Austin Texas: Protesting a Mass Murderer

By Gail Alfar

A "Family-Friendly" Community Center in Austin Texas recently hosted a War Criminal. Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Colonel Bentzion Gruber spoke at the Austin Jewish Community Center on March 4, 2010. 

Protesters started gathering outside the center about an hour before his lecture, carrying signs "Judaism-Yes, Zionism-No" and "Bentzion Gruber, WAR CRIMES are not ethical." 
 
The controversy arises from the fact that a community center such as the JCC-Austin would allow, and even co-sponsor, the lecture of a man who is directly involved in the violation of International Law and is responsible for directing 18,000 soldiers in human rights abuses in Occupied Palestine.
 
 
 
 


The Palestinian people suffer under apartheid conditions as inhabitants of Israel, a country where they make up almost half - 5 million - of the population. Israel is attempting to gradually cleanse its Palestinian population, to be replaced by Jewish-Israeli settlements, and the IOF plays a major role in this. 

Bentzion Gruber spoke to an audience of about 100 mostly middle aged people about how ethical the IOF is, claiming it is the most ethical military in the world today.

Gruber is touring the nation to raise funds for his agenda at the same time that the UN Goldstone commission and international organizations such as UNICEF and the UN, report about Israel’s crimes against International Law and human rights. 

Gruber dismissed the white-phosphorus bombs used by the IOF in Operation Cast Lead as simple smoke bombs. Jeff Zavala, who video taped portions of Gruber's speech that evening, has his statements recorded.

Gruber states "Israel didn't use phosphorus in Gaza period. If they used phosphorus shells in Gaza, where are those people? I’ve never seen one photo. We didn't use phosphorus." You can view this video on Youtube, (google Bentzion Gruber), which includes photos of people harmed by phosphorus shells.

The Goldstone Report has extensive documented evidence that the IOF used white-phosphorus bombs against civilians; one of many war crimes Israel refuses to stand trial for. Israel has already admitted to dropping phosphorus bombs on Gaza.

"According to the Israeli document, two senior officers, Brigadier-General Eyal Eisenberg and Colonel Ilan Malka, "exceeded their authority in approving the use of phosphorus shells". The document also mentioned that the shells were fired "in violation of the rules of engagement prohibiting use of such artillery near populated areas." It added that the officers, who still run their previous posts, have been disciplined." (source: PressTV) 

As the lecture attendees left the JCC Austin, they were met with more protesters and more signs such as "read the GOLDSTONE REPORT online" and "Stop Israeli Terrorism." 

Protester Jeff Zavala stated "I believe that the Palestinians under occupation are the single most oppressed people in the world today, that's why I'm here tonight." Haithem El-Zabri, tried to attend the lecture and was turned away. "After the guard looked at my id, he said 'you are not welcome here; you need to turn around and leave the premises immediately,' and then he called his supervisor, it was very clear he had been told to be on the lookout for me and had my name memorized; he didn't go back to check a blacklist or anything!" 

Protests across the country are increasing due to the fact that the apartheid in Israel-Palestine is increasingly seen as a human rights issue and not an issue of religion or nationalism. 

Gruber is is touring the country lecturing until late March to include Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, Santa Barbara; Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, New Jersey; Miami, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa Bay, Houston, and Washington D.C.
 
This article and video originally appeared on the blog of Gail Evelyn Alfar, of Austin Texas
 
 
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World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.