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Last Tuesday reserve soldiers from the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) spoke at Victoria as part of a nationwide tour, in what Victoria academics described as “an exercise in propaganda and apologetics for military violence”.
The controversial event, titled “Operation Protective Edge: An Israeli Soldier’s Perspective”, was organised by the Wellington chapter of the Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS), and sparked an outcry from student groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine, as well as a group of academics who circulated a petition to cancel the event amongst university staff.
Victoria University ultimately allowed the event to go forward, sparking a decision by several groups to protest it. Around 60 protestors turned up at the talk, lining the hallway as people made their way to the event. The atmosphere was highly charged, as a pro-Israel counter-protester walked through the middle of the group. Protesters infrequently interrupted as Raphael and Naftali spoke about their experience as Israeli Defence Force reservists to those who attended.