse, she had questioned her decision to move to the US, but said that Alison’s talk had restored her belief in America.
A number of audience members said that Alison’s calmness in the face of the hecklers helped support her case. One supporter wrote afterward: “Alison, your equanimity was extremely impressive – I think that really strengthened the message, because it made clear that facts and reason are on our side and the Zionists are nasty bullies. I’m sure the library people and the cops must have seen things that way.”
[Alison says that she actually didn’t feel so calm, but she’s glad that she appeared that way!]
Overall, there was a strong feeling of positive, determined energy – it felt much like the event described by the New York Times years ago about a similar talk at the Greenwich, CT library, and at many other venues in the intervening years.
We’re grateful to the wonderful Mt. Diablo Peace & Justice Center and Rossmoor Voices for Justice in Palestine, the groups that sponsored the talk, and to Marvin Cohen, who introduced Alison.
Details on Alison’s upcoming talks – in California, Washington state, Oregon, and Florida – are available here. If you’d like to bring her to your campus, community library, church, Rotary Club, or other venue, please email us.
Again, thank you so much for the support that makes this possible! Every bit helps!
The If Americans Knew team