Ugly threats against Palestine solidarity activist

September 8, 2014

An Ohio University student reports on the smears against a supporter of Palestine rights.

MEGAN MARZEC, president of the Ohio University Student Senate and a supporter of Palestinian rights, is facing extreme harassment, including death threats, from pro-Israel students and organizations, in response to her solidarity activism.

In late August, Marzec posted a video spinoff of the popular ALS ice bucket challenge, in which she doused herself with fake blood. "I'm sending a message of student concern about the genocide in Gaza and the occupation of Palestine by the Israeli state," Marzec explained, before calling on Ohio University to cut ties with Israel.

Since posting the video, Marzec has received over 1,000 communications from pro-Zionist individuals and organizations attempting to intimidate her and force her into resigning as president of the Student Senate on the Athens, Ohio, campus. Many of these messages used graphic sexist and violent language. In addition to attempts to discredit Marzec as "a stupid, naive little girl," to quote one message, several included rape and death threats.

Megan Marzec
Megan Marzec

A picture of one e-mail from a pro-Israel supporter, Debra Halborn, circulated on social media last week. The subject line of the e-mail read: "Jewish Blood or Nigger Blood is there a difference?" The e-mail read:

I am a badass JEW LADY whose had it up to here with the muslim scum infiltration onto U.S. Campuses working their anti-Semitism and anti-Israel SHIT. You can tell that CUNT MARZEC that she can't hold a candle to the REAL WOMEN OF THE ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES...

You'll be real cute, bitch, when your AllahBoyz SLIT YOUR INFIDEL CHRISTIAN THROAT."

Another message from Joey Moore read: "I hope ISIS cuts your fuckin head off, you fuckin despicable cunt!"

Marzec has been shocked by the ferocity of the attack--but she says she is determined to continue taking a stand:

As someone who cares deeply about ending the oppression of all people, the accusations of being an anti-Semite definitely sting. But it is nothing compared to the suffering of people in Gaza. I am so inspired by the incredible resilience and courage of the Palestinian people. Along with the public statements of solidarity coming from around the world, it is the bravery of Palestinians that helps me keep my head up.

THE BACKLASH against Marzec's actions has also spread far and wide to right-wing blogs and newspapers, including the Jerusalem Post and the Facebook pages of Tea Party organizations.

Meanwhile, on Ohio University's campus, pro-Israel groups, including Hillel, Bobcats for Israel, Alpha Epsilon Pi and the College Republicans, have mounted a public smear campaign on social media and in the campus' student newspaper, the Post.

In one letter to the editor in the Post, Aric Kaskey, political director of the campus College Republicans, called on Marzec to resign as Student Senate president and apologize to the entire student body, claiming, "Her actions are inexcusable and she should be ashamed for what she did to the students of this great campus." Other letters have included blatantly racist language about Israel being a "developed nation, unlike the rest of the Middle East."

Perhaps the statement with the greatest impact came from the liberal rabbi of the local Hillel chapter, Danielle Leshaw, who likewise called on Marzec to resign as Student Senate president:

Your video marginalizes and isolates students. It makes Jewish parents want to bring their kids back home to the safety of the Jewish suburbs. It makes alumni want to pull their funding. It makes Jewish organizations call and demand that we do more. It makes people threaten, and when we don't comply and do exactly what they say, they threaten some more. But I can't do more. There's actually not much for us to do, except gather our students and tell them that they're safe and that they're loved and that yes, it's true, their student senate president isn't qualified for the job.

Meanwhile, Jewish students who have defended Marzec from accusations of anti-Semitism have faced sharp rebukes and abuse themselves.

Fortunately, within days of the Zionist backlash against Marzec starting, messages of solidarity with her began to trickle in. A petition at posted last week got more than 500 signatures within 24 hours. The Post student newspaper began to publish letters supporting Megan, calling on her to resist pressure to step down.

One Ohio University professor of film studies, Louis-George Schwartz, posted messages of solidarity with Megan on Facebook, saying:

I am named after two great uncles who were killed in Auschwitz...I say unequivocally that those who threaten anti-racists in the name of 'THE Jews' do not speak for me, and they dishonor my ancestors. I say unequivocally that those who support the murderous state dominating the territory of Palestine do not speak for me.

Another letter to the editor in Post from an Ohio University alum stated, "From the interactions I have had with Megan in the past, I can say with 100 percent certainty that she has a deep desire to fight for the equality of ALL people."

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