Okay, we get it that many college students yearn to be relevant and often believe the best way to be seen and heard is by being provocative. But when trying to claim a small space on the global public relations stage, it helps to actually know at least some of the facts about which you think you are seeking attention. And knowing the difference between “complacent” and “complicit” is useful if the meaning you want is for the second word, but you use the first, both in the audio and in the written narrative.
Case in point: Ohio University’s student senate president Megan Marzec tried to wed the current popularity of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge with her misguided belief that the Gaza war was still continuing. She attempted to combine the two to promote her personal goal of the university’s divestment from and boycott of Israel.
About the only thing Marzec’s stunt achieved was near unanimity in a rejection of her method and in daring to imply her stunt was undertaken on behalf of the school’s student senate.
Her university president rebuked her, the fellow members of her student senate publicly apologized for her, the school paper denounced her and, according to local media reports, many Ohio University students spoke out against her. Several students and student organizations even called on Marzec to resign her position as student senate president.
Marzec’s stunt was not only gauche and unendorsed, but it was an abuse of what has been an incredibly popular means of fundraising for a very horrible and thus far incurable disease, ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
Either best or worst of all, Israel happens to be the place where the closest thing to a cure for ALS is being developed. If Marzec actually succeeded in her goal to get people to boycott and divest from Israel, the cure for ALS would be even further away than it is now.
So how about that for figuring out a way to make enemies with the 450,000 people who are currently afflicted with ALS, plus all their family members, infuriate your fellow students and school administration and all the people who care about Israel in less than one minute?
Marzec used her university’s president ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to her and other student leaders as a springboard to promote her BDS goal. BDS is the movement seeking the Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel.
Wedding the social media ploy of making a “dramatic” video (a good way to relieve potential followers from actually reading reasoned arguments), with the popular ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Marzec opens the video by thanking Ohio University’s Roderick McDavis for issuing the ALS bucket challenge,
Thanks [Ohio University] President Roderick McDavis for giving me, Megan Marzec, the Bucket Challenge. As student senate president, I’m sending a message of student concern about the genocide in Gaza and the occupation of Palestine by the Israeli state.I’m urging you, and OU [Ohio University] to divest and cut all ties, academic and other Israeli businesses and institutions.
This bucket of blood symbolizes the thousands of displaced and murdered Palestinians, atrocities which OU is directly complacent [SIC] in, with cultural and economic support of the Israeli state.
Marzec then picks up and pours the bucket of “blood” (tomato juice, water and red paint) over her head and the video ends with the statement supporting the Palestinian Arabs and encouraging anyone interested in “bringing BDS to Ohio University, contact Megan Marzec, MM590410@Ohio.edu.”
Marzec tied her university’s alleged support for the Jewish state to the maintenance of a study abroad program at Tel Aviv University. The student is so lacking in knowledge about the situation in the Middle East, that she apparently was either not aware that the summer war had ended, or thought that Israel regularly murders Arabs in Gaza and demolishes their homes.
Perhaps a reasonable response to Marzec’s immature act would be to have the university hire a knowledgeable scholar to teach courses on ancient and modern history of the Middle East. That would be making lemonade out of lemon. Or a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Or something like that. And while the university considers how to respond to Marzec, perhaps she should have to spend time with people who have ALS. Maybe that would cause her to grow up. What a cruel and thoughtless and selfish stunt all the way around.
Rabbi Danielle Leshaw, director of Hillel at Ohio University, responded Marzec’s video Wednesday evening: “Tonight: the Jews of OU feel sad, betrayed, and angry. It’s possible this has never happened before in the history of this campus. #BDS fail.” At least that.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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