Demonstration at the Jimmy Carter Appearance in Berkeley

Berkeley, May 2, 2007

On May 2, 2007, former President Jimmy Carter gave a speech at Zellerbach Hall on the U.C. Berkeley campus about his book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. This being Berkeley, a large number of people showed up on Lower Sproul Plaza in front of Zellerbach to express their opinions of Carter and his book. Since the majority of those on hand were there to support Carter's characterization of Israel, I'll refer to them as demonstrators rather than protesters.

All of these photos were taken on Lower Sproul Plaza prior to Carter's appearance on the afternoon of May 2, 2007.

(If you want to watch the official video of Carter's Berkeley lecture, click here for the webcast.)

Many of those on the scene were from left-wing anti-Zionist Jewish groups, such as Jewish Voice for Peace.

What is always left intentionally vague at these events is whether the term "occupation" refers to just the settlements on the West Bank or to all of Israel itself. One suspects that the ultimate goal of many of the demonstrators is the complete end of Israel as a state, but for euphemistic purposes they use the term "occupation."

Either that, or they're incredibly naive.

Students for Justice in Palestine is a Berkeley-based student activist organization dedicated to establishing Palestinian rule over all of "historic Palestine" (i.e. what we now call "Israel"). This SJP member was handing out anti-Zionist literature to people entering Carter's lecture.

The good folks at Hands Off Iran want to make sure that Ahmadinejad has all the time he needs to build nuclear weapons.

Controversial "progressive" "rabbi" Michael Lerner was on hand to support Carter and voice his rejection of Zionism. Standing directly behind him is Mitchell Plitnick, founder of Jewish Voice for Peace.

Other demonstators seemed to be non-affiliated independents.

But not everybody was there to support Carter's demonization of Israel. This overhead view of the demonstration reveals that there was a significant contingent of Israel supporters (seen on the right side of the photo, lined up holding placards, and waving Israeli flags), facing off against the anti-Israel demonstators (on the left, around the Palestinian flag).

The huge Israeli flags rippled in the wind.

The placards held by the Israel supporters described Carter's attacks on Israel as libel.

Some real Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid fans.

What, no Zoroastrians?

There were a few Muslim students on the plaza...

...but not a great many. U.C. Berkeley has only a small number of Palestinian students overall.

The truth is, the vast majority of the pro-Palestine demonstrators were far too old to have been current students, and for the most part seemed to have no affiliation with the university at all.

It seemed, in fact, that the demonstration was more of a silent staring match between rival Jewish ideological camps: anti-Israel Jews (generally self-identified as "left-wing")...

...versus pro-Israel Jews (commonly though to my mind often inaccurately identified as "right-wing").

Ah, there's that word "progressive" again, soon to completely supplant "liberal," "left-wing," "socialist," and "Democratic" as the term of choice to describe...well, do words have any meaning at all any more?

Eventually, a long line formed to enter Zellerbach to see the lecture. Since the event was open only to students, the mostly non-student demonstrators continued to stand their ground as the attendees filed into the building.

There was fairly heavy security. All bags were searched. No large backpacks allowed. Police guarded every entrance.

Here's Carter giving his speech in Zellerbach (photo by Steve McConnell of the UC Berkeley NewsCenter). I didn't attend the lecture itself, so I don't have any first-hand reports about it. However, you can watch a webcast video of his lecture by clicking here.

The UC Berkeley News Center released this photo (by Steve McConnell) after Carter's appearance, with the following caption:
In one of the day's many conversations focused on the situation in the Middle East, Carter talked with Hatem Bazian (left), a lecturer in Near Eastern Studies, and Aidan Ali-Sullivan, one of the Berkeley students whose invitation brought Carter to campus.
Readers may remember Hatem Bazian from an earlier zombietime report, calling for "an intifada" in the United States.

Back outside, the Obama campaign team were informed that no political tables were allowed on Lower Sproul during the Carter event, as a security measure. They sheepishly packed up to leave.

One of the pro-Israel demonstrators commemorated the three Israeli soldiers that were kidnapped by Palestinians and Hezbollah, and (if they're still alive) are still being held captive today.

The littlest demonstrator, whose father apparently has a fondness for Mercedes-Benz.
(Photo courtesy of Dan K.)

I suspected that these two guys were actually Secret Service agents, checking out the crowd for any threats to Carter. Either that, or they were doing a very good impression of Secret Service agents. Notice the little earphone, the bulky jacket to hide the firearm, the unforgiving assessment of the crowd.... Fortunately, there was no one suspicious on the plaza, and the event went off without a hitch.

A short article about the demonstration was published in The Daily Californian.

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